I was cleaning out my bedroom closet yesterday, and found this English project that I wrote in Grade 9. We had to read an awesome short story, and then each of us had to rewrite the story in another character’s perspective. Without further ado, here’s my retelling of the short story, Golden Girl by Gillian Chan.
If my retelling of the story were a movie, the actors/actresses that would represent the main characters are:
Chelsea Kane (Jonas L.A.) as Anna Murphy
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Donna
Matthew Morrison (Glee, Finding Neverland the Musical) as Mr. Iain McCallum
Susan Sarandon (Enchanted) as Miss Grainger
Zayn Malik (former member of One Direction) as Michael
Cody Simpson as Doug
I can’t help being popular. I just can’t. The long, blond, Taylor Swift-like curls; the big brown eyes; the designer outfits; everything. It’s all a part of who I am. Let’s face it: I, Anna Murphy, am the best looking girl in the school. I am popular.
My dad is loaded, and according to him, nothing’s too good for me. Boys fight over me– like, actually fight. And my mom drives a pink Corvette. (A/N: I got the Corvette reference from “Miss Popularity” by Jordan Pruitt. I thought that line would fit with the story) I’m basically the archetype of a popular tenth grade girl. Although I’m much prettier, of course!
I’m also a natural-born flirt, and when I see a cute guy, I don’t give up. The latest encounter happened one Wednesday afternoon. My best friend, Donna, and I walked into English class and Miss Grainger had this guy with her. He was literally, drop-dead GORGEOUS, like one of those hunks we drool over in those teen music magazines we don’t admit reading because they’re not cool. He was about six foot two with these AMAZING shoulders. At first, I couldn’t really see his face because he was bent over, reading some random list on Miss Grainger’s desk. Then, he looked up, and… WOW! This hunk had green eyes with long, thick lashes. Tanned skin without a zit in sight. He even had a slightly crooked nose that saved him from being a TOTAL pretty boy, although he was pretty freaking gorgeous to me!
I gasped. “Donna, WHO IS HE?!”
She didn’t reply for a moment, although after a few minutes, she finally came back with, “I don’t know, but he’s cute!”
“I know, right?” I replied, totally oblivious to the fact that Grainger was looking at him too. “Aha! Even Grainger’s making eyes at him, the dirty old lady.” I’ve had it in for Miss G. since last year. She just hadn’t heard the news that I was Miss Popularity, and she had made the mistake of telling me it was a shame that I did just enough to get a decent grade. She told me that if I worked hard, I could be absolutely brilliant at English. That’s a real no-no. I mean, the rest of the world has been telling me how wonderful I am, my entire life!
“Come on, settle down. We’ve got a lot to do today.” Grainger gave some latecomers the death stare as they stumbled into the room. “This is Mr. McCallum from the university. He’s going to be with us for the next two months. At first, he’ll be sitting in on some classes, and later he’ll be teaching.”
I gasped and buried my face in my arms. “Oh no, he’s a student teacher. Let’s hope he’s a keeper, I’d really like to get to know him.” The last bit came out in my breathy voice I use to sound sexy. “I hope that creep Lowther doesn’t screw things up again.”
My friends had always told me that I have a selective memory. They’re totally right. Bob Lowther started the trouble with the last student teacher. Honestly, she was so stupid. She told us to express ourselves any way we liked. So he did. For Bob, jumping from desk to desk hooting like a chimp expressed exactly how he felt about her dorky ideas, and the rest of us weren’t far behind. Donna and I sat on our desks screeching as loudly as we could. A couple kids at the back lit up cigarettes. Even Dennis Mason was winging paper planes around. You should’ve seen the look on his face when one of them hit the teacher smack-dab between the eyes and she started to cry. He rushed up to her, apologizing like crazy. I was laughing hysterically, as usual. And I couldn’t help giving Elly Kovacs a hard time for about a week afterward for helping Dennis get the stupid cow out of the room.
Miss Grainger showed Mr. McCallum to a chair and turned her attention back to us. “Get out your copies of Julius Caesar and let’s make a start.”
I was trying to check out the student teacher without being too obvious, so I hadn’t even THOUGHT about getting out my book. Donna nudged me in the ribs.
“All right, all right!” I whispered, hardly taking my eyes off him as I fumbled in my backpack.
I kept staring at him, all the while thinking how awesome it would be to actually get to know him…
This act continued for about 20 minutes until THE DREADED MOMENT happened.
“Anna, just what is so fascinating at the back of the room?” The class burst out laughing, and Grainger couldn’t resist a small smirk. I glanced to the right, and I could tell Donna was trying not to laugh.
As for me, I just blushed and muttered.
I didn’t turn around again after that, but I wasn’t following the play either. I had a piece of paper half-hidden under my notebook, and I was doing an amazing sketch of McCallum.
“Well, Anna? We’re waiting. We don’t have all day here.”
Everyone silently turned to look at me. I stared Grainger down with this sneer on my face as if I had been interrupted at something seriously important. Honestly, what I was doing WAS seriously important!
“It’s your line, Anna.” Miss Grainger was sounding real snippy. “When you follow the text, it makes it run so much more smoothly for those who are listening.”
I wasn’t paying attention; I kept flouncing around in my seat and flicking the pages like the princess I am.
“Ugh! Someone show the girls where we are, for heaven’s sake.” Grainger rolled her eyes upwards, showing us how stupid she thinks we are. Dennis turned around, showing Donna and I the page and pointing to Portia’s speech.
I finally started reading. My face was bright red, and for the first few words my voice was shaky, but I eventually got it together. I didn’t even know what scene it was exactly, all I knew was that I had to read it. No exceptions.
“There, Anna. See what you can do when you concentrate?”
When the class was over and Miss Grainger shepherded the student teacher out, I packed up my books and turned on Donna. “What’s the matter with you?” I spat, acting a lot like Sharpay from the High School Musical film series. “You made me look like an idiot back there.”
No comment. For the first time, my best friend had NOTHING to say about this whole scenario. Nothing at all. I was pretty ticked; I mean, my own best friend humiliated me in front of the whole English 10-1 class, AND the student teacher (also known as my crush!).
“He’ll think I’m a real ditz, being told off for turning around and then not following the text! You know, you could’ve just kept track of where we were meant to be. He’ll think we’re just a couple of little airheads.”
After I said all that, I waited a minute. I waited for Donna to say something. Finally, she spoke.
“Come on, Anna, he’s got to think you’re quite something after the way you read.”
That stopped me from continuing my little rant. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you read Portia like you really felt all those things, so you can’t be stupid, right? You must understand the play. And I saw him looking at you while you were reading, like he was impressed.”
I gasped. “Really?”
“Yeah, really, Anna.”
“Come on, let’s get some lunch.” I sauntered out of the room with a huge smile on my face.
I couldn’t help talking about McCallum for the rest of the day. And on the way home with Donna and some others, I became obsessed.
“Wow! Is he good-looking–but mature, too.”
“Anna, he’s probably only 5 years older than we are,” said Michael, my boyfriend. “The same age as your brother Liam– and you’re always saying what a jerk he is.”
“Yeah, right. He’s nothing like Liam. You can tell this guy’s been around–he’s sophisticated. Very sophisticated.”
“Oh, knock it off, Anna. You’ve never even spoken to him, you’ve only seen him once and suddenly you think you know everything about him.” Michael said. He clearly wasn’t picking up the signals I was giving.
“His suit was one of those fancy designer ones– Boss or maybe even Armani,” Donna tossed in to back me up.
“So what!” Michael was getting steamed himself now. “Anna, that guy doesn’t even know you exist. And even if he does, he’s not going to be interested in a schoolgirl.”
I stopped dead and turned to face my boyfriend, who was going to be my ex-boyfriend really soon if he kept this up. “That’s what you think.” Giving everyone my biggest and brightest smile, I said, “You just wait and see.” My chin was up, daring Michael to challenge me.
Instead, he hitched up his backpack. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Maybe you’ll be in a better mood. Bye, guys.” Off he went, not looking back even once.
In a typical high-school love story, the girl would’ve run after the guy, But all I did was smile. “I’ll show him.”
By the time Mr. McCallum started full-time at school, he had a real following. The girls were drooling over him, and the boys thought he was OK because he was involved with the sports programs. I kept dropping hints that I was going to make a play for him, and as expected, everyone believed me. Michael never really talked to me anymore, but he had this closed look on his face.
McCallum’s first lesson was OK, I guess. At least he tried to make things interesting. It was all about how language changes over the years. He started off by getting us to work in pairs, writing down as many slang words as we could think of. Then he assigned us some homework. He asked us to talk to someone older, like our parents or grandparents, and collect a list of the slang they used when they were our age. The idea was that we could see how words had changed, and maybe how some words had stayed the same, but had different meanings now.
I decided this was my moment to get noticed. My friends waited for me when the bell went, but I just dismissed them with a wave of my hand. I went over to McCallum’s desk while he packed up his stuff.
“Mr. McCallum. does it have to be a parent we ask?” I was smiling full blast.
Without looking up, he replied, “Well, no, anyone older will do.”
“See, I thought I’d ask my great-grandmother. She’s really old, but she’s still all there. I visit her every week in the retirement home, and she tells really interesting stories about when she was a girl. She was a suffragette in England.” To be completely honest, I didn’t like visiting her. Every time, I complained to my friends about how my grandmother had whiskers and slopped her food. But I didn’t even care I was lying. The whole time, I was thinking, please notice me, McCallum. PLEASE!
“That may be a bit too far back, you know. The other kids might find it difficult to relate it to their own experiences and their own lives.”
I didn’t miss a beat this time. “Exactly. That’s why I thought if I interviewed her daughter–my gran–and my own mother, then maybe I could sort of map THEIR experiences, showing how circumstances affected the way they talked and all that.” Oh yeah, I TOTALLY got him this time! “It would take a long time, but it could be really interesting, trust me!”
Closing his briefcase, McCallum looked at me for the first time (or, what felt like the first time). “You’re…?”
“Anna. Anna Murphy.” I glowed positively. Got him this time and there’s no turning back now. I am so freaking awesome!
“Well, Anna, if everyone’s as enthusiastic as you are, the next month is going to be fun.” He smiled in my direction and swept out of the room.
“OH MY GOSH!” I screamed. “Donna, you were right! He really likes me! He was really keen on my idea about the homework, and he even made a point of asking my name! This is going to easier than I thought. You should have seen the way he looked at me. I swear, he looked me in the eyes… and if he hadn’t had to leave so quickly, I think he almost told me that he loved me!” (A/N: Yes, that was a subtle reference to the Jonas Brothers song, “When You Look Me In The Eyes.” I was a huge fan of them at the time I wrote this story. LOL!)
As we passed the glass trophy case, I stopped and checked out my reflection.
My attempts didn’t stop there. Every time I saw McCallum, I gushed away. He always made time to talk to me about some assignment or my slang-in-the-family project. And I had actually done the thing, just like I promised. I was kind of… sucking up, to the teacher, to get him to notice me. Once I’d even spun him this line about how English was my favorite subject (it wasn’t; my favorite subject is actually drama) and how I wanted to be an English teacher. He actually believed me, and he started talking about how he’d decided on English because he wanted to share his love of literature with kids (KIDS?! We’re teenagers, for crying out loud!).
To add to the excitement, there was a big dance coming up! The big news, was that McCallum was going to be there. He’d told some guys on the football team that student teachers were encouraged to get involved in the school’s extracurricular activities. So, he and the nerdy science type were going to help the regular teachers chaperone the event.
“This is my chance, Donna. I know he really likes me but I’ve got to show him I’m not a kid. We aren’t kids, after all; we’re teenagers.”
“He knows that already, doesn’t he? I mean, the way you say he talks to you when you’re alone. You said he just couldn’t act on how he felt, that’s all.”
“Yeah, well, that’s true, but I really want to show how different I am from those girls who have crushes on him.”
I saw McCallum walking towards a red sports car, and went on this spiel about how he was assigned to the school because he was Warren Pelletier’s nephew. Apart from my dad, Pelletier is about the richest man in town. Anyways, Donna didn’t believe me.
When there was no reply, I changed the subject. “So, I’m going to Lexington this Saturday to look for a dress. You want to come?”
“Nah, I’ve got one already. What are you looking for?”
“Just you wait and see.” I smiled knowingly and headed off.
On the night of the dance, I decided I wasn’t showing anyone my dress until the last minute, when we actually got there. Not even Michael. Donna and Doug were going to the dance with us, so we drove by to pick them both up. He didn’t ring the doorbell, just honked from the driveway.
When Donna and Doug got into the back seat, I turned around. “Hey guys. All set?”
“Put your seat belt on, Anna.” Michael’s voice was tight. He was sitting up real straight, glaring out the windshield.
“Alright, give me a break!” Instead of doing what Michael asked me to do, I stayed twisted, facing the couple. “He’s such a grouch tonight.” A giggle managed to escape, choked off as Michael slammed the car into reverse and backed out onto the the street. I was thrown off balance, then finally turned around and sat facing the front, my seat belt still hanging loose.
The gym was already packed by the time we got there. They’d tried to decorate it with clusters of balloons and paper streamers, but it still looked like a hole. Donna and I went to the cloakroom to take off our coats.
I slowly took off my jacket, revealing the dress. It was a deep crimson jersey number that clung to every line and curve of my body. It had an off-the-shoulder neckline, and nothing was keeping it up, which was the whole point.
I spun around to give my BFF the full effect. It was extremely tight, so tight that I couldn’t have been wearing any underwear (don’t worry, I was wearing underwear). “Michael doesn’t like it,” I remarked smugly.
“It’s… different. What did your parents say?”
“They didn’t even notice it. My mom just made a crack about borrowing it for the Lions Club dance.”
No comment. I decided to ask the question of the night. “Do you think he’ll like it?”
Donna just shrugged and said, “Hey, what guy wouldn’t?”
I kind of glided through the crowd, acknowledging them with smiles and waves, like I was royalty.
Michael and Doug had bagged one of the tables arranged around the walls of the gym. When he saw me, Doug went bright red and didn’t say anything, which was super awkward since Michael was sitting there stone-faced and silent. Donna and I kept badmouthing everyone around us, why they shouldn’t have worn what they did, how badly they’d done their hair–you know, the usual. We didn’t really mean anything by it. Besides, I was a little bit distracted. I kept glancing around, trying to spot McCallum in the crowd.
“How about dancing?” I stood up and looked at Michael.
He didn’t move his eyes in my direction, just shook his head.
Doug spoke up. “I’ll dance with you, Anna.”
I noticed that he completely ignored Donna, and stepped on her foot stumbling out onto the dance floor. We danced for a few minutes, before I spotted McCallum in the crowd.
“Wow, does he ever look good!” I exclaimed. “I’m going over there to talk to him, guys. Is that OK?”
Without waiting for a response, I made my way to where he was standing, leaving Doug by himself. Nor surprisingly, a whole group of girls were clustered around McCallum. I grabbed his hand and started pulling him onto the floor. He glanced back at Miss Grainger, who just shrugged.
My brother, Liam, was playing a fast number. I looked up at him, and suddenly the CD stuck. With hardly a pause, Liam had his second player going. His voice came on over the loudspeaker. “Sorry about that, everyone. But never fear, Liam’s here. Let’s slow the tempo down a bit, get into a romantic mood.” He reached for a switch and dimmed the lights. Just like that, Taylor Swift’s song, “Today Was a Fairytale” started playing. It was the perfect chance for me to make a move.
In the gloom, I threw my hands around McCallum’s neck and pressed up against him. His back was rigid and his hands on my waist seemed less holding me than trying to push me away. Even in the dark, we were the centre of attention.
“That’s it, I’m out of here.” I saw Michael stalk off the dance floor.
When the song ended and the lights came back up, I still had hold of McCallum’s hand and he looked real uncomfortable. The dance floor was clearing, and I heard a couple of snickers as McCallum finally pulled his hand free. He muttered something and headed back to Miss Grainger.
For a few seconds, I just awkwardly stood there, unsure of what to do. Then I lit up a smile and kept it burning all the way back to the table.
“He’s the smoothest dancer. Did you see us?” I watched closely for Donna’s reaction to my next statement. “It’s real hard for Iain. He has to play things so carefully until his teaching practice is over. That’s why he couldn’t dance with me again.” I smiled again. Prior to the dance, I had found out McCallum’s first name from my father.
“Yeah, you looked great together,” she replied.
“Hey, where are the boys?” I asked, suddenly realizing that Donna was the only one at the table.
“Michael left, and Doug’s gone to look for him.”
“Oh my gosh! He can be SO IMMATURE at times! I mean, how are we going to get home?” I exclaimed, before storming out of the gym.
On Monday, I came to school wearing black jeans and boots and a white shirt with a black suede vest over it. My hair tumbled around my face in the usual way you know it takes hours to get right. Over the weekend, I had planned my look. This was McCallum’s last week at school and I wanted everything to be perfect!
Strangely, McCallum ignored me for the whole period. When the class was over, I went into my usual routine of packing my things slowly. I was so intent on approaching Iain that I didn’t even notice Miss Grainger coming up behind me.
“Was there something you wanted, Anna?” Grainger had to move back to avoid getting stepped on, because I literally jumped in surprise when she spoke.
“Er, I wasn’t really clear about the assignment, that’s all.” I stuttered. “And I, uh, just wanted Mr. McCallum to go over it with me.”
Putting her hand on the small of my back, Grainger guided me toward the door. “Ask one of the others. I’m sure they’ll have it written down.
For the rest of the week, McCallum continued ignoring me. Every time he saw me, he just hurriedly rushed away. I guess dancing with him had kind of shocked him. So on Friday, I tried again, for the last time.
I wrote him this really romantic letter, asking him to meet me at the coffee shop on Saturday at 11 am. When he saw it, he made a face and crumpled it up.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. McCallum never showed up, and I just sat there drinking the coffee I hated, and trying not to cry. Even worse, I got a text from Michael saying, “We’re through.”
I laid my head down on the table and cried. I cried over not one, but two relationships I had lost in one day.