The Boy with the New Trousers

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Peter Bumby had just turned thirteen. He was quite tall for his age and well-built. He had short blond hair and blue eyes. This morning he was wearing a clean white shirt tucked in and his navy school tie with yellow stripes was neatly tied. Instead of his usual navy school trousers, today he wore a new pair of smart grey flannels, fastened with a black belt. His black shoes were well-polished.

As he was walking to school a girl in his class came up behind him. She was slightly shorter than he was and had long dark hair. Her name was Rachel Pearson. She was wearing a white blouse and a navy skirt.

‘Good morning, Mr Bumby,’ she said. Peter blushed. She had always called him Peter until now.

‘Good morning, Miss Pearson,’ he replied.

‘You look very smart today,’ she said.

‘Thank you,’ he replied. He hadn’t overcome his uneasiness, knowing that she was looking at him admiringly, as if trying to work out what was different about him.

‘Mr Bumby,’ she said, ‘have you got some new trousers on?’

‘Yes, Miss Pearson,’ Peter replied. 

‘They’re lovely,’ Rachel said. ‘I think they suit you.’

‘Thank you,’ said Peter. ‘I got them for my birthday.’

‘Your birthday?’

‘At the weekend.’

‘I didn’t know.’

Peter was at a loss for what to say. He and Rachel were friends, but he didn’t know her all that well. The trousers had been part of a suit his parents had bought him for his birthday. He hadn’t had occasion to wear it yet, but decided to wear the trousers to school for a change, as boys were allowed to wear grey as well as navy, though very few did. He hadn’t really expected anyone to notice. No-one else seemed to for the rest of the day. He didn’t really think about Rachel again, until he was at home in the evening, when an envelope was posted through the front door. While he was watching television in the front room with his younger sister Louise, their mother came in and handed Peter the envelope.

‘There’s a card come for you,’ she said to him. It was addressed to ‘Mr Peter Bumby’. ‘Who’s calling you Mr Bumby, I wonder?’ 

‘Mr Bumby!’ Louise laughed.

Peter opened the envelope. He didn’t recognise Rachel’s writing but he knew it must be from her. He was right. The strange feeling he had felt that morning was with him again.

‘It’s from Rachel at school,’ he said. ‘A late birthday card.’

‘Is she your girlfriend?’ asked Louise.

‘Don’t be silly,’ Peter replied.

‘Is that why you had those posh trousers on today? Trying to impress her?

‘Leave him alone,’ Mrs Bumby said. ‘He looked really nice.’

‘I bet Rachel thought so,’ Louise continued.

‘She did actually,’ said Peter. 

‘You see. Or did she think you looked like an old man? Is that why she’s calling you Mr Bumby?'

‘Louise, I’ve told you - leave your brother alone,’ said Mrs Bumby. It was good of her to send you a card,’ she continued, turning to Peter. ‘Make sure you thank her.’

‘I’ll send her a text,’ he said, ‘or call her.’

Peter kept thinking about Rachel. Was she teasing him, or did she like him? Certainly the card was a lovely idea. 

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