Tentative (first three chapters)

When fast-talking, witty and beautiful N asks an impossible question before falling asleep on Estrella's shoulder during a Model Government conference, Ella realises two things: one, they look impossibly similar; and two, N is the girl that she would very much like to be. Cue road trip, love triangle, and all the wonderful things that make up teen fiction— but teen fiction with a twist.


3. 3

N yawned behind me at the buffet breakfast the next morning. Almost certain I recognized the yawn, I turned around and noticed that her plate was piled with sweet things: blackberry jam on toast, cakes, croissant with honey. “No protein,” I said, cursing myself for sounding like my mother.

 “My family’s full of diabetics and we never have any sugar in the house. Can you imagine?”

I watched as she loaded her coffee with three packets of sugar and tipped two more onto her toast and jam. “You’re a dentist’s worst nightmare,” I told her, trying not to laugh.

“Actually, my dentist says I’m his favourite patient.” N flashed a flawless white smile to prove her point and gestured at me to sit down at a window table for two. At nine o’clock, the morning was still edged with dark grey, and a layer of fog floated in the valley, only clearing further up the hill. N’s voice was barely more than a whisper and she narrowed her eyes in the light; I was certain that her delegation hadn’t stayed in the hotel like we had.

“Looking forward to today’s sessions?” I asked.

“Not really,” said N, swirling more sugar into her tea. “Almost everyone in my cabinet is awful, and I don’t give a fuck about legislation.”

“That’s sort of what MG is about,” I hinted. “Are you sure you’re in the right place?”

“My dad’s an ambassador and he really wants me to get into this international relations stuff. Besides, I figured there was more of a chance of having an adventure if I got away from home. Not that there aren’t adventures to be had in Paris.” She bit into her croissant, causing powdered sugar to settle lightly on her nose.

Mrs. Patterson strode past and tapped me on the shoulder. “You’ve got three minutes,” she warned.

“Let’s go,” N commanded, swallowing quickly. “I need to get to my cabinet before the Interior Minister does. Sexually repressed tyrant that she is. Does my hair look okay?”

I slipped quietly into my seat in the German cabinet after walking N to her room, trying to remember the names of the ministers from the day before. Even though we came from ten different schools in eight different countries, everyone seemed to conform perfectly to German stereotypes: serious, focused, hard-working, and lacking in a sense of humour. We were tackling immigration legislation, and as Minister of Justice I urged caution when the Foreign Minister tried to put the refugees in what were essentially concentration camps.

“We haven’t got any other viable options,” he said in his Slavic lisp.

“Integration programs? Housing them with families? Not very economically intelligent, but we have to preserve basic human rights.”

“Who’s going to fund these integration programs?” The Harrow boy in charge of finance interrupted. “We don’t want them to integrate; we don’t need more immigrants. They’re lazy and they just leech off welfare. Our aim is to ship them in and out of the country as fast as possible.”

A college student who was representing Amnesty International came in to try and stop the building of the camps, but our Foreign and Finance ministers refused. Minutes later, our chair rapped the table with his gavel, a serious expression on his lovely face.

“Here’s an article from the BBC, guys... ‘New Immigrant Camps in Germany Bombed by Extremists.’ Looks like there are no casualties, but everyone’s outraged.”

We were busy relocating the immigrants for a while, grovelling to Amnesty when she strutted back in to say ‘I told you so’, but soon returned to passing financial resolutions. Propping my chin up and swallowing a yawn, my mind kept drifting away to the cabinet session two doors down, where N and the Interior Minister were probably having a showdown, where things were probably heated and more interesting.

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