The Boy I Loved Before

The Boy I Loved Before by Jenny Colgan

Book: The Boy I Loved Before by Jenny Colgan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jenny Colgan
have lives outside the classroom, and it adds (however slightly) to their disciplinary range if they sound a bit more grown up.
    I could remember where the registration classroom was too, assuming it hadn’t changed. Sixth form was a lot smaller than the rest of the school, and the two years shared a common room Tash and I were never cool enough to go to. But as to who the hell was who, I was fucked for that. I planned to hang around as long as possible and be the last person sitting down, so that I got the right desk.
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    It was the smell that hit me first. It hadn’t changed at all. Gym kit, adolescent sweat, strange chemicals, poster paint, dust, formaldehyde, trainers and, overlaying it all, litres of sprayed-on cheap deodorant and aftershave, choking up the yellow hallways and sweaty plastic handrails.
    This place hadn’t changed an iota. I couldn’t believe it. The tiles were cracked in exactly the same places they had been when I’d left. Who could go sixteen years and not think to replace a cracked tile? The grim pink linoleum hadn’t changed. The supposedly soothing, prison-like shades of pale green and yellow still haunted the corridors, grubbied and coloured with years of Sellotape. Posters along the walls advertised the periodic table and how to say no to drugs (as usual, illustrated with a revolting shot of a needle going in to somebody’s vein rather than, say, a really good relaxed party with
everyone having a nice time, the point at which someone is actually going to have to make a choice).
    I walked along in a kind of a wonder. For the first time, I really did feel transported. This was a world I hadn’t been in for a long, long time. There was a stern exhortation not to run on the stairs. There was a cabinet containing skeletons of animals. A line of kings and queens that I think had been there since I was at school. Some toilets with a telltale whiff of smoke. The school’s rather threadbare coat of arms, and its Latin motto for ‘Let us do our work this day’, ‘Get your homework in on time’, or whatever it meant. My head was spinning.
    â€˜Miss Scurrison!’
    That was … I definitely recognised that voice. I turned round, conscious I was wearing that expression that people do when they listen to a ‘blast from the past’ on This is Your Life. I also suddenly felt my stomach seize up in a sort of panic.
    â€˜Don’t you have a class to go to?’
    It was Mr Rolf, evil geography teacher incarnate. This man had scared the living daylights out of every one of us. Tashy and I always reckoned it was a possibility that he was actually just sizing us up so he could choose what would be the best moment to pull out a big machine gun and kill us all. If someone answered correctly, they got the piss taken out of them. If someone answered wrongly, they got the piss taken out of them. Shouting was unexpected, detentions arbitrary and shockingly swift. I have a vague recollection of someone once getting three thousand two hundred lines. This was a man who regretted the loss of corporal punishment and told us so, repeatedly. He often lamented the lost
legal right to bang children’s heads against walls until they saw sense.
    One’s body’s ability to hold sense memories is extraordinary. I straightened up and flashed a nervous smile.
    â€˜Good morning, Mr Rolf!’
    Even as I said this, I couldn’t help looking at him. The last decade and a half hadn’t been kind to him. Always scruffy, he was now unkempt and grubby-looking, and the ever-present teacher’s dandruff still covered his shoulders. I recalled that he wasn’t married. At the time we’d scoffed that we weren’t surprised. Now I was looking at a sad man, lonely and broken by years of butting up against people who simply would never be able to care about geography. It came out before I could help myself.
    â€˜Are you OK? You look

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