Jade has a crush on Joe. You can tell because the minute he comes near her, she goes all quiet and wobbly and blushes for all the world to see. Including Joe.
Her torment is unrelenting, because he's often within 10 feet of her. In fact, he's a lot closer than that - they're in the same class. And not only that, but he - like everyone else in Year 8 - knows that she fancies him. How? It might have something to do with Jade's mouthy friends, sworn to secrecy but happy to spill a few beans in the cause of gossip.
Since finding out about this, Joe has begun to take an interest in Jade, too - in his own way. Following the social protocol of his peer group, he's made a point of talking to her friends. This is both to make himself more socially acceptable to her crew and, therefore, to her, and to find out important things about her, like where she hangs out. Through her friends and his, a mass "date" to the cinema will be set up in which they'll all collaborate in getting Jade and Joe to sit next to each other.
Joe's a bit bemused by the whole thing. No girl of his own age has ever expressed any interest in him and he'd never really given girls much thought, either. He's quite young in attitude and in looks. He's always seen Jade as just one of the girls. Kind of cute. Kind of scary.
But Jade tells her friends that she's completely obsessed with him. She dreams about him and when she wakes up in the morning, the first thing that pops into her head is him. One furtive glance at him or the sound of his name his voice in class makes her heart do flip-flops. She writes his name and draws hearts on every conceivable surface at school and at home - even on the Weetabix box, for pity's sake!
Her mum knows that something's up. For weeks Jade has seemed even dreamier than usual, and her normally voracious appetite has been reduced to birdlike pecks. She appears pre-occupied and uninterested in everything. And she spends hours on the phone, behind closed doors. Whenever her mum brings her daughter's clean laundry in to her room, Jade goes silent, warning the friend on the line, "Hang on for a minute, my mum's just come in the room". Chatter resumes only when she hears her mother's retreating footsteps.
At school, too, she's been weird. Normally an active participant in class, she seems variously agitated and dozy. Her form tutor wonders if there's something going on at home.
Neither she nor Jade's mother need worry. Tragic as it is, these pubescent crushes rarely see through a fortnight. Even more tragically, the reason is invariably that the Jades of this world realise that the elfin objects of their desire speak a different language and inhabit a different universe to them.