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Goth of Christmas Past (HBTC Novel)


Then
New Rock Boots


Ice cream and swings had a lot to answer for. However, it began with a pair of New Rock boots, black hair and a band hoodie.

That day, eleven years ago, when Gothboy mooched into their business studies class for the very first time, Krissi had taken one look at him and thought, What a freak. He's so cool!

It was Year Ten - the start of their exam classes - and they'd had 'The Assembly' where Mrs. Taylor - the teacher in charge of their year group - had alternated between claiming she had every faith in their ability to excel and putting the fear of God into them... To fulfil your potential, you must meet - or better still, surpass - both the school's and your own expectations.

They could attend extra study sessions at lunchtime and after school, and their progress would be monitored to make sure they didn't fall behind. Their Year Seven SATs had shown they were an exceptionally gifted year group, and the school wanted to ensure they got the results they deserved.

It had all sounded grand and ambitious, and Krissi had left the school hall with high hopes, feeling more than a little smug as she passed a bunch of pupils who'd been pulled up for their uniform misdemeanours - lack of ties, trainers instead of shoes, failure to tuck in their shirts, skirts too high above the knees, and so on. How they looked kind of didn't matter, but really, it was no big deal to play by the rules.

Turn up in uniform, do the work, pass the exams - the school's expectations had been easy to meet. Krissi's own? Well, she'd had some - nothing too far-reaching. She'd wanted A-stars in business and maths - like, really wanted, as in gave up half of the summer holidays for private tuition with Dan, which had been a bit weird. He was her stepdad's best mate, so it wasn't as if she didn't know him, but he was also a bighead with this mega-successful business doing...she wasn't sure what.

"Dan's brilliant at maths," Kris had said.

"But you've got an A' Level."

"Only because Dan tutored me through it. And I only just passed. He got an A. So, what d'you think?"

"S'pose," she'd agreed, eyes on the prize.

Surprisingly, Dan turned out to be a pretty good teacher.

"Get all of these questions right and I'll let you drive my car."

"For real?"

"Yep, when you're old enough."

"Unfair!"

"Long-term goal. Short-term, how about - "

"But I'm not seventeen for another...two years and four months. That's, like, forever."

"I was gonna say I'll take you out for a milkshake when we're done - "

"A milkshake?" That was rubbish.

"At Alton Towers."

"You're on."

Best reward system ever - way better than stars or merits or book vouchers - and she learnt so much about maths and business.

So, she'd been feeling confident that first day, in full and correct uniform, hair neatly tied back, a sensible bag and a transparent pencil case complete with all of the required maths instruments. Determined, too, that this year, she'd stop being 'average' and blending in. This year, she'd ace the mock exams, get the grades she needed for her college course. And on her seventeenth birthday, she'd tell Dan, 'Thanks, but no thanks. I'm gonna wait till I have my own convertible.'


*

"I'm so proud of you," Mum said, all wet-eyed and ridiculous, same as Krissi's first day of school, and her first day of high school, her thirteenth birthday, the day she started her periods...Krissi was literally dreading turning eighteen, and twenty-one. The day of her wedding? Probably easier to give that a miss completely.

Thank goodness Kris was there to intervene, although he could be as bad as her mum. Sometimes Krissi listened to other kids talking about their step-parents - the fights, mostly - but it had never been like that with her and Kris. He'd been there when she was born, been around all of her life. She was even named after him. He was basically her dad.

"Have an amazing day, Missy."

"I will."

"Be good."

"Course!" She always was.


*

Always had been.

Enter Jason Meyer, black hoodie, lank black hair, no blazer, New Rock boots instead of school shoes and were those jeans? Turned out they were, but for all that he'd looked like a rebel, he wasn't really. Nor could Krissi honestly blame her slight derailment on their friendship. Their long, bleak friendship. He'd worked dead hard and been bullied mercilessly, but the teachers 'never saw anything', or so they'd claimed. They'd been nearly as bad as the pupils.

That first business studies lesson, the teacher had laid into Jay in front of the class - for his lack of uniform, for his insolence. Yes, OK, she'd been right to point out he wasn't in school uniform, but she could've just sent him to the headteacher. Instead, she'd belittled him, while he'd shrunk even further down inside his hoodie. She'd lost the respect of quite a few in their class that day, not least Krissi.

An hour later, at morning break, Jay had been sitting alone in the canteen. Krissi had made a beeline for him, and the rest...well...




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