by Lady Holly
Begrudgingly Sophie agrees to arrange a Fourth of July barbecue in England
A Day To Remember
This short story was written for the WDC Teen Contest, with the writing prompt 'Fourth of July Barbecue Party'
Here's the link to the contest
“Sophie you’ll be in charge of the whole thing as I’m going to be in Florida.” Sophie Clarkson looked up from where she was doodling tiny swirly flowers on her note book, rather than paying attention in the school council meeting.
“What?” She frowned, not even pretending to hide the fact she hadn’t heard a word the head girl, Christine Miller, had said.
“God Sophie do you never listen? There’s seriously no point you even being on the council.”
Sophie rolled her eyes; it wasn’t the first time Charming Christine had made such a comment.
“The head wants us to arrange some activities for July the 4th. We’re getting the afternoon off, throwing a big party – and you’re organising it.”
“What?!” Sophie didn’t mean to repeat herself, but really, what else could she say?
“The Fourth of July?”
“In case you hadn’t noticed, Christine, we’re in England.” Finally having recovered from the shock that she actually had to do something, Sophie reverted back to her sarcastic ways. It earned a few snickers from other members of the council – notably the ones who, like Sophie, weren’t that fond of Christine and her bossy ways.
The comment was rewarded with a tight smile from Christine, who clearly wasn’t impressed. “Yes, I do realise that dummy. But the head has some American family coming over for the holiday – benefactors of the school or something. We need to impress!”
“And you’re leaving it to me?” Christine knew Sophie was lazy. In the whole year on school council, she’d organised one bake sale to raise money for year eleven prom, been a judge at the Christmas talent show, and put up some posters to encourage recycling. She hadn’t even designed the posters herself. “Why not Dani?”
All heads at the table turned to Dani, who barely ever said a word. Quite possibly the brainiest girl their secondary school had ever known, no-one really knew why the head had picked her for a position on the council as she hardly contributed to discussions at all. As if on cue, Dani pushed her wide-rimmed glasses back up her nose, eyes going wide, then she shook her head violently and shot her head down, pretending to study the floor. She didn’t look back up.
Sophie realised she’d made a grave mistake and tried to rectify things immediately. “Or Toby?”
“Nah mate!” Came the immediate response.
Christine wrinkled her nose as she turned her head reluctantly to the boy sitting with his chair tipped backwards leaning on the wall behind him.
“Nah, organising parties is for girls. Toby ain’t got time for that! Besides, it’s a day for American’s to celebrate being independent from England. Why would we want to celebrate that?” He rearranged his back to front cap then folded his arms across his chest to signify the conversation was over.
Sophie closed her eyes briefly; she was doomed. Why had the head chosen her to sit on the council with these idiots?
Right on time the bell rang, signalling that the discussion could go no further; Sophie had to organise the party. Toby’s question was, unfortunately, left unanswered.
Before she could escape the room, Christine called over from where she was tucking her neat, clearly labelled folders back into her bag. “I wanted you to do it. Hopefully you’ll fail miserably. Then the head will see how incompetent you are and get you off the council for good!” With a flick of her long blonde hair, she strode out of the room.
Sophie’s mouth fell open. She didn’t even care if she got kicked off the bloody council, she just couldn’t let Christine get the satisfaction of knowing that her plan to get Sophie kicked off the council had worked. Why did Christine have such an issue with her? Okay, so she didn’t do much, but neither did most other council members. In fact, Christine was the only one who really did anything. That’s why they’d voted her head girl. So why was she hell bent on getting Sophie kicked out?
“Well I have to say Sophie, you’ve really done the school proud.” The head said, looking around the court-yard at Sophie’s hard work.
It had been a very stressful three weeks, but now Sophie could relax and bathe in the glory of one of the best parties her school had ever seen.
The patio area outside the school’s main building had been adorned with red white and blue balloons and streamers wrapped around the fencing, tacked onto the walls and doors, spaced out across the picnic tables, dotted in between American flags. The three picnic tables in the little area were each covered in a table cloth (one red, one white, and one blue) with a massive spread of food – anything you could ever need to complement the wide range of meat currently cooking on the big stone grill barbecue. The distinctly delicious barbecue smell filled the air, making Sophie’s stomach growl.
Beyond the main area laid out for people to collect their food, the path opened out to a large green field, boarded with trees decorated with yet even more flags. As families had arrived they’d spread out their own picnic blankets and set up their camp chairs, so now the field had come to life. People of all ages sat and stood about, talking and laughing, eating and drinking. Children of all ages ran in between the blankets, chasing each other to the little brook that boarded one side of the field or racing each other up the trees. A few people were up dancing to the music coming out of the speakers stood on the open window, playing a range of American music – anything from the traditions of the national anthem to the rocky tones of Sweet Home Alabama – courtesy of the music tech class.
“I’m really happy that you managed to unite your year and get everyone to help. Your organisational skills are spot on – you’re a natural born leader. It’s a shame you haven’t had a chance to shine until now!”
Although Sophie had loved lazing about the whole year, she had to admit she rarely felt this satisfied. The pressure of trying to pull off something so major – especially for a holiday that as a teenager from England she wasn’t familiar with – had brought out her determined side.
She had got to work straight away, quickly organising what needed to be done and then working out who was best to get the particular task accomplished. Media geniuses were asked to produce advertisements, the A-Level cooking class given the mammoth task of purchasing the food and the Business students set to sell the tickets to anyone and everyone they could coax into attending.
But the most helpful person by far was Josh Manners. Josh was Sophie’s best friend, and she’d relied heavily on him for support these past few weeks. He was behind the idea of selling tickets to fund the whole party (a simple solution that Sophie had completely overlooked), he’d worked out how much of the budget could be spent on food and how much Sophie could spend in town buying decorations, and he’d picked up the phone at 2am last night to a frantic Sophie fretting over forgetting the tomato ketchup, of all things.
He’d dutifully turned up on her front doorstep at 8.30 sharp with two massive bottles. Sophie could have kissed him.
“Well, like you said, I just bossed everyone about. They were the ones who really pulled it off.” Her eyes wandered over to Josh, standing behind the barbecue grills with an American flag apron on and brandishing a pair of tongs. He caught her looking and gave her a mock salute, before turning to serve a burger to the lady standing patiently with a red paper plate and a bun. She grinned.
“Ah, here’s the young lady who accomplished what you see before you!” The head suddenly declared, as the twosome was joined by Mr Bernard, their American visitor.
“Pleasure to meet you, Miss Sophie Clarkson.” Blue eyes twinkled on a kindly wrinkled face as Sophie took the proffered hand and gave a firm handshake.
“And you. But I didn’t accomplish it on my own! I had loads of help.” Sophie laughed.
“All good leaders need a bit of help now and then.” Mr Bernard nodded.
“Sophie, Mr Bernard is here to choose a student to give a bursary to for their first year of university.”
Sophie’s mind started to turn.
Mr Bernard cleared his throat. “I am indeed. And, young lady, I have chosen you to be the recipient of this gift.”
An excited squeal escaped Sophie, and she clamped her hands over her mouth. “I’m sorry! Me? Thank you so much! Are you sure?”
The American laughed at her delight. “Yes you, I’m quite sure!”
“I really don’t know what to say!” Sophie gushed, catching sight of Josh again, this time bending down so that he’s at the level of the little girl to ask her what she’d like to eat. “Actually, I do.” Her tone turned rather sombre, and both The Head and Mr Bernard looked at her with interest. “I can’t thank you enough for offering me this amazing opportunity, but I can’t accept it. There’s someone who deserves it more.”
Sophie quickly explained how Josh had been her saviour over the last few weeks, and then went on to tell them how much time he’d dedicated to the school over the past five years. From different fundraising events to volunteering to run student reception and running maths mentoring classes, not to mention the awards he’d won from the science and maths departments for various excellent pieces of work and research projects. “You see, Josh deserves it a lot more than me. If you don’t mind me saying, I’d rather you gave it to him.”
Her Head Teacher was nodding.
Mr Bernard cleared his throat again, looking thoughtful. “Well, if you’re sure that’s what you want, then I’d be happy to oblige.”
Sophie let out the breath that she’d been holding in, returning to the bubbly state she was in a few minutes ago. “Thank you so SO much.”
“You can go and tell him.” Mr Bernard smiled kindly, taking her hand for another shake. “A pleasure to have met you.”
With a last thank you and goodbye, Sophie had to stop herself from running over to Josh (which could have caused a serious accident with little kids running about and hot food, not to mention could have caused a major scene) and tried to walk calmly, but knew she was grinning like a mad woman.
“What’s up with you?” Josh frowned at his best friend, waving the tongs in Sophie’s face and trying to playfully pinch her nose.
He turned rather serious as Sophie recounted the conversation she’d just had with their visitor.
When she’d finished, without a word Josh put down the tongs and pulled Sophie towards him, capturing her lips in a searing kiss.
Shocked at first, Sophie softened as the kiss deepened. Was it possible to like someone but not actually realise it? When Josh finally pulled away, Sophie decided it definitely was.
This was definitely going to be a Fourth of July to remember – especially the sour face of Christine Miller, who tried to creep into the party un-noticed after her flight to America got cancelled.
It just goes to show; if you put in the effort life will reward you Sophie thought as she caught Christine glaring and gleefully stuck her tongue out.
Word Count: 1930