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Fighting evil with evil. That was my number one priority at the end of the vacation. A warrior never lets a defeat remain unavenged! Especially if it’s his first battle. 
All through the previous year, I had copied the attitude of the cool guys in the older classes in the hope that Sophie would notice me.
It had taken some time, but in the end it had worked. One day, at the end of the year, she had finally agreed to go to the cinema with me. Throughout the bus ride, I had been hypnotised by her heavily made-up lips. It was the first time I had seen a girl of my age wearing lipstick. She had something of a grown woman about her. That must mean that I was becoming a real man.
When I took her home, I wanted to kiss her.
“No,” she said, pushing me away, “you’ll spoil my lipstick.”
Why had she put lipstick on if it wasn’t to make me kiss her? 
She went into her house. The school year came to an end. And I wondered about it all through the vacation.

Fighting evil with evil.

The very first day of the new school year, I decided it would be Clem. She was not a new girl in the class, but during the summer she had stopped being a little girl. I think I was the only boy who had noticed. I would have to make my move quickly if I was to keep my head straight.
Seeing the way she encouraged me to meet up outside of school, it was obvious that she too had made some decisions over the summer.
I won’t lie. I felt a real pang of heartache when I went to fetch her one Saturday to take her to the cinema and saw that she had put lipstick on. I tried not to think about it, but I missed a good half of the film, it was bothering me so much.
Outside her house, we stood looking at each other for at least a minute, not saying anything, smiling at each other. Her little white teeth. Her red lips. When I tried to kiss her, she put her hand on my chest, stopping me in my tracks. I think I could have cried, or died, or done something similarly irrevocable. Then she took a paper handkerchief out of her bag and carefully wiped her lips.
“That’s better,” she said to me, “I wouldn’t have wanted to get that all over your mouth!”

Translated by Wendy Cross

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18

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