Tuesday, July 9, 2013

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter nine: Votes)

Chapter Nine
    On Friday, the captaincy was to be decided. Darcy pretended he didn’t care about beating Paige.
    As he entered the classroom, he noticed Paige Bennet reviewing her notes, her hair scrunched on top of her head, reading intently. He realized Mackenzie was right. Although he wouldn’t know or care about one designer brand from another, it was clear to him that this girl was a hot mess. Emphasis on the hot, she’d make a great fake girlfriend apart from her outspoken personality.
     Darcy tried to clear his mind of those inappropriate thoughts. How could he even entertain the idea? All the stress of dealing with his sister’s drama had made him delusional. Besides, her siblings were low rent even if she and her sister were passably hot. She was totally unsuitable. He felt quite alarmed that he was even thinking about her again. This meant he’d been thinking about her before. Darcy sat down, confused. Then he remembered this was the day of the captaincy vote and they each had to prepare a speech.  Darcy hadn’t prepared. He’d been debate champion in Sydney.   
    At his all boys’ school, it had never really occurred to him to think of girls as people – apart from his sister who was obviously a person, albeit an emotionally damaged one. He just considered girls another species, really. Even Mackenzie, though she’d always sucked up to him, was not a person he particularly liked, he merely felt safe around her, familiar. He knew she had a different value system and that aspect of Mackenzie’s personality, bothered him.
    Darcy sat up straight and watched as Paige took control of the ballots and the handing out of the pencils. Even Darcy wasn’t sure why they were going through with this charade. As the new boy, he didn’t expect to be made captain. The teacher began:
    “Now, it appears Paige does not go unopposed this semester,” Mrs Tartt noted loudly after the students were seated. At this point Paige had reached Darcy’s desk. Paige thought his smile arrogant as he chewed the end of his pencil. Paige, on the other hand, gave him a half-smile and said under her breath, “no need to look so smug.”
    This astounded Darcy, who’d never really thought of himself that way. He shuffled in his seat and felt quite unsettled by Paige’s assertion. He never really spoke to women who challenged him. His own mother had ignored him since he was a little baby. Instead of backing out, as he’d wanted to do, being as disinterested in joining school clubs as he previously was, his interest was heightened by her challenge.  Darcy raised his hand.  Someone (me) was scribbling it all down and Darcy looked over suspiciously. I smiled to myself. Although Darcy was likely to lose, he would never let Paige think she’d walked all over him without a fight.
    The ballot was called and the students folded their pieces of paper, one by one and placed them in the large piggy bank on Mrs Tartt’s desk.
    “Now, two hundred words each please, while I count the votes. The topic of the day is:  Should we ban all junk food in middle school? This half of the class please take the affirmative, the other half take the negative…”
     Darcy rolled his eyes and started scratching away on his paper. He’d been given topics just like this at his previous school and they were just as lame. Still, he wouldn’t give Paige Bennet the thrill of seeing him look at her so he kept his head down.
     As the students wrote, Miss Tartt counted the ballots.
     Bored, Darcy finished his draft before everyone else. Even Paige was still writing. He decided to flick the eraser onto the end of his pencil and use Paige’s back for target practice. Mrs Tartt was paying no attention to the back row but Paige swung round the moment the eraser hit her back.
     “That’s harassment… and could you be any more juvenile and attention seeking Darcy Donovan? That’s your name, right?” she whispered, “I heard Miss Tartt reading it out.”
     “Um… yes,” Darcy said, his face turning red. He’d wanted her attention but not like this. Paige was a real viper, like one of those venomous snakes he grew up hearing about. Hadn’t one crawled all over his grandfather when he’d first travelled to the outback? And hadn’t his grandfather lay there in his tent, frozen so the snake could crawl over him without biting?
      Before they could whisper again, Mrs Tartt stood up.
      “Pens down, class, I’d like to announce a tie. There are two things we could do. I could decide the winner myself, but that would be undemocratic, or we could vote again on Monday – after our candidates have had a chance to do a two minute speech on a topic of my approval.’
    The students started to talk amongst themselves. They voted on a new topic.
     “Okay, so, Paige and Darcy, unless either of you want to withdraw from the candidacy, I’m going to give you the topic.”
    Paige shook her head defiantly and Darcy just nodded looking very surprised.
    Great, well, we now have Thursday’s lesson to look forward to.
    The topic is: Peer Pressure is more Beneficial than Harmful.
Rys Wickam groaned. He’d heard it all before. I smiled to myself. Debate club was getting interesting. I was only sorry I couldn’t throw my hat into the ring but freshman weren’t allowed. Besides, between being Mackenzie’s pretend slave, learning my lines and dance class, I was way too busy.
    Paige thought about the topic as she read over it, barely glancing over at Darcy as he walked out of the room.
    Rys hung by the door to catch her as she left. “Wait up,” he said walking with her. Paige smiled, open to the possibility of a new friend but her mind was on Darcy. She was not used to being challenged in this way and she wondered how a new boy had already become so popular – then she realized, it wasn’t that Darcy was popular – it’s just that maybe she wasn’t.
     Perhaps it was time to get social.