In technology that afternoon, I’m not concentrating on the block of wood I’m supposed to be sawing, and I don’t even realise I’m still moving the saw until Debs clicks her fingers in my face and says, “Chessie, what are you doing?”
I look down and the saw is halfway through the workbench. It’s embedded. In fact, it’s downright stuck. I pull and wiggle it but it won’t come out.
Oh, hell. Why do I always manage to mess something up?
I stick my hand up in the air and hope the teacher won’t make a scene about it. It was an accident, after all. I really don’t need Lloyd thinking that this is another lesson that I’m totally incompetent in. Is it too much to ask that he might think I’m good at something? Even just one thing?
“Miss Clemenfield?” Mr Vale asks in his most patronising voice.
“Sir, I, um, had a little accident,” I say, stepping back so he can see the saw that’s gone right through the wooden workbench.
“Oh dear. A little overzealous with the sawing, were we?”
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I thought I was still doing my block. My mind was somewhere else.”
“Thinking about boys, no doubt, eh? I know what kids your age are like.”
I’m just about to put in that I was actually thinking about ways to improve our technology lessons when suddenly Mr Vale’s voice is booming around the classroom.
“Everybody, gather round,” he’s saying, and gesturing with his hand to come over to our table.
Thirty students gather around us. I can feel Lloyd’s imposing frame right behind me. If I leaned back a little I’d be touching him. I wish I had the courage to do that. I wish we were friends. I wish he’d comfort me and tell me that it doesn’t matter that I’ve embarrassed myself yet again and the teacher is making a scene about it. But I don’t really get a chance, because Mr Vale prods me out of the way a little too forcefully, and I fall off my stool. I go to grab something to hold me up, and horror of horrors, I grab at the one thing that I never wanted to meet with in this way.
I have grabbed Lloyd Layton’s crotch.
The entire class is practically rolling on the floor in fits of giggles, and up until now, I would have thought it humanly impossible to turn red so fast.
It occurs to me that it might be a good idea to let go, and I drop my hand and jump back like I’ve been burnt.
Even the teacher is laughing. I don’t dare to look up at Lloyd, but I would imagine he’s gone bright red too. At least he’s not laughing like all the others.
“Sorry,” I mumble in an upward direction, and settle myself back on my stool, trying in vain to hide my head in my hands.
“That’s enough excitement for one day,” Mr Vale says finally, even though he’s still giggling himself. “I just wanted you all to see what happens when someone like Miss Clemenfield pays more attention to Mr Layton’s work than to her own.”
Crap. He noticed that?
Oh well, I don’t see what it matters because my face cannot get any redder right now.
Eventually the class file away and Mr Vale removes the saw from the bench and hands it back to me with a grin. I sneak a glance over towards Lloyd. There is a definite hint of a blush in his cheeks.
Great, not only do I embarrass myself beyond belief but I make him feel bad too.
“At least you can’t say he hasn’t noticed you anymore,” Debs whispers.
“Thank you. That makes me feel so much better.”