She finds it screwed up at the back of the wardrobe, twenty years later. Sugar paper. Christ, how long it seems since sugar paper and handwritten projects, photos printed out, guillotined neatly, and stuck down with Pritt Stick. It didn’t suit the perfectionist in her – too hard to make it look good.
Not that she expected to still be doing projects like that at seventeen.
It was meant to ease them in gradually, she supposes. Start of sixth form, something easy to make the classroom look pretty. A poster, for fuck’s sake. She wanted to get her teeth into the real work, to learn new stuff.
She’d learned new stuff with him.
With him, there’d been no easing in gradually. No steady working their way up through the bases. They covered them all in one night – first kiss mid-afternoon and her virginity gone by midnight. Though she liked him more than the hurry suggested. A lot more.
If he was nervous, he didn’t let on – she liked that – but he wasn’t cocky, either. He touched her the same way she imagined he’d handle a new phone – as if he still had a lot to learn but the basics weren’t beyond him – as if he trusted his ability to get to grips with her body.
School started again before she had the chance to find out, and the project, shitty though it was, gave them an excuse to pair up, a reason why he’d be in her bedroom of an evening, a reason for him to slide his hands up her top as she rendered the title in perfect bubble letters.
‘Stop,’ she laughed, batting his hands away, ‘we need to finish this first!’
He was rock hard in his jeans, distracted no doubt, as he captioned a photo of a ‘weird and wonderful museum’ in deepest Wales.
Her back was turned, and then, ‘Wierd?! You idiot! You’ve ruined it now!’
He stormed out, the front door slamming behind him. In class the next day, he’d moved seats, tippexed out their intertwined names from his pencil case. Her cunt couldn’t forget him so fast, and the B they got for their efforts was poor compensation for the empty ache inside her.
Eventually she thinks she’s forgotten him. She no longer wanks over his memory, his too-big boxer shorts, his thick cock. There are other men, of course.
But she’s kinder to the ones who can’t spell.