Chapter 4 - Millie
Angelica led Grace, Alesia, Tabitha and me to the back of the oval. Year seven and eight boys would use the oval to actually play football and soccer. Everyone else would just sit around the edges in small groups.
The three other female members of Angelica’ friendship group Denise Garcia, Lisa Allen and Renate Allaire were sited under a large oak tree at the far end of the oval, out of the view of the teachers on yard duty. As we approach them, I realised that they were all smoking.
Smoking was banned on school property. You could even receive a detention for smoking outside of school if you are wearing your school uniform. Our school was very particular about its image. Which was the main reason we had to wear the blazer to and from school. They made you look more ‘profession’. Smoking was something the teacher couldn’t successfully stop no matter how hard they tried. There were posters around the school about the effects of smoking. Most of the poster had those disgusting looking photos that were now printed on cigarette packets. This year alone I had attended so many anti-smoking school talks. Nothing work, people, still smoked. Which was proven by the fact the year eleven and twelve girl’s bathroom always reeked of smoke.
“Why is that loser here?” Lisa said when she spotted me. She gave me a dirty look as she stared me up and down.
Like Alesia and Grace, Lisa was also overly caked in make-up. She had used the wrong shade of foundation. It was too light for her olive skin and made her appear to be ill. Her dark brown hair was in a fishtail braid down her back. Lisa was short and stumpy. She was not nearly as tiny as Tabitha was but she was smaller than both Grace and Alesia.
Unlike their friends, Denise and Renate weren’t caked in makeup.
Denise was barely wearing any foundation. Her light skin was free of any pimples or spots. She did, however, have a significant amount of black eyeliner on, which had been blended into a dark eyeshadow and was complemented by a dark reddish-purple lipstick. Her thick black curly hair had been pulled into a messy high ponytail. Her uniform was over-size and hung loosely on her body. She was bigger than other girls (especially in the chest) and was trying to hide it in the larger clothing. It was a known fact that the shapeless school uniform looked terrible on everyone, but it looked even worse when you weren’t a stick. I had always thought being heavy suited Denise.
Renate only wore mascara and pink lip gloss. Her thin golden blonde hair had been straightened and was out. It had been pushed off her face by a thin black headband. Renate didn’t need to wear tonnes of makeup. She was by far the prettiest girl in the group, if not our entire school. She lacked Angelica’s model body due to her height. Despite having moved to Australia when she was five, Renate still spoke with a strong French accent. Kitty and I have a theory that her accent wasn’t actually that strong, that she just enhanced it for the positive attention.
Lisa reached into her skirt pocket and pulled out her packet of cigarettes. She opened the package and offers them to the others. Angelica and Alesia both took one while Tabitha shook her head violently. Grace, Alesia, Angelica and Tabitha all joined the group on the ground leaving me awkwardly standing.
“Amelia is one of us now,” Angelica explained. Lisa looked disappointed, but she wasn’t going to argue with Angelica. Angelica turned back to me. “Sit down Amelia.”
I nodded and sat down between Grace and Alesia.
“Do you want a want a cigarette?” Renate asked me, politely
After all the years they had spent bullying me, all it had taken was Angelica to say I was one of them, for them all to back off. They were all completely under her control.
“No thank you,” I replied as I shook my head. “I don’t smoke.”
“Have you ever even tried it?” Alesia asked curiously.
“No,” I said.
“You have to, at least, try it,” Denise stated in an encouraging tone. “Even Tabitha has tried them.” She said as she nodded towards the quiet girl. Tabitha looked at Denise nervously when her name was mentioned.
All of the girls were staring at me now. I sighed and took a cigarette out of Lisa’s pack.
“How do I light it?” I asked nervously as I held the cigarette in my right hand and looked at it carefully.
The girls all laughed loudly, even Tabitha cracked a small smile. It was the teasing laughter I was used to hearing from them. Instead, it was good natured, and the laughter shared between friends.
“Wow,” Angelica exclaimed between laughter. “You actually have never smoked.” Her comment caused the others to laugh harder.
“Here, I do it,” Renate said as she held out her hand. I handed her my cigarette. She took it from me. Renate placed it in her mouth and lit the cigarette with her lighter. I smiled when I saw the Eiffel Tower design on the lighter. She removed it from in between her teeth and handed it back to me.
I raised the cigarette to my mouth and took a long drag from it. I quickly pulled the cigarette out of my mouth as I burst into a coughing fit.
Everyone but Tabitha laughed that time.
Renate took the cigarette off me as I continued to cough my lungs out. “I will take it you will not be smoking again anytime soon,” she smiled.
“Definitely not,” I replied as I finally finished coughing
“Don’t worry about it. The same thing happened to me,” Grace told me. “That is why I don’t smoke.” I look at Grace in surprise. This was the first time I had ever heard her say something kind and comforting. It sounded weird and unnatural.
“I don’t like the taste,” Tabitha murmured. She didn’t look up when she spoke. Instead, she kept her eyes down as she fiddled with the hem of her skirt.
“Oh my God,” Denise gasped over dramatically. “She speaks.”
We all laughed at that comment causing Tabitha to fall silent again.
“Are you free this weekend Amelia?” Alesia asked me.
“I should be,” I replied.
“My parents will be out of town, so I am hosting this huge party. You should come, I will Facebook you the details,” she told me.
“I will be there,” I told her happily.
The plan was working better than I had expected.
This was almost too easy.