When I grow up (and some regulation trivia).

Responding to Emily’s Writers Reveal prompt, ‘When I grow up’, my piece is told from the perspective of a teenage girl, Summer Black, a fictitious yet real narrator. Unfortunately there are too many Summers in our classrooms and playgrounds. And the world isn’t always kind to them.

When I grow up

Our theme this term is ‘growing up’. Miss asked us to write an essay on what Scout learned in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, as well as a story beginning with the words, “When I grow up”. It’s an easy topic for me because I’ve already thought about it. A lot. It’s the only thing stopping me giving up. It’s my dream…I hope it will happen.

My new room has a view, a vista of the railway track. It’s bleak (trains aren’t pretty and they’re noisy, cutting the quiet with their dull clatter), but at night my window’s view transforms. When I lie in bed and look up, I see the opaque sky is remote and its vastness dwarfs me. On the sky’s black velvet carpet, silver gems are spread and sometimes they smile at me. When I stare long enough, I seep into the blackness – the dense infinity. The night sky makes me wonder, gives me hope.

When I grow up I’m going to be happy, I’m going to be skinny, I’m going to be happy. When I grow up I’m going to be happy and I’m not going to be me.

Miss Martinello gapes, “Summer, can I talk to you about your story…are you okay?” I meet her gaze with a perky shrug. “Perfectly, Miss. It’s fiction, right?

“Right.” She hesitates, touches my hand, a bird-like caress revealing her feather kindness – like a bird’s wing. I like Miss.

When I grow up I’m going to be happy. I’m going to shed the layers of fat, eviscerate the lard to the hard muscle and bone below. No one ever sees my muscle and bone. Not yet.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

It’s Recess and I eat my apple, nibble at the carrot. Rabbit-like. My teeth are large – straight and white but they’re swamped, diminished, in my fat cheeks. No one sees my perfect teeth.

Mum wants to pack treats for school, choc-chip cookies, doughy rolls with cheese, but I won’t let her. I can’t eat at school. Fat people can’t eat in public, it’s a universal truth. Not unless they want to be vilified. Miss said ‘vilified’ was a good word – “expressive” – but it’s an ugly word for an ugly past-time.  So while my stick friends pile in chips, sausage rolls and pasta – hot and tempting from the canteen – they judge me.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

“If they’re your friends, Summer, what the hell’s going on?” She doesn’t swear, my mother.  ‘Hell’ is about as bad as she gets. She believes one needs to lead by example. But she’s tall and slim while I’m my father’s daughter. Ex-father. So WTF?

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

I shielded Mum so long but not forever. All through my fat days, I tricked her. But when I started to purge, when the weight dropped and I resembled one of the wraiths from my favourite zombie movie, she gleaned something.

“Sweetie I’m worried about you, you don’t look…yourself.”

She means I look ill, crap. It’s the black arcs below my eyes, my pasty skin.

She clutches at straws, my dearest mother. “You’re not staying up all night on Facebook?” She has a vague but prevalent unease about social media. It’s a valid point. The schoolyard taunts were nothing to the trolling…

“I’m fine, Mum, and by the way, goths pay good money for this look!”

She laughs but it doesn’t reach her eyes.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

I never should have let Jed touch me. But he was popular and I thought I’d be popular by association. Stupid girl! Stupid girl! Too clueless to know he was Claudia’s. Well not yet, but she had her eye on him…she’d baggsed him. I should’ve known he’d post it – thinly-veiled, no names – but they knew it was me. He even used alliteration, probs thought he was clever. “Fingering fat-girl totes not fun!!” Oh the irony, I didn’t even like him. I would blame the vodka shots but that’d be the coward’s way. It was me, Summer Black following Jed into the dark, enticing room.

All my problems coalesced after that. My group, of which Claudia is the leader – Queen Bee of the second coolest group in the Year 10 playground – led the pack. And deer-in-the-headlights-me was such an easy target.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

It’s why we left, Mum and I. Left the neighbourhood. New school. At this school no one knows about my dark days, my fat days, my slut days. Except Miss, now. But I can trust her, even though she’s alarmed by my story. I’ve said it’s fiction but she knows. Some say going to a new school is just shelving your problems as you take them with you. But I see it as a fresh start. Everyone thinks I’m weird though, coz I hang in the library most lunch times. If the truth’s known, I’m scared. The steely bluffness is all front.

I still purge, but not as often and I hope one day I’ll stop. I closed my Facebook account but maybe I’ll open again soon. You miss out on a lot of stuff without FB. I’ve kept my Instagram but I only ever post skies. I like skies, they give me hope. They let me see that the world is beautiful, underneath.


Now for something less heavy – some regulation trivia:

I’m having a little break from blogging because I want to finish editing my manuscript. Even if it’s never a book, I want to finish. I’m halfway through but keep getting side-tracked into work and other frivolous things such as social media, coffee with friends, painting my nails. Oh and eating cake. Marie Antoinette has a lot to answer for.

But before I say my temporary adieu, I’ll post some pics. First a food-selfie. Love this self-indulgent genre. As if the world cares what I (or anyone for that matter) eats! In this case, it wasn’t even me. It was a random stranger’s breakfast trifle…and it looked so pretty.

Stranger's breakfast trifle.

Stranger’s breakfast trifle.

Blossom update. It’s official, I hate Blossom. She ate my berry muffin. Losing shoes I can cope with, losing triple-berry muffins I can’t. 😦

Contrary to appearances, I'm bad.

Contrary to appearances, I’m bad.

Note from Blossom: Please don’t tell my Queensland boyfriend Pablo but Freddy proposed and he’s already organised the cake… As well as ho-bagness, polygamy possibly runs in my family. 😉

Artist's rendition of Blossom and Freddy's wedding cake.

Artist’s rendition of Blossom and Freddy’s wedding cake.

And speaking of ho-bagness, this photo is from a new flirtless dog park. It was a bit boring.

No dogs to flirt with here...

No dogs to flirt with here…

Teaching Stuff:

One of the advantages of teaching is the longer you’re in the profession, the more you’re beyond embarrassment. As a new teacher I stepped terrified into my delinquent difficult Year 7 and 8 classrooms, with only a strong coffee and flailing courage to fortify me, as I plastered my steely ‘Sergeant Major’ face on. Over the years, I’ve made quite a few errors on the black/white board, (pointed out gleefully by stuents), worn non-matching earrings, different coloured shoes (it was dark when I got dressed), walked into class with my zipper undone halfway down my back and on another occasion with my dress caught up at the back – Jennifer-Hawkins-style (but without the fetching view).  I don’t think it’s possible to shock or humiliate a teacher after a while. You have lots of things said to you – a couple rude or mean – but mostly nice, weird, endearing and funny…or hilair.  The big perk of teaching is, it is always entertaining (Pinky’s latest post on Hector’s ear is a case in point!) Working with kids isn’t ever boring. When naughty challenging Year 10 student Jay said, “Hey Miss, does my neck look buff?” I, naturally, replied, “Yes, Jay, very buff.” The class cracked up but Jay looked quite pleased to have a buff neck. They didn’t get back to work for a while but it broke up the boredom of deconstructing a poem. 🙂

These moments mightn’t be as good as as expense accounts, free lunches or fancy company cars, they’re better. 

And as far as reprimands go, I pick my battles, carefully. I’ll never say to a gum-chewing student as one teacher did once: “If you don’t stop masticating, Thomas, I’ll castigate you!” (Kids aren’t aren’t great with sarcasm or malapropisms). 🙂

Finally, a sunrise. No photo-shopping, au naturel.

View from my room.

View from my room.

So enough about me, what about you? Did you ever embarrass your teacher?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT and joining Grace and FYBF. 🙂


46 thoughts on “When I grow up (and some regulation trivia).

  1. I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing last night and I’m up to the bit about the girls he went to school with and how they helped him relate when he was writing Carrie. Bullying has been around for so long and it’s a dreadful thing. It’s a pack mentality, pecking order thing and unfortunately I think it’s going to be around forever.
    Beautifully crafted story as usual.
    What!!! My Pablo has been spurned? I’m very disappointed for him but he is a bit of a cad. A Willoughby type character really. He has an eye for the ladies so Blossom has made a sensible choice. How on Earth did she get hold of your muffin? If Pablo did that I’d be devastated because he’d most definitely get the squirts and I’d suffer twice. Jay’s neck? Can a neck be buff? I hate muscly necks on men. They look as though their head is attached to their shoulders. The boys are all into that getting buff thing now. They weren’t when I was a teenager. They were all ugly, skinny looking things.
    I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to tell a student to stop masticating. Today I accidentally drew an extra bit between a stick man’s legs and the class were sniggering and snorting. When I realised I rubbed it off quickly and said, “So what! It looked like a willy. Stop laughing.” Of course that brought the house down and it took ages to settle them again.
    I think the long lunches etc might be better than some of our moments.
    Thanks for all the shout outs Lee-Lee-Lu x I love your unedited sunrise 🙂

    • I was hoping Pablo was more a Colonel Brandon than Willoughby, and he’d wait around for Blossom to outgrow her minx-hood! She foraged in my handbag, extracted the packet containing said muffin and ate it (I only discovered it when there were crumbs left – my bad for leaving bag around) 😦
      I hate thick necks, too, Pinky. The mind boggles! I do wish you’d stop drawing pornographic stick figures!!! 😉 Yes a long lunch without playground duty would be nice (love my new nick-name). X

      • It suits you! You’re such a Lee-Lee-Lu! Poo to this not blogging business too! I don’t like it… but I suppose you have to edit that wonderful book. I bet you fold and end up writing one. Five bucks.

  2. You’re right, it’s sad that girls like Summer are so common. 😦

    I loved your comments on teaching, though; looking back on my school days, I realise how amazing my teachers were, and how much they deal with on a daily basis. Definitely people to be admired! 🙂

    • Thank you, Major. I’ll bet you were a delightful student with your excellent reading and analysis of literature…you’d definitely have been a favourite (not that I have teacher’s pets!) 🙂

  3. Have fun editing (it’s rare, but it’s possible). Your story was wonderful and reminded me of just how horrible high school is, but how hopeful I was once I got out of it 🙂 Really evocative too. Hope your book’s coming along well.

    • Hi Marigold, yes to think people say “school days are the best years of our lives” – if this is the case, their lives must be truly woeful! 😦

      I find editing requires a lot of discipline and it’s so easy to be distracted. Thanks for the inspiring comment. 🙂

      • One of the things I’m looking forward to when I become a teacher: “Kids, these are the best days of your lives. Because it all goes downhill from here!”
        Seriously, it’s like no one ever thought that phrase through. I’m so glad high school definitely wasn’t the best days of my life.

      • Haha, yes it’s bizarre – it’s probably just a mindless cliche or a quote from a seasoned playground bully – the only time in life he/she triumphed!

  4. I hope you are not gone for too long, you will be missed. Good luck with editing, loved your story and I liked the ditty in between. Bought me back to what you were talking about x

  5. OMG! That story, so powerful! It had me hooked, wanting to read more! Go take that bloggy break and enjoy! You’ll find us right where you left us 🙂 x

  6. Powerful and heartbreaking story. I’m so glad not to be a teenager any more and ever so slightly fearful for my boychild navigating these waters. Glad you are working on your manuscript. 🙂

  7. I was taken by the story too. It plugs into a lot of issues, it was entertaining and thought provoking.
    Good luck staying off social media and finishing your manuscript .I wish it was that easy to switch off.

  8. Loved that story! Was sad when it ended! If your manuscript is anything like this than it’s going to be brilliant! Enjoy your bloggy break. We all need them! 😉

  9. Loved your beautiful story Lee-Anne. It is something that every teenage girl should read. Good luck with your manuscript.

    • Thank you, Kathy, what a lovely compliment! I may well need some luck with the manuscript, both in avoiding distractions and when I complete it, finding a publisher. 🙂

  10. Yes, adolescence is such a fraught time and boys don’t escape unscathed either. You won’t miss me Michelle, as I’ll be popping up on your blog to read and say “hi!”… xx

  11. Well done, you, Lee-Anne! Firstly on the writing prompt. Such wonderful exercises they are, and often times push you into uncomfortable places. But we always come out on the other side having learned something useful and meaningful. It was a touching and painful story, but well done. Brava.
    And secondly, a huge good luck with the editing. I hope it will bring about the birth of a fresh and sparkling rewrite, and one that will bring some notice to your writerly skills.
    I hope you’ll keep in touch–if for nothing else than the knowledge that you’ll always get a batch of encouragement from my side of the screen.
    You go, girl! Cheers 😀

  12. Great bit ‘o fiction. Looking forward to the manuscript you’re working on. On Blossom’s side about the muffin. A bride-to-be has got to eat. Hope the school year brings no more wardrobe malfunctions. Happy editing.

  13. Hi! This is an awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing.
    I see that you’ve been following my blog for a while and wanted to let you know that I’m now on:
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    If you’d like to follow me on those I’d love to see you around. I update them regularly. Keep up the awesome blogging!

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