The Boy with the New Trousers
Stephen Buxton 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 Buxton,’ she said. Stephen blushed. She had always
called him Stephen 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 Buxton,’ she said, ‘have you got some new trousers on?’
‘Yes, Miss Pearson,’ Stephen replied.
‘They’re lovely,’ Rachel said. ‘I think they suit you.’
‘Thank you,’ said Stephen. ‘I got them for my birthday.’
‘At the weekend.’
‘I didn’t know.’
Stephen 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 Stephen the envelope.
‘There’s a card come for you,’ she said to him. It was addressed to
‘Mr Stephen Buxton’. ‘Who’s calling you Mr Buxton, I wonder?’
‘Mr Buxton!’ Louise laughed.
Stephen 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,’ Stephen replied.
‘Is that why you had those posh trousers on today? Trying to impress
‘Leave him alone,’ Mrs Buxton said. ‘He looked really nice.’
‘I bet Rachel thought so,’ Louise continued.
‘She did actually,’ said Stephen.
‘You see. Or did she think you looked like an old man? Is that why
she’s calling you Mr Buxton?’
‘Louise, I’ve told you - leave your brother alone,’ said Mrs Buxton.
It was good of her to send you a card,’ she continued, turning to Stephen.
‘Make sure you thank her.’
‘I’ll call her,’ he said.
Stephen kept thinking about Rachel. Was she teasing him, or did she
like him? Certainly the card was a lovely idea.
Rachel, meanwhile, was doing her homework in her bedroom. Her sister
came in with the phone.
‘It’s for you,’ she said.
‘Who is it?’ Rachel asked.
‘This boy - I didn’t ask his name.’
Rachel smiled as she took the phone. She knew it must be Stephen.
‘Good evening, Miss Pearson,’ he greeted her.
‘Good evening – who’s that?’ Rachel said, pretending not to know.
There was a pause – Stephen was wondering what he should say.
‘It’s Mr Buxton,’ he replied.
‘Hello, Mr Buxton,’ said Rachel. He obviously liked being called
‘I was just ringing to say thank you for your card. It was very
thoughtful of you.’
‘It’s a pleasure.’
‘I’m sorry I never told you about it – my birthday, I mean. I never
thought about it.’
‘That’s all right. I’ll remember next year, now I know the date.’
‘When’s your birthday, Miss Pearson?’
‘The tenth of August.’
‘In the summer holidays.’
‘Not long now.’
‘Well, thank you again for the card.’
‘Thank you for ringing, Mr Buxton. I should get back to my
‘I won’t keep you. I’ll see you tomorrow.’
When Stephen had said goodbye and hung up, Rachel went out of her room
to put the phone back. Her sister Elizabeth was standing in the hallway
‘Mr Buxton?’ she said.
‘Were you listening?’ Rachel asked, blushing.
‘Who is he?’
‘A friend, from school.’
‘An older friend?’
‘He’s in my class.’
‘And you call him Mr Buxton?’
Rachel was uneasy. ‘Stephen is his first name. I usually call him
that, but – just today, well. . .’ She couldn’t find the words to express
herself. It was what she wanted Stephen to ask her; she didn’t want to talk
about it with
Elizabeth. ‘He looked so smart; he had a new pair of trousers on, grey
trousers. They made him look so, well – so grown-up, so manly.’
‘Mr Stephen Buxton, the handsome young man in the smart grey trousers.
Not my type.’
‘Is he your boyfriend?’
‘Well no, at least -’
‘You want him to be? You fancy him?’
‘I – oh, I don’t know, just leave me alone.’
Elizabeth laughed as Rachel walked away with the phone. ‘Rachel’s in love,’
Rachel tried to continue with her homework, but she wasn’t focused on
it. She had always liked Stephen, but she had seen him in a new light
today. She had called him Mr Buxton to express her admiration for his smart
appearance, and she had wanted it to be a private thing between them. Now
her sister knew about him and what she called him, and probably his sister
and perhaps his parents had seen the card she had sent. And yet part of her
was unashamed of this. Perhaps tomorrow they would spend more time together
at school – how would they address each other in front of the other pupils?
Now he knew when her birthday was, would he remember? He had asked, so
he obviously planned to.
Later, she and Elizabeth were in the front room.
‘I’m sorry I teased you,’
Elizabeth said. ‘I didn’t mean to upset you.’
‘It’s okay,’ said Rachel, pretending not to care.
‘I suppose I’m jealous, really.’
Elizabeth was two years older than Rachel. ‘So, what’s he like, this
‘Sorry. Mr Buxton. He’s handsome, obviously?’
‘Oh, blond, with blue eyes?’
‘How did you know?’
‘Just guessing.’ There was a pause. ‘Well, like I say, he doesn’t
sound like my type. But if you like him, you should tell him.’
‘I’m worried he’ll think I’m weird now. I think I’ve embarrassed him a
‘Well, he rang you, didn’t he?’
‘Yes, he rang to say thank you. I’d sent him a birthday card. And he
asked me when my birthday was.’
‘That’s good, isn’t it? It must mean he cares.’
‘I hope so.’
‘And does he like being called Mr Buxton?’
‘I think so – I think I took him by surprise. And it never occurred to
me he would call me Miss Pearson. I’m not sure I like that.’
‘Ask him to call you Rachel, then. And ask him what he prefers to be
It seemed like a good plan.
Next morning, it was not such a nice day, and Rachel had her jumper
on. When she caught up with Stephen, he was wearing a navy blazer, which
she thought made him look even smarter than yesterday. She was glad to see
he had his new trousers on again.
‘Good morning, Miss Pearson,’ he said.
‘Good morning, Mr Buxton,’ Rachel replied. ‘Mr Buxton, you can call me
Rachel, you know.’
‘All right. It was only because you called me Mr Buxton yesterday.’
‘I know. Don’t you like being called that?’
‘You shocked me, that’s all. No-one’s ever called me that before. Why
‘You looked so grown up. In your new trousers. You look even nicer
today with your jacket on. I think the name suits you, like your
‘Well, thank you.’
‘Would you rather I called you Stephen?’
‘I don’t mind. Whichever you prefer to call me.’
‘Mr Buxton, then.’ She smiled at him, and he smiled back. They
continued walking to school. Rachel thought he was such a gentleman, for
allowing her to decide.
Rachel and Stephen began to spend more time with each other over the
following weeks. Neither of them had many other friends, so they sat
together in class, and had lunch together. They occasionally wondered what
other people thought, but they didn’t really care. They came round to each
other’s houses to do their homework and talk about things. Stephen was
always dressed smartly – usually he wore a smart checked shirt, tucked in,
and brown corduroy trousers. He didn’t really like wearing jeans or
trainers – at least, not when he was with Rachel. She always looked nice
When they broke up for the summer holidays, Rachel was not as happy as
she normally would be, as she knew she wasn’t going to see Stephen for a
while. He was going away with his family to
France for two weeks. He would be back for her birthday, but would he
remember it? She missed him more than she thought she would, but was
delighted one morning to receive a postcard from him.
Stephen had been missing Rachel too, and said so in his card. He
addressed it to ‘Miss Rachel Pearson’, though he began with, ‘Dear Rachel’
and signed it ‘Stephen Buxton’. He wanted to put ‘Love from’ but decided
against it. Still, Rachel loved it, and said so when she saw him next. It
was the day after he’d got back, and he’d gone round to her house. Her
parents were out at work.
Elizabeth answered the door. Stephen wondered for a minute what to say.
‘I came to see if Rachel was in,’ he said.
Elizabeth smiled. ‘Mr Stephen Buxton, I presume?’ she said.
She led him up the stairs. Rachel was in her room. ‘You have a
Elizabeth said to her sister.
Rachel’s face lit up. ‘Mr Buxton,’ she said. ‘Come in.’
Elizabeth laughed and went downstairs. Rachel left her door open – she
Elizabeth listening outside or telling their mum she’d been shut in her
bedroom with a boy. Then she might not be allowed to see him.
‘Did you have a nice time?’ she asked him.
‘It was okay.’
‘Thank you for your card.’ She picked it up off her desk. ‘You have
beautiful writing, Mr Buxton.’
‘I brought you something back,’ Stephen said, ‘but you’ll have to wait
till your wait till your birthday for it.’
Rachel felt sorry for doubting it. She didn’t care about her birthday
much, so long as she saw Stephen. It fell on a Saturday, and her parents
would want to take her out for the day. She wished she could invite him to
join them, but she didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable. When she heard
they were going out in the evening for dinner, she asked her mum if he could
come. She was pleased that she said yes, but she hoped Stephen would
accept, and that his parents would let him go.
Stephen was grateful to be invited, and his mum and dad gladly
approved. ‘You can wear your suit,’ Mrs Buxton said. His face dropped.
‘Don’t worry about Louise,’ she said. ‘I’ll make sure she behaves.’
He felt really nervous as he was getting ready on the day. This was
the first time he’d worn the complete outfit – a grey blazer to match his
trousers. He wore the white shirt he wore to school, with a deep red
When he got to Rachel’s house, he knocked on the door, hoping she would
answer. He wished it could be just the two of them going out – he wasn’t
sure how he would feel around her family. She did answer.
‘Happy Birthday,’ he said.
‘Thank you, Mr Buxton,’ Rachel replied. He looked better than she had
ever seen him. ‘You look stunning.’
‘And you look very pretty.’ Rachel had a dark blue dress on.
‘This dress was a birthday present. Come in.’
They went through to the front room. ‘Where are your mum and dad?’
‘They’re getting ready.’
‘So, what else did you get for your birthday?’
Rachel held out her wrist, displaying a new silver watch.
‘Wow,’ said Stephen. ‘That’ll match what I got you.’
‘Here,’ he said, handing her a small red box.
She opened it. There was a silver heart ring inside. ‘Mr Buxton, it’s
beautiful,’ she said.
‘I got it in
‘I feel so bad. I only got you a card for your birthday.’
‘Don’t be silly. That was my fault, for not telling you. I got you a
She opened it. He had written ‘Love from Stephen’ this time. Rachel
wanted to kiss him, but she didn’t want to spoil the moment. ‘Thank you so
much,’ she said. Stephen took the ring out of its box. He took hold of her
right hand and placed it on her third finger. It fitted perfectly. She
wore the watch on her right wrist too, and the two things complemented each
Rachel could no longer resist. She kissed Stephen on the cheek. Their
eyes met and she put her arms round his neck and kissed his lips. He held
The door opened and
Elizabeth walked in.’ ‘We’re ready to go – now,’ she said, realising too
late she had disturbed them. ‘Sorry,’ she said, smiling.
They had a delightful evening, but Stephen and Rachel wanted to be
alone together again, so that their moment that had started could be
finished. It had been abruptly cut short, and there were things they wanted
to say to each other. When it was time for him to go, she saw him out.
‘This has been the best birthday I’ve ever had,’ she said. ‘Thank you
‘I’ve enjoyed it too,’ he replied.
‘I love you, Stephen,’ Rachel said, looking serious. She had been
calling him Stephen all evening, as had her parents and Elizabeth.
‘I love you too.’
She smiled again and hugged him.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Peter Donnelly.
Published on e-Stories.org on 01.11.2010.