Chapter 1

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Hi everyone! Leigh (@leigh_) here, and I'm so excited to announce the really exciting project I've been working on with Comic Relief to celebrate Red Nose Day. When thinking of charity and comedy, my mind instantly went to all the wacky things people have been known to do in the way of fundraising. And I think you'll find my characters take it to the next level...

I'm so excited for you to read this story, and I hope you fall in love with Mia and Alex as much as I did when writing them!

Leigh

***

It all started with a box.

Said box had been sitting in the sixth form common room for the best part of a week, but I wasn't sure anybody had even noticed. The sign I'd scribbled in permanent marker and underlined five times had done about as much good as invisible ink. My classmates brushed past like it wasn't even there, and even knocking it off the table with the corner of their bag wasn't enough to make them look round.

Of course, you could argue that it was a cop-out putting the box there in the first place. We were the ones wanting to fundraise, so we probably should've been doing the thinking ourselves. But Alex and I had already agreed how deadly boring bake sales were - and anyway, half the sixth form girls had already proclaimed themselves to be on strict vegan diets, like the reason for turning down the mouldy-looking cheese in the canteen had everything to do with animal rights. We needed new ideas. Ideas that nobody had come up with before, and that would be a sure-fire way of raking in the spare change of our classmates.

The problem was we didn't have any.

We'd set up the box as a kind of metaphor for our foolish optimism, figuring that if we stuck a label reading fundraising ideas on the front of it, our classmates might stop and do the hard work for us.

As it turned out, they didn't.

That Friday afternoon, I found Alex in his favourite corner of the common room - the only person still buried in their textbook during the last hour until the weekend. In fact, he was so absorbed in the fascinating illustration of cellular organelles that he didn't even notice me until I'd got right up to the table and dumped the box in front of him.

He looked up, offering me a smile. "Hey."

"We got nothing," I said, not bothering with a greeting. The box flapped open on the table as I pulled up a chair and collapsed into it. "A big fat nothing."

"Nothing at all?"

"Not a sausage." I let out a long sigh, sparing a brief glance for the impeccable colour-coded diagram on Alex's page, copied from the textbook with painstaking detail. I had to wonder - with a slight tinge of envy - where he got his motivation from. "Guess people aren't as willing to give us their good ideas as we thought."

"Well," he said, "maybe it wasn't quite in the spirit of the charity prize, anyway."

"We're still going to get it," I told him adamantly. "This is just a minor setback. We've had our eyes on it from the start of the year. And let's be real, nobody else in sixth form is any competition - it's only the lower school we've got to deal with."

He looked at me, smiling slightly. "You know, we probably shouldn't have written on our university applications that we'd already won it."

"Well, if we had to tell the truth, we would've missed the deadline," I said, waving him off. "It doesn't matter, anyway, because we're still going to win the prize. We just need to put our heads together and come up with an amazing idea."

"You're sure no one submitted anything?" He pulled the box toward him, giving it an empty-sounded shake before delving his hand inside. I watched him scramble for a second, and there was a slight pause before he pulled something out - what looked like a small scrap of paper. "Looks like you missed one."

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