They say ‘do not judge a book by its cover’, do not judge this short story by its featured image!
“I suppose you want me to take your dare now?” asked Pete.
“Oh, yes, I think it is fair to ask, don’t you? I completed your quest?” answered Si.
“I only dared you to break the principal’s window. Which you did, but you used Snotty Gibson’s ball to do it. Brilliant!”
“Yeah,” laughed Si. “He’s in big trouble, too. The head has called his father and asked for a meeting tonight. Both of them will have his guts.”
When Pete controlled his laughing fit he said, “What is Snotty going to do to you when he finds out it was you?”
“He won’t because I’ve put the word out that it was you who nicked his ball!”
Si roared with laughter.
“What? You better not have?”
“Now you have to complete my dare. Then I will put the record straight. I’ll tell Snotty who stole his bloody ball.”
“You’ll admit it was your fault? You are mad,” said Pete.
“Eh, no, but I’ll let everyone know it was that idiot, Jennings.”
“Not very fair on Jennings, he has nothing to do with anything. Come on then, what do you dare me?” asked Pete.
“Easy, take Silly Sarah on a date.”
“But, but,” stammered Pete. “Do you mean Sarah Gibson?”
“Yes, that’s the girl, she’s plain for my taste. But okay for you.”
“But, but that’s Snotty’s sister!”
“That is the dare,” answered Si. His grin could not get bigger without splitting his face.
Silly Sarah, was not silly, she was cold; she had no friends, not because she was ugly, she just never smiled.
“The school dance is next week. A perfect chance to complete your dare. Look, she is sitting over there, all alone,” said Si. He pointed at a girl with her nose in a book.
“Okay, don’t go on. I can see her,” said Pete with a grimace.
“Oh, and you’ll have to cheer up when you ask her, or you’ll fail,” said Si, with a girlish giggle.
Pete forced a smile, a superglue grin fixed in place. He sauntered across the playground.
“Look natural,” he ordered himself. He tried to get a closer look at her features. “Not ugly, not knock down dead gorgeous, but okay. Not blonde, but mousey, and no spots. Her figure, trim and short. But what about her glasses?”
Sarah was reading. She did not like being disturbed. Pete inched his way around her as Sarah slammed her book shut. The speed of movement as she turned and glared at him forced him to step back.
“Yes?” she said.
“Can I sit?” he asked without moving. Her glare softened a touch as she looked at the gap next to her.
“Sorry to disturb your novel,” said Pete.
“It is an autobiography.”
“No one you’ll know,” she answered.
“Oh, I suppose not.” He stammered. “We have the school…”
“Yes, I’d love to go, with you. Thanks for asking.”
She removed her reading glasses, and for the first time, he realised her eyes were gorgeous, breathtakingly violet. He stood and stared for longer than comfortable. “Your eyes…”
With a small shake of his head, hastily he turned, smiling.
Pete sauntered back, head in the air to his sneering friend.
“She said no?” Si asked.
“Actually, no, we have a date.”
“Great, turn up, make sure she does too, and we are quits on the dares.”
“You know,” Pete said thoughtfully, “Sarah is not so silly, and she’s a lot prettier than I realised.”
“Sounds like romance is blooming!” said Si, fighting back the laughter.
Pete spent the day of the dance shopping. He treated himself to a silky sky-blue shirt to match his navy-blue canvas trousers. He even dabbed on his father’s aftershave lotion.
Sarah looked stunning. She wore expensive tinted glasses; her scented hair trimmed to perfection, and her dress… cream satin decorated with colourful butterflies.
Sarah was beaming as Pete led her to the dance floor. School friends had never seen Sarah smile and not dressed like this. They were stunned. None of them guessed she could dance. Frozen, they stood open-mouthed as she slid, hopped and bopped across the floor.
“That can’t be Silly Sarah?” whispered the kids in the hall.
Pop music belted out, teachers tried not to be caught covering their ears as they handed out soft drinks to their excited students. Not suited to the pound of the beat the deputy head needed to escape.
“Just popping outside for a smoke,” he signalled to the gym teacher. She couldn’t hear him, but guessed his plan and waved her acknowledgement before grinning broadly.
He ducked his way to the car park and found a sturdy tree to lean against. “Take ten,” he said to himself.
Inside, Sarah noticed the teachers watching for anyone dancing inappropriately. “Come on, let’s go for a stroll.” She winked at her partner.
Pete’s smile filled his face. He wished Si could see him now. “Where is he?” He took her hand and led her to the fire escape, which filed into the school garden.
Sarah put her arm around Pete’s waist and pulled him towards her. He thought he had landed in Heaven. He bent and kissed her full lips. Both teenagers panted hungrily.
The deputy-head stubbed out his smoke, groaned at the thought of returning to the racket.
“I’ll stroll around the garden to clear my lungs,” he thought grinning, “another ten minutes of peace.”
Sarah and Pete appeared glued together. Keeping their balance was now becoming a task for Pete, as he needed his strength to keep them from falling. Especially now, as she was signalled behind his back to a pair lurking in the shadows. They crept silently nearer the embracing couple.
Sarah pushed herself away from a shocked Pete.
“I can’t breathe,” she said. “Give me a minute to catch my wind,” she panted.
A disappointed Pete stretched his neck as he leant back. A black cloth bag was swiftly slung over his head. His arms were secured behind his back.
“What’s going on?” he mumbled.
“Right you two pull his arms behind him and hook him to that branch through the tape,” said Sarah.
The two dragged him backwards and tried hoisting his arms up and over the out-jutting wood.
“Not that one, idiots, it’s too low. I need his feet off the ground,” screamed Sarah.
Her two accomplices gawped at each other. “That will hurt him,” said one.
“Yes, that’s the idea,” she said.
“Look sis,” said Snotty Gibson, “we only agreed to trick him.”
“Yeah,” agreed Si.
“You two clear off. I’ll take it from here.”
She shooed the boys away like disobedient geese. They slipped back to the dance, ducking through the fire exit, unspotted by the staff.
Sarah lifted the black bag.
“Why?” Pete asked.
“It’s like this. I saw the original film, I saw the remake and naturally I read the book,” she said.
“What film, what book? What are you talking about?”
“Do you think it is fair?”
“Is what fair?”
“The way people, like you, tease people like me?” She walked around him, looking him up and down before speaking.
“I want you all to know, you, my brother, your friend, and the whole school. I am not Carrie!”
Pete shook his head. “What?”
She retrieved a bucket of pig’s blood from behind a tree, threw it towards him. Half of the blood doused Pete, the other half splashed onto the face and upper body of the deputy head.
“Carrie, sorry, I mean Sarah,” screamed the teacher. “You will be expelled for that.”
His coughing and spluttering failed to quell Sarah’s raucous laughter.