Girl Power - - WHAT'S HOT - by Tris­tan Bancks

Here’s a sneak peek in­side this LO Lar­i­ous new novel – it’ll have you in stitches!

Stella Holling: Sugar Rush

I think I must have done some­thing wrong in a pre­vi­ous life, and pay­back is stand­ing on my front doorstep. ‘To-om!’ she sings. ‘Open u-up!’ I am in my lounge room, peer­ing through a crack at the edge of the cur­tain. The TV mut­ters in the back­ground. Stella Holling is on the ve­randa hold­ing a large white box. She is freck­led, skinny and short, with a choco­lates-moth­ered mouth. She is wear­ing pinkand-white bunny ears on her head. I never thought she’d come here again. A man should feel safe in his own home. ‘I know you’re in there,’ she says. ‘Kissy, kiss-y!’ Stella Holling has been in love with me since sec­ond grade. One time, not too long ago, she tricked me into kiss­ing her on the lips in front of about 50 high-school boys. It was the dark­est day of my life. I still scrub my lips with soap ev­ery night but it doesn’t wash away the pain. At least, that time, we were in the play­ground. There were wit­nesses. To­day, I’m home alone. Mum and my sis­ter Tanya are out shop­ping. They’ll be gone for hours. I eke the cur­tain open a lit­tle more. The choco­late smeared around Stella’s mouth scares me, it re­ally does. It’s Easter Mon­day and I’ll bet you 50 bucks she’s been stuffing her gob with cheap choco­late for two days straight. And you know what the main in­gre­di­ent in cheap choco­late is? Sugar. Stella goes cuckoo when she eats sugar. I once saw her scale the school flag­pole af­ter a hand­ful of M&M’s. Mr Barnes, the main­te­nance guy, had to climb the 13-me­tre ex­ten­sion lad­der to save her. I’ve been dodg­ing Stella’s phone calls for weeks. Ev­ery af­ter­noon she rings me ten, 12, some­times 20 times. Usu­ally she doesn’t say any­thing, but I know that wheezy breath­ing when her throat is thick with choco­late. And it’s been get­ting worse. On Thurs­day I ig­nored ten calls, then I picked up and screamed, ‘Whad­dya want, you creepy freak?’ But it wasn’t Stella. It was Mum. And she was re­ally an­gry be­cause I hadn’t been an­swer­ing the phone. I told her I’d been in the bath and she said, ‘You haven’t will­ingly taken a bath in your life, Tom Weekly.’ There’s no way I could say that I didn’t an­swer the phone be­cause of Stella. I did that once and Mum rang Stella’s mum, and they de­cided we should all get to­gether to dis­cuss the

sit­u­a­tion. She in­vited them over on a Satur­day af­ter­noon. The mums ate bis­cuits and drank tea and had the great­est time of their lives, while I was left to en­ter­tain Stella and show her around the house. She tried to kiss me on the cheek the sec­ond we were out of our moth­ers’ sight and I screamed. Mum said, ‘Stop be­ing a baby, Tom.’ Me! A baby! I’m one of the tough­est guys I know. Af­ter Stella and her mother left, Mum said, ‘Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Lit­tle Stella’s not too scary for you, is she?’ And she made me feel like I ac­tu­ally was a baby, which I’m not. I know one thing for sure: Stella Holling is never set­ting foot in­side this house again. She pounds on the front door. ‘Let me in, Tom. Please. I just want to give you your Easter present.’ She’s star­ing right at me now. She knows I’m watch­ing her from be­hind the cur­tain. She opens up the big white box. She bats her eye­lashes, which makes me shiver. She reaches into the box and pulls out the largest Easter rab­bit I’ve ever seen. It’s the one from the win­dow of the French patis­serie on Jon­son Street. It is smooth and wrapped in gold foil with a bright red rib­bon around its neck, and the sec­ond I see it I know that I must have it. I have not eaten a sin­gle sliver of choco­late this Easter. Mum de­cided to give our Easter egg money to char­ity, so I went hun­gry and a kid in some far­away land got a rooster and a set of pen­cils. I know I should feel happy for him, but it’s hard. ‘Can I come in now?’ Stella asks. I move away from the win­dow. I need time to think. I want the rab­bit but I can­not kiss Stella Holling. Not again. The ques­tion is, how do I get the rab­bit with­out the kiss? I go to the front door. ‘Stella?’ I call out. ‘Yessy?’ she says. ‘You can leave the rab­bit on the doorstep. Thank you for com­ing over . . . Happy Easter.’ I wait. I lis­ten. I pray. She gig­gles. ‘You don’t think I’m go­ing to just leave this big, bootiful, ex­pen­sive wab­bit with­out see­ing you in the flesh, do you?’ ‘Um . . . maybe?’ She gig­gles again. ‘You’re so silly, Tom. That’s why I love you.’ ‘I would pre­fer that you didn’t say that, Stella.’ ‘Why?’ ‘You know that I love Sasha,’ I tell her for the mil­lionth time. ‘No, you don’t. You just think you do.’ ‘Pretty sure I do.’ ‘Oh, Tom. You don’t know what love is,’ she says. ‘You’re just a boy. When we get mar­ried –’ ‘We’re not get­ting mar­ried, Stella. For the last time, we are not get­ting mar­ried.’ ‘Not now, Mr Silly,’ she says. ‘It’s not even legal to get mar­ried at our age. But when we’re old enough . . . I’ve planned the whole thing. We’re go­ing to have –’ ‘ARE YOU GO­ING TO GIVE ME THE RAB­BIT OR NOT?’ I shout. Awk­ward pause. ‘I will if you show some man­ners and don’t act like a greedy, un­grate­ful lit­tle piggy.’ This is go­ing to be more dif­fi­cult than I thought. ‘Just drop the rab­bit on the doorstep and take three large steps back,’ I say. ‘Then I’ll –’ ‘You drop the at­ti­tude and wash your mouth out with soap and wa­ter!’ she snips. ‘I’m get­ting the feel­ing you don’t want to see me, Tom, which up­sets me.’ ‘Don’t get weird, Stella. It’s just –’ I hear foot­steps mov­ing across the ve­randa. ‘You still there?’ I call. Noth­ing. ‘Stella?’ Si­lence. I go to the win­dow and peek out. A breeze picks up, mak­ing Mum’s hang­ing pot plants swing from side to side...

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