The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie (6 page)

These issues of
mine
?

Had she misunderstood me completely?

Certainly, I will not be ‘swinging by' for a chat!

I simply stared.

‘The Buddy Plan,' repeated Try, enthusiastically resuming her accent. She ran her eyes around our circle. ‘I'm going to start by putting you in pairs,' she explained. ‘So! You and you are a pair.' She pointed at Emily and Astrid. Emily kissed the top of Astrid's head and Astrid, ceremoniously, did the same to her.

‘And you two,' Try continued, pointing at Elizabeth and Sergio, who nodded at one another, gravely, ‘and
Bindy,
you can be with . . .' She paused for the first time, her eyes travelling around the circle. ‘Bindy can be with Finnegan.'

I did not look at his face so I don't know how he reacted.

Certainly, he did not kiss the top of my head.

‘So that leaves you two.' She pointed at Toby and Briony, and Toby, inexplicably, picked up his notebook and slapped Briony across the knees. Briony seemed unsurprised.

‘You must always be available for your buddy,' said Try, ‘and from now on, if anything is worrying you, please go straight to him or her.'

‘Astrid,' said Emily. ‘I finished my Toblerone.'

Astrid stood up at once, knocking over her chair, and looking about her, one hand on Emily's shoulder. ‘STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE,' she shouted. ‘I'm GETTING YOU A NEW TOBLERONE.' She began lifting gym mats and climbing stacks of chairs.

‘That's the way,' said Try, laughing. ‘Anyway, you can sit down now, Astrid. I
had
planned to start off with some trust exercises—you know, you fall backwards into your buddy's arms and trust your buddy to catch you; you tie your hands together and lead each other around blindfolded? But these are things to do outside and that's not on the cards today! Astrid, okay, that was pretty funny. Sit down for now. As I was saying, we'll do trust another time.'

Now, she was taking out
another
set of papers.

It was entitled ‘Buddy Contract', but it looked like a questionnaire.

‘Now and then,' said Try, ‘I'd like you to write a few paragraphs—a kind of Buddy Diary—about how the Buddy Plan is working for you. For now, I'm going to send you off to fill in these contracts. But where to send you? If only the gym were empty.'

Then she tilted her head and said, ‘Hey.
Is
the gym empty? Weren't there kids in there doing a gym class last week?'

Everyone stared at the concertina wall.

‘If they're in there,' said Toby. ‘They're
very, very
quiet.'

‘Maybe they're sleeping?' suggested Emily.

‘That reminds me,' said Sergio, turning to Try: ‘When do we all start sleeping together?'

‘I doubt we'll sleep together,' said Astrid. ‘We'll
SORGHUM
each other's brains out though.'

‘Well now, hang on,' said Try.

‘Check in Try's basket,' suggested Toby. ‘She'll have the paperwork.'

‘Permission slips for our parents,' murmured Elizabeth.

‘Don't worry, Try,' Emily said. ‘We'll be
way
better at it than every other FAD group.'

‘Do we get to sleep with everyone or just our buddy?' Sergio wondered, at which Elizabeth crossed her legs (once), Toby slapped Briony's knees (again), and Briony began to bite her nails.

(Now, can I just point something out? During our Year Assembly last week, the Year Co-ordinator welcomed us and said this: ‘When you left us at the end of Year 10 last year, you were kids. Today, you sit before me as adults.'

I must give him a copy of the above conversation.)

Fortunately, Try jumped to her feet, opened the concertina wall, and revealed that the gym was empty.

‘Find a corner with your buddy,' she said, ‘away from everyone else, and fill in these forms. Come back in twenty minutes and I'll tell you my surprise!'

There is a raised stage at the front end of the gymnasium, with a small flight of steps leading up to it. Finnegan Blonde led me there. He has a comfortable walk. His hair continues to surprise me by being such a pale, golden blonde. It's rather like the sunshine on white sand. I suppose he comes from a sandy place—the beaches of northern Queensland.

He sat on the edge of the stage, and I sat on the staircase next to him. There were other pairs in various places
around the gym, but we couldn't hear their voices for the rain. Meanwhile, the storm outside made the gymnasium eerily dark.

We both looked down at the form in our hands.

‘So,' said Finnegan. ‘You want to start?'

I need not bore you with the details of the form-filling, or with everything that Finnegan said. I need only say that I now have to take a class in kickboxing.

Finnegan must improve his marks.

Try called us from the opening of the concertina wall, ‘Ok, come on back now! I have to tell you my surprise!'

I felt relieved to be finished with the ‘buddy session'.

I walked back quickly, not looking at Finnegan Blonde.

There was a strange scurry to sit down, as if this were musical chairs.

‘Okay, are you ready?' Try's eyes sparkled excitedly.

Even I became intrigued.

‘Here's the surprise! Ok, this storage room is really no place to meet, right? It's small, it's dusty, it's ridiculous.' Everyone nodded. ‘So, I've got us another room and wait until you hear where it is? You ready?
It's in Castle Hill!
No, I'm not kidding! I've checked your timetables and turns out you all have a free period directly after FAD. So, we've got plenty of time to get back to school before final rollcall.
And
I've found this great café in Castle Hill called the Blue Danish which has this room which groups can use, and they've said we can use it every week!
What do you think?'

This was preposterous.

I could not believe what I was hearing.

Outrage billowed within me, even as the others were congratulating Try, and laughing at her (because everyone
knows the Blue Danish already—it's one of their favourite cafés) and Try was sitting back with a grin.

‘Excuse me,' I said in a strident voice. ‘I assume this is a joke?'

Try's smile began to fade.

I noticed with alarm that my own mouth was trembling. I pressed my feet firmly on the ground and continued: ‘A free period is not a free period, it's a study period. Getting back to school from Castle Hill every week would cut that study period in
half,
nay, it would
devour
that period! You don't realise how important that is?'

Now Try was biting her lip, while the others fell silent one by one.

The bell rang.

‘Hey Bindy,' said Emily, as if I had not been speaking. ‘Have you talked to Mrs Lilydale this week?'

The others took the opportunity to gather their bags and leave. I heard the following comments: ‘See you at the Blue Danish next week', ‘They have the
best
coffee', and ‘You gotta love their raspberry friands.' I even heard someone say: ‘What's up Bindy's
ARROWGRASS?'
and someone else respond: ‘She's always like that.'

I turned to Emily.

‘No,' I said, calmly. ‘I haven't seen Mrs Lilydale this week. Ernst said she wanted me, but I couldn't find her at lunchtime. How did you know she was looking for me?'

‘She's going to tell you who the new person is on your debating team,' Emily said. She was swinging her bag from arm to arm as she spoke.

‘FLAX
me,' said Astrid grimly as Emily's bag smacked her in the stomach.

‘FLAX,'
said Emily, ‘are you okay?' But Astrid had already
recovered and was taking Emily's elbow to drag her towards the door.

‘How do you—?' I began.

‘It's me,' said Emily, over her shoulder. ‘I'm going to be on your debating team.'

Then she and Astrid were gone.

My head began to ache.

6

A Memo from Bindy Mackenzie

 

To:
Mrs Lilydale
From:
Bindy Mackenzie
Subject:
The Death of Debating
Time:
Wednesday, 2.40 pm

Dear Mrs Lilydale,
I tried to find you at lunchtime and I've just looked for you again, but no luck.

I guess you want to see me to discuss a new second speaker? Coincidentally, Emily Thompson has mentioned that
she
wants to join the team! I assume this is some kind of misunderstanding.

As you know, debating is very important to me—I probably won't stay on the team next year, because of concentrating on the HSC. So this is my last chance to win the Tearsdale Shield (again).

It would be great if you could clear up this confusion as soon as possible! Ernst and I are happy to discuss a new member, and naturally, we would
consider
E.T., along with all the other options.

Sincerely,

Bindy Mackenzie

A Memo from Bindy Mackenzie

 

To:
Ernst von Schmerz
From:
Bindy Mackenzie
Subject:
DISASTER
Time:
Wednesday, 2.45 pm

Dear Ernst,
EMILY THOMPSON THINKS
SHE'S
GOING TO BE SECOND SPEAKER.

(I know.) (Say no more.) (Me neither. I can't believe it either.)

I went straight to find Mrs Lilydale but she's still not in her office so I put a memo under her door. But I could hardly come right out and say that Emily is too stupid, could I? (Mrs L. surely knows that already. Or at least she has access to Emily's class records?)

What does Emily think she's doing, anyway? Isn't she too ‘cool' for debating? Why would she sink to our level?

Come and find me in the library as soon as you get this! I'll be there for a while after school but not too long as I have to babysit.

I'll keep trying Mrs L.'s office sporadically through the afternoon. If I find her, don't despair, I will convince her of her folly.

Best,

B.

PS Your ‘philosophical musing' poem was great. Very funny.

A Memo from Ernst von Schmerz

 

To:
Bindy Mackenzie
From:
Ernst von Schmerz
Subject:
And Yet
Time:
Wednesday, after school some time

Yo Bind,
Emily Thompson on our team? Rock my kingdom like a cradle, Bind, that's total. Why you trippin? Emily is flippin and fly. I dig that chick.

Take some serenity, B: if Em joins our team, it will be both gangsta and inspired. That's my view, anyhow, so fry it up anyway you like.

Would love to chat, nevertheless, I must leave this at your locker. And will blog on the issue of Emily some time, so check it out should you like to. If only I had time to seek you in your dominion, but I don't as I must run thru the rain to my transcendental chatroom.

Ernst

PS But what do you mean about Emily ‘sinking' to our ‘level'?

A Memo from Bindy Mackenzie

 

To:
Mrs Lilydale
From:
Bindy Mackenzie
Subject:
Apologies
Time:
Wednesday, 4.00 pm

Dear Mrs Lilydale,
I must apologise for my slight outbreak of temper in your office just now. I'm sure you understand: it was just that I feel very strongly about this issue. And I was so surprised that you couldn't see my point of view!

As I said to you, I
really
think it's a mistake letting Emily on the team. It spells DOOM for debating! It spells SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION for the Tearsdale Shield! (It's mainly made of wood, remember.) Think about it: when has Emily even shown the slightest glimmer of interest before? I doubt she even really knows what debating is. Don't you remember how disrespectful she was to
you
when she played at being a ‘lawyer' last year? She'll never show up, you know—she'll disrespect debating, too, preferring parties, shopping or some other phenomenon of teenage life.

Let's choose someone else for the team. I'm sure Emily won't mind, and I hope with all my heart that you agree.

Bindy Mackenzie

FROM THETRANSCRIPTFILE OFBINDYMACKENZIE
Wednesday, 4.25
On the bus, on the way to ‘babysitting' for Eleanora.

Boy in the aisle speaks to a girl:
Cause that's why you eat chocolate, cause serotonin gets released in the brain.

Girl replies:
Yeah, I was thinking, if you, like, ate chocolate and then gave someone a hug? It'd be like sensory overload. [
She shakes her folded umbrella, holds it up and says:
] Are you umbrella
aware?

TO:  
[email protected];
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Wednesday, 9.30 pm
SUBJECT:   Permissions . . .

Dear Mum and Dad,
Hi there! How are you both? I'm well, thanks, though busy— we've already got a superabundance of homework. The teachers must think we have access to alternate universes in which we can draw on unlimited resources of time! And somehow I have to find time for Kmart, babysitting and piano practice (and lessons) as well!

Meanwhile, life here is chaotic. Auntie Veronica and Uncle Jake are great, and Bella is adorable—but that family have the vocal powers of kakapo birds!

Auntie Veronica and I have breakfast together each day, because we both get up early, and both like pink grapefruit
with a light dusting of sugar. And I'll tell you something funny. Sometimes, Veronica will suddenly drop her spoon onto the table with a clatter, and then she will half-shout: ‘Bindy Mackenzie!'

At this, I gasp with fright, and then I say, hesitantly: ‘Yes?'

But she simply picks up her spoon again, shakes her head to herself and says, ‘Bindy Mackenzie at my breakfast table. How superb.'

Uncle Jake sleeps in each day and hardly ever goes to university. He locks himself in his study with a sign on his door that says: ‘NO ENTRY'. Despite the sign, Bella wanders in all the time. And the other day I heard Jake say: ‘Bella, can't you read?' and Bella replied, ‘Yes, Daddy, I can read, but the words fall out of my head.'

She's so funny.

She really can read, you know. And she's only four years old. Veronica and I both think she's ready for school, regardless of whether the words fall out of her head.

Anyway, how are things in the city?

I hope your ventures are succeeding beyond your wildest dreams.

Could one of you do me a favour? I'm supposed to get permission to go on some excursions for a new course called Friendship and Development. It isn't assessable, and I cannot see its point. I'll scan in the relevant notes. I'd be grateful for your feedback.

Best,

Bindy

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Wednesday, 9.31 pm
SUBJECT:   OUT OF OFFICE AUTO-REPLY

Cecily Mackenzie will be unable to read your e-mail until Thursday next week. If your message is urgent, please contact Cecily's assistant, Megan, at
[email protected]

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Wednesday, 9.55 pm
SUBJECT:   Re: Permissions . . .

Dear Bindy,
Hi there, yourself.

Permissions granted, as requested.

Best,

Dad

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