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Authors: Harriet Castor

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BOOK: Dance-off!
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We’d spotted them in other wet breaks
working on an awful picture of Westlife they’d copied out of some soppy magazine. So as soon as they saw me pointing to the bucket, they scrambled across the room like their knickers were on fire.

When they got to me, and saw that I was pointing at nothing but the dirty rainwater collecting in the bottom of the bucket, they snapped, “Oh ha
ha
,” really sarkily, and “Can’t you come up with anything better than that, Rosie
Po
-sie?”

I wasn’t worried at all. I sauntered back to Kenny’s desk, where Kenny winked at me and said, “Nice one.”

“What did you do?” I asked her, but Kenny just grinned.

Frankie and Fliss shrugged at me, and Lyndz shook her head. It was a mystery to all of us. For the next few minutes we tried to look normal, like we were thinking about other things. But all the time we were holding our breaths with nervous excitement and keeping our attention superglued
to the M&Ms. I got eye-ache from squinting sideways at them. The last thing I wanted to do was put them on the alert with outright staring.

“But nothing’s happening,” whispered Fliss after a while.

“Did you do
anything
, McKenzie?” hissed Frankie. By way of reply, Kenny jabbed her in the ribs with her elbow, and nodded over at Emily Berryman.

The Goblin was reaching down into her bag and fiddling with something inside it. She kept glancing up at Mr Pownall, as if to check he wasn’t looking.

The next thing we knew there was a tiny click, and then suddenly – SKWOOSH! Bright pink liquid started spurting from the Goblin’s bag like a freaked-out fountain.

“Eeeeiii! Aaaaah!” the Goblin shrieked. She made a dash for the bin, still holding the mad fountain.

“Never knew the Goblin’s voice went that high!” said Frankie, who was laughing fit to burst, along with the rest of the class.

“What
is
it?” Fliss spluttered.

“Can… of pink soda…” Kenny managed to say, laughing so hard she could barely speak. “I shook it up!”

Emily’s dash for the bin ensured that about six desks and twice as many people got covered in sticky soda. Everyone was squealing – everyone, that is, except for Emma Hughes, who was holding up a sopping wet exercise book. She looked like she was about to cry.

Suddenly we heard a chair scrape back. Mr Pownall stood up, a look of major doom on his face. “Well done, Emily!” he thundered, in a voice that didn’t mean ‘well done’ at all. “What an irresponsible girl you are!”

In a nanosecond, the room went deathly quiet (apart from the odd hiccup from Lyndz). Emily was standing by the bin looking like a damp dishrag.

“Do you know there is a rule against having cans of fizzy drink in the classroom?” said Mr Pownall.

“Yes, Mr Pownall,” said Emily softly.

“And
why
do you suppose that is?”

“To stop…” She winced “…
that
happening.”

“Exactly,” said Mr Pownall. “Which proves just how irresponsible you are. You
knew
the rule and you
deliberately
broke it. Go and fetch a mop and some cloths. And after that you can take yourself to Mrs Poole’s office and explain exactly why I have sent you.”

As Emily slunk off to get the cleaning stuff, I turned to Kenny and gave her my hundred-watt grin. I would’ve given her a high five too, but that would’ve been too obvious. Emma Hughes, dripping with sticky wet soda, was looking daggers at her right that moment. Kenny stared innocently back like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth! The others were desperately trying not to look smug and give the game away. I bet, like me, they were all dying to say “Who’s a drip now?” It was cool.

I noticed that Fliss was looking particularly relieved. She always worries that Kenny on the
warpath is going to mean serious trouble for us. Little did she know that before long she’d be landed with a double helping – no,
quadruple
helping – of spectacular Kenny-trouble. Poor Fliss. If only one of us could have warned her…

Oops! I’m getting ahead of myself. I shouldn’t be talking about Fliss’s disaster yet. I must tell you the story in the right order, or the others will be on my back! So, where was I?

Ah, yes. The week of Kenny’s sleepover. Well, I was looking forward to that sleepover, big time – and I knew I wouldn’t be the only one. But when I met up with the others at school the next morning, Fliss seemed to be in an odd mood. She looked about as happy as a wet weekend.

“Ready for our prancing class, then?” asked Kenny, slapping her on the back.

“Huh? Oh, yeah…” said Fliss uncertainly.

“What’s up, Fliss?” said Lyndz, getting all concerned. “Has something happened at home?”

“No,” said Fliss. “Well – kind of…” She fiddled with one of her plaits. Then she blurted out, “Mum says we’re going skiing in the holidays!”

There was a split second of silence. Then Frankie and Kenny screamed together: “
Skiing
??” And Lyndz said, “But that’s a
brilliant
thing!”

“I know it is,” said Fliss. “And I’ll get a gorgeous tan, Mum says. And we’ll have to go shopping for the special clothes and everything…”

Kenny was rolling her eyes by this point. “What’s eating you, then?”

“Well, being away for the whole of the time we’re off school,” said Fliss. “It’ll be weird, not seeing you lot. And…” She hesitated. “I’ve not skiied before, and I’m kind of nervous.”

“You’re right to be,” said Kenny, nodding, and putting on her really serious BBC2 documentary
voice. “Skiing is very dangerous. If you don’t keep exactly to the right path, you might fall down some hidden ravine. And you’ll lie at the bottom with both your legs broken, and no one will be able to hear your cries for help…”

“Kenny, cut it out!” squeaked Lyndz. Fliss looked terrified. Kenny cracked a grin. She wants to be a doctor and loves scaring us with tales of horrific
ER
-type injuries – the gorier the better.

“I’m so jealous!” said Frankie. “Fliss, it’ll be brilliant! Are you all going? Callum too?”

Fliss nodded. “There are some little kids’ lessons that Callum can go to,” she said.

Just then the bell rang, so there was no more time to discuss the hardships of Fliss’s luxury holiday – or tomorrow’s sleepover, which it struck me we’d hardly planned at all yet.

It turned out that it was going to be our turn for the dance workshop after morning break. When the time came and we’d all got changed, we trooped into the school hall. Some of the class were looking excited, some
(the boys and Kenny, mainly) looked like they were about to go to the dentist’s.

The dancers – a man and a woman – were already there waiting for us. They were both lean and fit-looking, and were standing up really straight, as if they had broom-handles instead of spines. Their smiles were friendly, though. Still, everyone immediately went shy and started shuffling around the edges of the room.

“I thought they’d be a bit more glamorous,” Fliss whispered to me. She had a point. The dancers were dressed in faded, frayed old T-shirts and leggings that my mum would’ve put in the bin if they’d been mine.

“I’d like to welcome our visitors to Cuddington Primary,” Mrs Weaver said, looking a bit flushed. “Children, this is Miss Lorna Baker, and Mr Sean Goldman. I’m sure we’d all like to thank them for giving up their valuable time to be with us.”

The bloke, Sean, was pretty good-looking, with very dark curly hair. “D’you reckon Fliss’ll fall for the tall dark stranger?” Kenny
whispered, nudging me in the ribs. Despite her disappointment about the clothes, Fliss looked bright-eyed and excited.

We tease Fliss quite a lot about boys. She’s definitely soppier than the rest of us, mainly about Ryan Scott, this boy in our class she wants to marry when she’s older. I mean – Ryan Scott? Yeuch! But that’s Fliss for you. I guess she’s into romance and hearts and flowers and all that stuff. The rest of us are more into girl power, thank you very much.

I was convinced that Lorna and Sean were going to have us pointing our toes and skipping about, just like Kenny had said. But what we actually did came as a big surprise.

First off, there were a few warm-up stretches. Nothing fancy, just reaching to the ceiling and touching your toes-type stuff. Then we played a game.

“It’s called the Newspaper Game,” explained Lorna. “First of all you need to find a partner.”

The Sleepover Club dived for one another,
of course. But – major problemo. There are five of us! Because of where we were standing, Kenny and Frankie dived for each other and so did Lyndz and I. That left Fliss, of course, looking a bit miz.

“Grab Ryan!” hissed Kenny teasingly, but Lyndz called out, “Come with us in a three!” and seized Fliss’s wrist and dragged her over to our corner.

The rest of the class had dived for their best mates too. The M&Ms were standing together smugly (wouldn’t you just know it?), and Ryan and Danny, and the other usual pairings, could be spotted all over the room. It turned out that there was an odd number altogether, so there was no one spare for Fliss to partner up with anyway.

“No threes allowed,” said Lorna, shaking her head at us.

A second later, I could hardly believe my eyes. There was Sean, the handsome stranger, striding over to Fliss and saying, “I’ll be your partner.” Fliss blushed right up to the roots of her blonde hair, and looked so pleased you’d
think she’d just been asked out by Zac Efron.

Well, Kenny, Frankie, Lyndz and I were all winking at one another madly, as you can imagine. We were nudging each other about the M&Ms, too, who were looking really jealous. They’re such teachers’ pets! The next minute, though, Lorna started to explain the rules of the game and we all had to concentrate.

The first thing she did was hand every couple a sheet of newspaper. “I’ve brought some music,” she said, brandishing several CDs. “Basically, we’re going to have a disco.”

“Excellent!” said Lyndz, grinning at me.

“But every so often,” Lorna went on, “I’ll turn the music off – just like in Musical Chairs. When the music stops, each couple has to stand on their piece of newspaper. If anyone falls off – if your feet touch the floor – you and your partner are out.”

“Easy!” I said, as Lyndz and I practised standing on the paper together. There was plenty of room.

“Hang on!” laughed Lorna. “There’s a twist. Every time the music starts again, you must fold your paper in half.”

Have you ever played this game? It’s such a scream! As your piece of paper gets smaller and smaller, you reach the point where one person has to give the other a piggyback, just so that you can both be ‘on’ the paper without anyone’s feet touching the floor. But it doesn’t stop there…

Soon Lyndz had me on her back
and
was standing on one foot. All that horse-riding she does must’ve made her legs super-strong. Even so, she was wobbling all over the place because we were both laughing so much.

Loads of people had dropped out already, and now it was the M&Ms’ turn. It was hilarious. Emma Hughes had been doing all the piggyback carrying so far, and while we were dancing, Lyndz and I had heard her complaining that Emily was too heavy. So this time she made Emily carry
her
. Only Emily’s much smaller than Emma, of course, so when the music stopped and
Emma took a flying leap on to Emily’s back, Emily lost her balance straight away.

“Whoooa!” she shrieked, her face turning purple and her mouth blowing out little desperate puffs as she tried to keep upright.

“Stand up properly!” Emma demanded, just as Emily’s legs buckled and she keeled over sideways like those slow-motion films you get of buildings collapsing.

The funniest thing was the way they both sat there arguing about it afterwards.

“You didn’t even try!” the Queen was saying.

“I didn’t stand a chance – you landed on me like a big lump!” the Goblin growled back.

Honestly, Lyndz and I were shaking with laughter so badly that we were desperate for Lorna to get the music back on as fast as possible, or we would be going the same way…

The next time round Kenny and Frankie were out (Kenny had been dancing so enthusiastically, she got her feet in a tangle and couldn’t stay on the bit of paper at all). Then I suddenly realised,
looking around, that there were only three couples left: Lyndz and me, Ryan and Danny, and Fliss and Sean.

BOOK: Dance-off!
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