Stratford-On-Guy: Series 1

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Fifteen short stories recounting the high school days of the late 1990s and early 2000s of eight teenagers in Melbourne, Australia Samuel Beck is a teenage boy living in suburban Melbourne, Australia. Throughout his adolescence, he recounts some of the most interesting moments between him and his best friends in their high school years, both in and outside of school

Age Rating:

First Day of School

Year 7 – 1996: February 5

Remember when you were a kid, in Grade 1 or 2, how far away high school seemed? How difficult your primary school teachers made high school look? How you promised yourself that you’ll always be studious, do all of your assignments, get all A’s, and never drink, smoke, or do any drugs?

Just two days after turning 12, and my journey at Greensborough College was about to start. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but at the same time I was also relieved that all my close friends from primary were also going to be with me during secondary. I was hoping that at least my best friend Dave would be in my class this year, if not, in my homeroom.

It was eight o’clock. I was just about to leave before I got the usual lecture about school. Except this was the first day of my first year at a new school, so this one was something different.

“Oh my God! My little boy is in high school now!” I heard my mum yelling from across the hall, running. She looked and sounded like a kid on Christmas or Easter morning.

“What am I saying? You’re not a little boy, anymore. My Sam is all grown up now.” My mum said, wiping the tears from her face. I swear, she was more excited for me to start school than I was. Once my mum gained back her composure, the usual first day lecture ensued,

“Ok, remember Sam, this is high school. You’re not a little kid. There’s a lot more work now. Do your homework; get to your classes on time; study hard; get good marks; don’t talk to strangers; don’t talk back to teachers.

I kept rolling my eyes. Ok, mum, I get it, I thought to myself. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I saw what was in my mum’s hands.


“Yes, Sam?”

“Please tell me we’re not gonna take pictures…”

“What? Of course we are! This is your first day of school! You only get one chance.”

I groaned loudly and rolled my eyes again, and my mother just laughed, “God, you are just like your father.” She started imitating my father in a deep voice, “I don’t care, Suzanne. Who cares? It’s just our wedding!”

Though I was annoyed, she did have a good point; I was quite indifferent towards almost everything that I saw and everything that happened to me. It was definitely something I inherited from my father. He never even bothered to remember mine or my sisters’ birthdays.

“Ok, Sam. Say cheese.” My mum said cheerfully

“Cheese…” I said in a monotone voice

All I could hear were my two younger sisters laughing, though I couldn’t blame them. This was embarrassing.

“Oh, come on, Sam. Be happy!”

How the hell was I supposed to be happy when you’re taking photos of me? I always hated taking photos. Even during Christmas and birthday parties, whenever there was a camera, I’d run as if the camera were a gun.

“Mum, when are you going to take me to school?” I asked

She looked at her watch, “Oh my God. You’re right. We’re gonna be late. Let’s go.”

I guess we wouldn’t be so late if you weren’t taking so many photos of me, I thought to myself. We got into the car, and throughout the ride, I began to daydream about the game Under a Killing Moon. I got it for my birthday just a few days ago, and I love it. It took place in post-war San Francisco in late 2042. By then, I would be 58, but who knew if we were ever going to get there? Was I even going to be alive by then? Would I have children of my own, or even grandchildren? If so, how would I raise them? What were they going to be like? Were they going to be cheerful and appreciate life like my mum, or will they be indifferent and pessimistic like my dad? Was I still going to be best friends with Dave like I have been for the last 7 years? These were the kind of thoughts that would normally run through my mind during car trips.

When we arrived at my new school, I looked at the clock and I saw that I was almost half an hour late. I quickly jumped out of the car, grabbed my bag, and ran to the 2nd building from the main entrance. In the hallway, there were names of all the students and which house groups they were in. I looked for my name, and there it was: in green house. I glimpsed quickly, but I didn’t see Dave’s name in Green 2. Hopefully, he’d be in my class, since homeroom can be ruled out. Luckily, I was in the same building and in classroom 9.

I knocked on the door, only to see 25 heads quickly lock their gazes on me. Were they awaiting my arrival? As if I was that important.

“Open the door, stupid!” I heard one of the boys yell. The others began to laugh.

I just rolled my eyes, “It’s locked, stupid!”

That same guy, who looked like he was in Year 9, got up and opened the door for me. Once I walked into the classroom, I see my homeroom teacher. She looked like she was in her mid-60s, with hair so light that just staring directly at it for a few seconds could cause blindness that was loosely tied back, and was wearing a pale blue cloak. I swear, I’ve seen my grandma wear one of those.

“You’re late,” I heard her say in a posh voice

Why do teachers even need to remind students that they’re late, as if they aren’t already aware? Thank God she didn’t ask why I was late because if I had to answer that truthfully, I was guaranteed to be the laughing stock of my homeroom. That was another thing I never understood; when teachers asked why you’re late. As long as I’m in class, why does it matter?

The teacher, whose name was Mrs. Roberts, told me where to sit. Great, seating plans; where they always got you to sit next to people you didn’t even want to know. If their goal was to make students’ lives more torturous than they already were, then I’d have to say that they were pretty effective.

I guess it wasn’t all too bad since I sat next to this girl, also in Year 7. As soon as I sat down, she smiled at me, with near-perfect teeth. Yet here I was with my braces. At least they were invisible ones. She was in sports uniform, had smooth pale skin, dyed black hair with slight blonde regrowth and emerald green eyes. God, she was perfect. Nobody looks this pretty when they’re twelve. I could only imagine what she’d look like by eighteen. I quickly glimpsed over her diary to find out what her name is; Tiffany Chisholm. She saw me looking at her and smiled again.

“Hey,” She whispered

“Uh…hi…” I said shyly. She just giggled and I couldn’t help but blush.

“The name’s Tiffany,”

“Ahh,” I said, pretending not to know, “I’m Samuel, but you can call me Sam, if you want.”

We got our timetables and I found out that we were both in the same class; 7C. We were supposed to have maths for first period, but we fortunately had extended homeroom, so our first class for the day was English. I don’t know who the hell thought that maths on first period on a Monday morning was a good idea, but they either weren’t very bright, or they really disliked students. Either way, it wouldn’t surprise me.

In English class, I sat next to Tiffany and we got to know more about each other. It turns out that she went to a private school in the area and a handful of friends, though they all went to a different high school. I couldn’t even imagine how lonely and paranoid I’d feel if that had happened to me. Thankfully, from my original group of friends, only one of us went to a separate school. I wondered how he was going.

Tiffany also told me that she’s really into sports, and plays tennis and netball, as well as trying out for the cross-country more than once in primary. If only I were as active. I spent my spare time playing video and computer games, and watching cheesy sitcoms on TV. However, I did enjoy watching sports a lot more than playing them.

“So, you watch the football?” Tiffany asked

“What, like AFL or soccer?” I asked back

“I meant AFL, but let’s go with both,”

“Soccer is alright, I guess, but I freaking love the footy,”

Nothing was better than kicking back on the weekend and watching your favourite team play. Even Tiffany had to agree with that.

“Who’s your favourite team, then?”

“Definitely the Bombers,”

“Ugh! Essendon? Really? Cats all the way!”

I didn’t mind Geelong, but how the hell could you scoff at Essendon?

Class began when our teacher, named Mr. Dayton walked in. As the class continued, I saw Tiffany swooning over him. Her eyes were locked on him, and she began to sigh dreamily. What the hell did she see in this guy? Was it his English accent? Judging from the accent, I suspect he’s from Birmingham, specifically. I didn’t know how this gift of mine grew, but I think it started from my cousin James, who was obsessed with British television shows. Whenever I went over to his house, we’d most likely be watching either Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, or Only Fools and Horses. Thanks to him, my skills to pick up English accents have been growing.

What else did Tiffany see in our teacher? Was it his eyes? Girls have a thing for guys with blue eyes. My eyes are blue too, I didn’t see Tiffany gawking at me. It must be his clean posture, slim body, or buzz cut. I really don’t know.

I think he began to notice Tiffany daydreaming, since he approached her and asked her a question about the novel we were going to read this term.

“So, would you mind telling us what Diving for Pearls is about, Tiffany?”

She began to stumble on her words, as the class looks into her soul. She cops out by saying, “Sorry, sir, but I wasn’t listening.”

He grinned at her, “Ha. Didn’t think so.”

She sighed, “You’re just so handsome,” not realising what she actually said until she heard giggles from the class. The teacher just gave a smug look, as if he heard compliments like this all the time. There’s another reason to dislike Mr. England. Did he even have a reason to embarrass Tiffany like that? Her face went bright red and hid her face for the rest of the class.

A couple of hours had passed, and it was lunchtime already. Since Tiffany had nobody to talk to during lunchtime, I decided to introduce her to my old friends, who were sitting on the veranda.

“Hey guys, this is Tiffany. She’s in my class and homeroom this year. Tiffany, this is Melanie, her cousin Steve, Mike, and Dave,”

“Hi everyone,” She said shyly

Melanie got up and shook Tiffany’s hand enthusiastically, “Oh, finally! Another girl in the group.” Tiffany just laughed nervously.

As she sat down, Steve asked, “So, Tiffany, which primary school did you go to?”

“Oh, St. Mary’s in Greensborough,”

“Any of your friends are here?” Dave asked. Tiffany just shook her head.

“Well, you can always stay with us,” Dave said cheerfully.

There was a look of relief and comfort from Tiffany. Shortly after, we were talking about our first days in high school so far. Steve and Melanie were in 7B and had maths class. Melanie couldn’t help but roll her eyes when she told us.

“This maths teacher we have cannot teach for crap!” She exclaimed.

“How so?” Dave asked

“Basically, she didn’t tell us how to do anything. She just told us to open the chapter and left us on our own, like, good luck, arsehole!”

“Mike and I are in 7D, and we had phys. Ed.” Dave said

“With the hottest teacher ever,” Mike remarked. What else would we expect him to say?

“Hey, what a coincidence,” I said, “Tiffany and I are in 7C and we had English class with the hottest teacher ever. Oh, he was so dreamy!” I said, mocking Tiffany. My friends laughed and couldn’t help but look at me in confusion. Tiffany rolled her eyes and explained to her what happened in class today.

When the clock reached 3:15pm, I had realised that I had just survived my very first day as a high school student. It was honestly a lot smoother than I had imagined it would be. One thing I need to remember is that is just the first step and I have a long way ahead. Here’s to another five years of this.

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