Authors: Sophia Bennett
2 Palmer Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1DS
If you've ever felt alone in a world full of people talking
This book is for you
âIn the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.'
t's funny how fifteen minutes can change your life.
Sometimes people ask me: would you do it again, knowing what happened? I've thought about it a lot and I suppose the answer is yes, despite everything. Fifteen minutes can be golden. They're all you need to make something beautiful, or save someone from disaster. They can also be black. Either way, fifteen minutes is all it takes to find out who you really are.
We were in Rose's bedroom, at the end of the summer holiday. I was sitting on her window seat, watching a combine harvester in the fields outside and idly scrolling through celebrity news websites on the phone my dad had just given me. School was about to start: GCSE year, where everything really matters and teachers keep asking you what you want to do with your life. These were our last few minutes of peace. Well, relative peace, anyway. As peaceful as you can get when one girl â Rose â was making up a mournful tune on the guitar, another girl â Jodie â was moaning about her ex-boyfriend and a third one â Nell â was trying to calm her down.
âHe's evil and I hate him with a passion,' Jodie announced, slumping against the wall next to me with an angry scowl.
exactly,' Nell pointed out. Nell is calm yin to Jodie's ranty yang. Together they make a normal girl. âI mean, he only changed his status on Interface.'
' Jodie complained. âWithout
me! Just because I was going to France. He said he wasn't sure he could maintain a long-distance relationship. It was TWO WEEKS. Kyle Stanley is a scumbag and that's all there is to it.'
It was our first time back together after weeks away. I'd been visiting my dad in America, and Nell and Jodie had only recently come back from family trips. Rose had been stuck at home all the time, helping on her grandparents' farm. She was still quiet and gloomy, making up sad songs on her guitar.
I looked across to where she sat on her bed with the guitar, and caught her eye. We shared a private smile about Jodie's ranting. Rose changed her tune from the sombre,
folky melody she'd been working on to something Spanish and angsty. It involved lots of fast strumming and dramatic crescendos. You could imagine a Latin singer wailing her distress. Jodie pouted at her.
âShut up, Rose. I'm not
Rose merely raised an eyebrow at her and smiled.
âYou need something to take your mind off him,' Nell said. She was on the floor, sorting out the pile of junk that had accumulated at the bottom of Rose's wardrobe. âYou can't let a boy like that get to you. Oh look! Wow! Rose, d'you remember these?'
She pulled out a pair of scratched yellow plastic sunglasses with frames in the shape of flowers. Rose has very eclectic dress sense, which means it comes from a variety of sources. âEclectic' â a Rose word. She collects them, like I'd started collecting apps for my new phone.
âOh, I wondered where those had got to,' Rose said, looking up for a moment.
Nell took off her smart red specs and replaced them with the yellow flowers. âWhere did you get them?'
âCan't remember,' Rose said absently, looking back at her guitar. âI think it was the Bigelow Festival.'
Luckily nobody was watching me at that point, so nobody saw the sudden colour in my cheeks.
Nell went over to the mirror to admire herself. She looked great in the glasses, even though they were probably designed for ten-year-olds. Nell has a small, pretty face and wavy blonde hair that looks good with anything. Peering closely, because she's practically blind without her glasses, she grinned.
âYou can't be unhappy in these,' she announced.
Then she started to sing a little tune:
âI put my sunglasses on
My yellow sunglasses on'
That's how it started. I think I came up with the next lines.
âAnd I think of you
And all the things you do
And it doesn't matter any more because . . .'
Nell laughed and joined in:
âI've got my sunglasses on.'
Rose strummed a new tune on the guitar to go with them. It was quite different this time: fun, silly and catchy. Not angsty at all. And not like that folky, moody number she'd been working on earlier, which had been starting to worry me.
We liked the lines, so we sang them again, and Jodie even added a little harmony. It was something we often did when we were all together. We'd been doing it so long we even had a band name. In fact, several. We called ourselves the Powerpuff Girls. Or the Cheerios (Jodie's favourite breakfast food), or the Manic Pixie Dream Girls (Rose's idea), or the Xtremes, but only if Rose wasn't around â she's a stickler for spelling. Jodie would choose the music. Nell was our lead singer. Rose was makeup and instrumentals. I was wardrobe and catering.
It had been like that since Jodie, Nell and I were in primary school together. Rose joined us later, when she arrived in my class at St Christopher's. We'd get together
. . . we'd sing. We didn't normally write our own stuff, though: we were more of a cover band. But that day Rose had her guitar out and Nell looked really funny in those glasses, and the words and music just seemed to flow. They weren't Shakespeare, I admit, but they made Jodie smile and that was enough.
Rose reached over to her bedside table and grabbed a notebook from it. She always has one lying around in case she's inspired to write something, as you do. I used to think of myself as a bit of a poet until Rose arrived, but she is the real thing.
âHow does the third line go again?' she asked.
âAre you writing it down?' I was flattered. She'd never written my words down before.
âIt's great, Sash! Really catchy. Except I'm not sure if I've got that line right.'
âI can only remember it if I sing it,' I said, suddenly realising this was true. âI know â why don't we just record it?' I waved my new iPhone at her, thinking this would be the perfect chance to get a new app. That phone was the most beautiful present I'd ever received and I was a little bit obsessed.
Rose agreed, curious, and I found a recording app. We worked out some extra verses, then tried the song out, all clustering round the phone, not sure where the mic was. It sounded OK, but a bit tinny. It was totally working as therapy for Rose's gloomy mood and Jodie's heartbreak, though.
Rose dug out the microphone she uses when she's recording her own songs and, miraculously, also an adapter to fit my phone. We sang it once more, in harmony, then played it back. Surprisingly, we didn't
sound too bad.
Sash,' Nell said. âI know â why don't I video us on it, too? Can I?'
Great idea, I said. Go for it. We don't have time now, but why don't we have a band get-together on my birthday? We can dress up, like we used to in the old days, and make loads of videos. It'll be hysterical.
So we do.
My birthday is three weekends later, on the last Saturday of September. I invite them all over for a sleep-over, and bring home a selection of spare dressing-up clothes from my Saturday job at a vintage shop.
Mum cooks us Thai green curry for lunch, because I'm turning sixteen and it's the most sophisticated thing we can think of. Then we nip upstairs to spend the afternoon dressing up as our favourite pop stars, because we haven't totally mastered maturity
. Not in secret, anyway. Not when it's just us.
Highlights include our Abba interpretation, Jodie as Katy Perry, and Nell as Kylie Minogue, in gold sequin shorts and a white hoodie. She could practically
Kylie: it's uncanny. Rose does a long, sad Irish ballad, not entirely entering into the spirit of things, but it's beautiful. I am olden-days Britney Spears, in a mini-kilt and half my school uniform. We are also, if I say so myself, quite brilliant as Girls Aloud.
âSunglasses' is last. We mime to the audio version we recorded in Jodie's room. By now we're getting tired and I'm half ready for bed.
It's the perfect end to a perfect day. We eat warm
brownies and homemade popcorn. We watch two
back to back in our pyjamas and go to sleep at about five a.m., peppered in brownie crumbs, all huddled in a heap under our duvets on the floor.
Precisely four days later, my iPhone disappears.