Greetings! So this is my new story. I've had this idea for ages now, and have only just put it too fruitation. As a Christmas gift. Also, I am working on a prequel to Child Swap and a sequel to A Long Year's Nightmare even though I said I wouldn't. Too bad, I guess. And there will be cameos from my OCs and the lovely Allegra who belongs to Cornadopia. She's given me permission to borrow her. So special thanks to her!

"This is your lunch, ok?" said my dad, handing me a paper "I put a Euro in there so you can buy some milk. You'll find Romeo soon enough and he'll tell you where to do that"

"You remember your phone number? I wrote it down for you, just in case" said my mum. She handed me a slip of paper "Put it in your pocket, I don't want you to lose it"

"OK? You ready?" asked my dad.

"I think so" I replied.

"It's Benvolio's big day" declared my dad.

I suppose it's natural for parents to be worried on their kid's first day of school. But this usually happens when the kid is five. And I'm sixteen. Until today, I was homeschooled. I know what you're thinking. Home-schooled kids are freaks, like super nerds who can spell xylocarp. Or that we're weirdly religious or something. But my family's totally normal.

Except for the fact that my parents are passionate pacifists and we've spent the last twelve years in Africa, helping to rebuild communities after the war. But then Prince Escalus offered them both a knighthood for their work, and wanted to start a new charity with them as the patrons based in Verona. And my parents missed our family. So it was goodbye Africa, hello Verona, hello Montagues and hello high school.

Both my parents insisted on a picture, and then I turned to head over the road. Just as I stepped out, a car whizzed past. I jerked back onto the pavement and turned back to my horrified parents.

"I'm OK. Sorry. I'll be careful"

I crossed the road successfully, and then headed through the throes of stupid. Pretty preppy cheerleaders glanced over snootily, nerds shrivelled up with their books, Goths glared my way, and some other boys were graffiting a wall. I wandered through this maze, and using the map I'd been given, found myself in the classroom I'd been told to go to.

I headed towards a confident blond guy standing at the front who I assumed must be our teacher.

"Hi. I don't know if anyone told you about me. I'm a new student here. My name is Benvolio Montague"

He looked at me disgusted "Talk to me again and I'll bitch slap you"

I was stunned. It turns outs he was a student. The sensible thing to do seemed to sit down. I headed towards the desk in the front row.

"Uh uh, you don't wanna sit there. Gabriel Fulgencio's girlfriend is going sit there" said a boy with mischievous green eyes and dark unruly hair.

The girlfriend rolled into the seat "Hey, baby" said Gabriel, and they started to make out. I headed to a seat behind another guy, near the boy who told me not to sit down.

"He farts a lot" said the boy. I wandered the front of the glasses, totally unsure of where to sit.

"Hey, everybody" said a cool female voice, and then I banged into the owner of said voice. The class roared with laughter, particularly the boy who had spoken to me.

"Oh, God, I'm so sorry" I gasped, horrified. Her drink had slopped over her shirt and her books and papers were scattered everywhere.

"It's not you. I'm bad luck" said the woman, starting to take off her sweater.

"Ms. Nurse?" said a man standing in the door.

"My T-shirt's stuck to my sweater, isn't it?"

"Yeah" I said. I pulled it down hurriedly, hoping to amend what had happened earlier.


"Is everything all right in here?" asked the man.

"Oh, yeah" said Ms. Nurse, sorting herself out.

" was your summer?" the man asked again.

"I got divorced"

"My house got egged by chavs"

"I win" said Ms. Nurse.

"Yes, you do" said the man, but he didn't look convinced.

"Well, I just wanted to let everyone know that we have a new student joining us" said the man. I now believed that he was probably the head teacher. I wasn't sure. My parents had done all the arranging. I was too miserable to care that we were leaving Africa.

"He just moved here all the way from Africa" said the head teacher.

Ms. Nurse's gaze moved from me to a black guy sitting in the back row "Welcome"

"I'm from Mantua"

"Great" she beamed, giving him a thumbs up.

"His name is Benvolio. Where are you, Benvolio?"

"That's me" I said, raising my hand to be noticed. I was pleased that there was now some order and I'd understand what was going on "But my name's pronounced with the l on the end sounding more of a lee, rather than a lie"

"My apologies" said the head teacher "I have a niece named Charmin, and I know how mad she gets when I call her Charmain. Almost as mad as I get when I think about the fact that my brother named her Charmin"

"Well, welcome, Benvolio" said Ms. Nurse, turning to me "And thank you, Mr. Lawrence"

"Well, thank you. And if you need anything or if you want to talk to somebody"

"Thanks. Maybe some other time, when my shirt isn't see through"


"OK. Good day, everybody"

The first day of school went past in a bit of a blur. A stressful, surreal blur. I got in trouble for the most random things. I couldn't go to the bathroom without something called a lavatory pass and when I tried to ask for one, I was just told to sit back down again. I mean, I had never lived in a place where adults didn't trust me and were always yelling at me! I was yelled at for reading ahead and using a green pen, and for eating in class.

Then it was lunchtime. I hadn't seen Romeo yet. I couldn't even remember what he looked like; it had been years since we had last met.

I collected my milk from the canteen, and turned to find a place to sit. There was a group of guys sitting together. I caught a snatch of their conversation.

"I told you, I saw the whole thing"


"Did you see nipple? It only counts if you saw a nipple"

"That's true, dude"

I'd had a lot of friends back in Africa, but so far none in Verona. I ended up eating my lunch in the loos. Most of the loos I'd used back in Africa hadn't been the nicest of places, but I was shocked to find that in a developed country, the boys loos were absolutely disgusting. I was relieved to get home.

"Hey. How was your first day?" asked my dad eagerly.

I looked at my parents and stormed into the house.