A new girl started at school in year 12. Poor thing. Imagine being 17 and having to start at a new school in HSC year. Disaster!

New girl was nice enough. Bit quiet maybe. A couple of the guys thought it would be funny to play a prank and send her a rose for Valentine’s Day. It was a fundraiser for the formal, so lots of people were doing it.

I had heard about the prank on the grapevine and thought how juvenile. We’re almost 18. We’ll officially be adults soon. Haven’t we grown out of this kind of nonsense by now?

I assumed the girls organising the fundraiser would take the boy’s money but not actually deliver the rose. To my horror they visited English class, walked straight up to new girl and handed her a rose. They even had a smirk on their face. The voice in my head kept screaming, ‘What are you doing?’ on repeat. But nothing verbal ever came out of my mouth.

The majority of my classmates hadn’t heard about the prank, so they all crowded around new girl to see who the rose was from. Bursts of laughter broke out when they saw the name on the card.

When class was over, new girl quickly ran off. I think she realised straight away it was a prank.

New girl spent her lunch breaks hiding in the library for the rest of the school year. I still remember it more than 20 years later. Why? Because I still feel so bad that I wasn’t a nicer person. That I wasn’t a better friend.

It’s one of my teenage regrets. I mean, I spoke to new girl and all, and she sat at my table at the Year 12 formal. But I should have made more of an effort. I should have stopped that damn rose from being delivered in the first place.

The above is a modified extract of a competition entry to win a signed copy of B. M. Carroll’s new book, Who We Were. To enter, you had to… simply tell us a memory you have of high school. It can be funny or sad or just a memory that’s still vivid in your mind. After I entered, I thought it works as a flash fiction so here it is.

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