Authors: Jacqueline Wilson
Dad always makes a fuss of Magda when she comes round to our house.
“I’ll ask him for you if you like,” says Magda. “OK?”
I don’t really want her to. I don’t know if I really want to go to this party. What will I wear? What will I say? What am I expected to
“What’s up?” says Magda. “He knows you’re going out with Dan so you won’t let any other boy try it on at the party—so he can’t object, can he?”
Oh, help. I’ll have to keep Magda away from Dad at all costs. Dad thinks it hilariously funny that I write so much to the real Dan. He’ll talk about him to Magda and she’ll twig what he’s
“No, leave Dad to me, I’ll handle him,” I say firmly. “OK, I’ll go to the party with you, Magda.”
“You won’t regret it, I promise,” says Magda.
I regret agreeing almost immediately. I tell Dad about the party, practically hoping he’ll say no way. Anna is very doubtful, and asks straight away if the parents are going to be there and what about the drink/drugs situation and suppose there are gatecrashers?
“Look, I don’t want to be rude, but I wasn’t asking you, Anna, I was asking Dad,” I say. Though I’m secretly glad she’s pointed out all these objections.
I hope Dad will take them all on board and agree it’s out of the question.
But he doesn’t. “Come off it, Anna, you’re sounding positively middle-aged,” he says. “This is just some tame little party at a schoolboy’s house. Why shouldn’t Ellie go? And she’ll be fine if Magda’s going too. That kid knows what she’s doing, all right.”
“I don’t give a damn about Magda. It’s Ellie. Does she know what
doing?” says Anna.
“We’ve got to credit her with some sense. You know enough not to do anything stupid, right, Ellie? You go to your party and have fun.”
“I don’t think you’re being a very responsible parent,” says Anna. “But then you’re not famed for your responsibility, are you?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” says Dad.
“I think you know,” says Anna.
“I don’t have a clue,” says Dad.
I don’t have a clue either but I leave them to have a row while I go up to my room. I get out all my clothes and try on every single item. I look a mess in everything. Fat. Babyish. So utterly uncool that I despair.
I’m still despairing on Saturday evening, even though Magda arrives early and gives me advice.
“Dress down. You’ll look as if you’re trying too hard if you dress up. Wear your jeans.
the cruddy ripped ones. The black.”
OK. So that’s my black jeans, even though they’re so tight I shall be cut in two if I sit down.
“You won’t be sitting down, babe. You’ll be dancing,” says Magda. She looks at my boots. “Well, lumbering.” She sees my face. “
I don’t feel like laughing. I feel so fat I select my biggest baggiest T-shirt to wear with the jeans.
“No no no,” says Magda. “Dress down but also dress sexy.”
“But I’m not.”
“You don’t have to
it. Just look it. Something little and tight on top. For God’s sake, Ellie, yours are Wonders
the bra. So if you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
I’ve never felt less like flaunting in my entire life. But I do as I’m told and put on an old purple T-shirt I wore when I was practically a little kid. It strains across my embarrassing chest. I look as if I’m wearing a giant rubber band but Magda insists I look fine. She makes me up with purple shadowed eyes to match the T-shirt and fusses that we haven’t got deep purple nail varnish too.
Dad is giving us a lift to this Adam’s house. (Magda is meeting Greg there.) Dad winks approvingly at Magda, who is looking ultracute in a little black skirt and a black-and-white top so short she shows her tiny waist whenever she moves. Dad stops winking and blinks when he sees me. “Ellie!” he says.
“What?” I say, trying to sound surly and defiant—but my voice cracks.
“Mmm. Well. You look very . . .” He looks over at Anna. “Maybe this party isn’t such a good idea after all,” he says. “I didn’t realize it was going to be so . . . grown up.”
Anna raises her eyebrows. Eggs jumps up onto the armchair. “Look at me! See how tall I am! I’m a grown-up. I want to go to the party.” He jumps up onto the arm and slips.
Anna is kept busy quelling his yells and rubbing his sore bits. Dad sighs and offers us an arm each. “Allow me to escort you, ladies,” he says.
He fusses in the car, grilling Magda about Greg and the other boys. He asks all Anna’s questions about parents and drink and drugs and insists that he will be waiting outside at twelve to take us home.
“Like Cinderella. Only ball gowns aren’t what they used to be,” he says, giving my T-shirt another nervous glance.
He looks a little reassured when we draw up outside Adam’s house, one of those cozy mock-Tudor jobs with a little goldfish pond and a garden gnome in a little red plaster cap and matching bootees. There’s a car parked in the drive.
“Ah. At least his parents
at home,” says Dad.
“Cool subterfuge,” Magda breathes in my ear.
But guess what? It’s not subterfuge at all. Adam’s mum comes to the door, in a pastel sweater and leggings, holding one of those big plastic plates with little sections for nuts and crisps and twiglets. “Ah! You two are . . . ?”
“I’m Magda and she’s Ellie,” says Magda faintly.
“And you’re friends of Adam’s?”
“Well, I’m a friend of Greg. And he’s a friend of Adam,” says Magda. “And Ellie’s
like being Magda’s friend, not after tonight!
This is not a rave-up. This is a terrible embarrassing nonevent. Adam is a boy who looks almost as young as Dan even though he’s in Year Eleven. He’s a little weedy whatsit with an extremely protuberant Adam’s apple (appropriate), which bobs up and down when he talks.
For a long terrible while it’s just Adam and Magda and me in the living room, with Adam’s mum bustling in and out offering us party nibbles and some ghastly punch that’s got about one tot of red wine to every gallon of fruit juice. Damp shreds of maraschino cherry and tinned mandarin orange lodge against my teeth whenever I try to take a drink.
Adam hisses that his parents decided against their weekend break because his dad has a shocking cold. We hear frequent explosive sneezing from upstairs. I don’t think there are going to be any heavy bedroom sessions tonight, somehow.
Greg turns up eventually. Magda gives him a hard time, whispering furiously in his crimson ear.
One more boy arrives half an hour later. He’s clutching a can of lager and boasts that he’s had a few already. He keeps belching. Adam finds this funny and swigs from the can too when his mum is out of the room.
I would sooner go out with Dan than these two.
I would sooner go out with
Why doesn’t anyone else come???
After endless awful ages there’s another knock and it sounds as if there’s a whole crowd of boys outside but when Adam’s mum goes to the door there’s a whole load of spluttering and mumbled excuses and someone says they’ve come to the wrong house and they all charge off.
So we are left. Five of us. We are the party. And I don’t drink and I don’t take drugs and I don’t dance and I don’t go up to a bedroom with a boy. I don’t even
to a boy.
I just sit there at the first and worst party of my life.
1. IDEAL “I WISH” PARTY: just me and Dream Dan . . .
2. MY BEST LITTLE-GIRLY PARTY: when my mum was still alive and she fixed a rainbow party with red strawberries and orange juice and yellow bananas and green jelly and blue-iced birthday cake and indigo blueberry crème brûlée and violet cream chocolates and there were rainbow balloons and she hung crystals up at the windows so there were rainbows all over the room when the sun shone.
3. MY BEST BIG-GIRL PARTY: my twelfth birthday when I had an ice cream party with all different varieties, and ice cream soda and a big ice cream birthday cake.
4. NADINE’S BEST PARTY: when I stayed over on her birthday night when we were little kids and we played Vampire Barbie and smeared red Smartie dye all over our Barbies’ mouths and made them manically attack all baby Natasha’s fluffy toys.
5. MAGDA’S BEST PARTY: when her mum and dad took us al to Planet Hollywood and then to a Brad Pitt movie.
6. FUNNIEST PARTY: Eggs’s christening party, when he wouldn’t stop screaming and Dad said, “Let ME hold him,” and he patted Eggs on the back and Eggs was amazingly, copiously sick all down Dad’s posh suit.
7. WETTEST PARTY: the picnic party in Wales when it drizzled most of the time, and then positively tipped down in stair rods. Dopey Dan looks even less fetching with his anorak hood up!
8. NEXT-TO-WORST PARTY: my birthday party just after Dad and Anna got together and I kept arguing about the games and hated the birthday cake even though Anna had made it in a special blue elephant shape and I started flicking bits of it about and got told off and I complained and then I cried in front of everyone.
9. WORST PARTY: Adam’s party!
I went to a great party on Saturday night. A real rave-up.
I didn’t get home till dawn.
I am a liar. You should see my tongue. We always used to say when we were little that you got black spots on your tongue if you told a lie. Mine is black as coal all over. It was a truly terrible party if you really want to know. So mind-bogglingly awful that I phoned my dad to come and get me early.
I felt so STUPID. There are all these long fussing articles in the papers about the teenagers of today and how they’re all into drink and drugs and snogging everything in sight. Well, I am leading the most dull dreary demure life imaginable. And it’s dead boring.
I feel sort of OUT of things. Like I don’t belong anywhere. Do you ever get that feeling? Of course you don’t. You’re a boy, you obviously don’t know what it’s like. You don’t ever have to worry about how you look and what you wear and whether you’re popular.
I don’t know why I’m writing all this rubbish. It’s just it’s late at night and I can’t sleep and I’m feeling so fed up and there’s no one I can really talk to, so hard luck, Dan, I’m rabbiting on to you. I’ve always had my two best friends, Magda and Nadine, to talk to—but it’s sort of different now. I’m still friends with Magda but she’s such a jokey lively fun sort of girl she doesn’t always understand if I’m feeling depressed. And she’s got this boyfriend Greg who she’s seeing quite a lot of. She’s not THAT keen on him—but he’s OK. They were at this awful party but it was all right for them because they could just sit in a corner by themselves and snog. Magda initiated the embrace. She just pounced and Greg was powerless. But he didn’t seem to mind. Well, he wouldn’t. Magda is a pretty stunning girl.
Usually if I’m feeling low I confide in my other friend Nadine, who is a naturally gloomy sort of girl. Nadine and I have been best friends ever since we were tiny tots. We even used to dress alike and pretend we were twins (which was a little dopey as I’ve always been small and round with frizzy hair and Nadine is tall and thin with dead-straight hair, but we never let that deter us.) But now . . . she’s got this boyfriend Liam and he’s much older and Nadine thinks he’s so cool and yet I think he’s a creep because of the way he treats her, expecting her to do all sorts of stuff—well, YOU know—and Nadine told me all this and I told Magda and Magda told Nadine she was an idiot and Nadine stopped talking to us and she still won’t make it up and I’m dead worried about her. And I’m worried about my dad and my stepmother because right this minute they’re having an argument in their bedroom. I can hear them even though they’re whispering. I don’t know why they’re having all these rows. They used to get on so well together. In fact when Anna first came to live with us I used to hope they WOULD fight, I used to do my best to wind Anna up and kept telling tales on her to Dad. Not because I absolutely hated her. In fact, she’s OK, really. Well, most of the time. But she’s my stepmother and I never wanted any kind of substitute mum, because mine was the best in the world.
I’m not going to write about my mum because it might make me cry. ANYWAY, I’ve sort of got used to Anna now, it’s like we’re friends. Not GREAT friends, just OK, ordinary friends. She’s always been so calm and quiet and happy which is just as well because I can get ever so stroppy and moody sometimes and my little brother Eggs is a right pain most of the time as you know only too well and my dad is the worst of us all for going ballistic but Anna’s always known how to handle him, she’s always calmed him down. It’s always been like he’s this great growly dog and she knows just the way to give him a firm word and then a pat so he drools all over her like a puppy. But she’s lost the trick now. Or maybe she’s got fed up playing that game, I don’t know. She seems to want to be her own person more, especially now Eggs has started school. She’s tried to get back into doing design work, only there aren’t any jobs going at the moment, which is a bit depressing for her, and then she started this evening class and last Tuesday there was a great ding-dong because I was going round to Magda’s and Dad had promised to be home to look after Eggs so Anna could go to the class only something cropped up at my dad’s college and he didn’t get back in time and Anna couldn’t go to her class and when I got back I could see Anna had been crying. I can’t see why going to this evening class should matter so much to her. It’s Italian conversation and we’re never ever going to GO to Italy, just boring old wet Wales. (Do you REALLY like it???) Mind you, I’d give anything to go to Italy because I want to see all the Art, and Magda says the ice creams are megafantastic. And Italian guys are meant to be the sexiest guys in the world. I suppose Anna likes art because she did got to art school but she won’t touch ice creams, she’s far too fussed about keeping her figure. And Anna isn’t into sexy Italian guys because she’s got Dad. Unless . . .
Oh, God, I’ve suddenly thought of something. Maybe Anna’s got another bloke. A sexy Italian. Or is she just using the evening class as an excuse, and she’s off meeting some mystery boyfriend somewhere? I’ve always wondered what on earth she sees in my dad as he’s so much older than her, and she’s pretty stunning to look at, and Dad’s got this potbelly though he sucks in his stomach whenever he looks in the mirror and insists all his flab is solid muscle, and he wears jeans and denim jackets like he’s young only he isn’t, and then there’s his awful beard and his long hair and those terrible sandals he wears in the summer. And it’s not as if he’s got the easiest personality—
I’ll say! Dad just got up to go to the bathroom and he spotted my light on and he said, What on earth are you up to, Ellie? And he’s switched my light off so I expect my writing’s going up and down all over the place and you won’t be able to read a thing but anyway it doesn’t really matter because I don’t think I’ll be sending you this letter anyway as it’s just a load of rambling rubbish and you’ll think I’ve gone completely nuts.
You’re not nuts at all. I’m so glad you sent your letter. It was the best letter I’ve ever had. It was as if I’ve seen through a little window right into your head. I’ve read it over and over. I carry it about with me. Well hidden, naturally.
I was just so amazed and bowled over to realize you can get so bothered and fed up and stuff. Me too, me too, me too! You are entirely WRONG about boys not knowing what it’s like, though. I don’t EVER feel like I belong anywhere. I feel as if I’ve been zapped here from my own special Planet Dan and now I’m plodding around totally alien territory and all the Earthlings are laughing at me. Absolutely wetting themselves. And even more now, because I’m reacting to alien air by erupting into loathsome pimples all over the place, yuck yuck yuck, and even though I anoint my spots with all sorts of junk Mum buys in Boots it doesn’t help much. My entire body seems to be going berserk. I am not going into details but girls have NO IDEA AT ALL how embarrassing it can be. I wish I could hide inside a special spaceman suit with a fishbowl helmet and not have to make contact with anyone else ever. Except you.
You wrote “Love Ellie” for the first time. That’s the best bit of your letter. I’ve read those two tiny words over and over, so many times it’s a wonder the ink hasn’t worn right off the page, such is the ardor of my laser-gaze.
LOTS of love,
I didn’t mean to post that last letter! I just shoved it in an envelope in a tearing rush in the morning and put it in the letter box as I ran for school and THEN I remembered some of the stuff I’d said and I was so embarrassed. I even ran back to the letter box and tried to wriggle my hand through the slot. Then this police panda car slowed down and I thought, Oh, my God, I’m going to get arrested for attempting to steal the Royal Mail. I wriggled my wrist free and sort of grinned sheepishly at these police guys and they just laughed at me.
MOST people laugh at me. I like the idea of wearing a spacesuit. I’d like one too. Only how can one communicate in a fishbowl helmet? You couldn’t go shopping unless you did some serious miming to show you wanted the latest indie album, leaping in the air in manic mode. Come to think of it, you wouldn’t be able to HEAR it. And what about talking to your friends? (Though one of my best friends still isn’t talking to ME.) And school??? Though I’m not a brainbox like you obviously are, so I don’t do much communicating with the teachers at the best of times.
This is the WORST of times. I feel seriously fed up. Oh, God, I’d better stop now or I’ll write ANOTHER long rambly rubbishy letter. I didn’t really put “Love Ellie” last time, did I? I don’t remember. I don’t ever put Love to anyone, not even Luv or Lurve. I just put me.
You did SO put “Love Ellie.” I have your letter here, beneath my heart. Well, that sounds poetic but it’s not anatomically accurate. I don’t have any pockets up at chest level. I’ve got your letter in my trouser pocket. So your words of Love (not Luv, not Lurve, LOVE) are actually rubbing against my thigh, only that sounds embarrassingly intimate and I don’t want this letter to develop into one of those porny pervy jobs some of the guys as my school write to girls. No, their letters are probably not TO girls, they’re just ABOUT girls.
I don’t want to think of you like that, Ellie. Not that you aren’t absolutely wonderfully attractive etc, etc, etc. It was love at first sight like I said. I knew you were the girl for me. I think about you all the time. I’ve never been in love before. I suppose I love my mum and dad (though they do go ON a bit, and act all silent and reproachful if I want to do anything normal like watch RED DWARF or BOTTOM or play computer games or go to a football match—because they just want to read books and listen to classical music and wear Oxfam and recycle everything and lead a life as Green as Grass they think I should too). I love my brothers and sisters a bit too (though like your brother Eggs they are Right Pains—no, Excruciating Agonies, especially when they come barging into my bedroom and read all my private stuff and mock my new hairstyle). I am trying to turn myself into a dead cool guy so you will look at me and decide you’ll follow me, your lord, throughout the world. I haven’t suddenly gone nuts—well, nuttier than I am already—it’s something Juliet says. Are you doing ROMEO AND JULIET too? It’s quite good, though it’s murder doing it at my school because we’re all boys so some poor sap has to be Juliet when we read aloud. I was the original poor sap, actually, and everyone fell about and I could see this was NOT going to improve my street cred among the lads so I had to camp it up and do Juliet in a silly high-pitched girly voice which got me into trouble with the teacher—shame, as he’s quite a decent bloke really and he’s lent me some of his books—but it made everyone think I’m a nut instead of a nerd, only I don’t want to be, and there’s nothing I can do about my weedy physique or lousy complexion and I can’t even earn any hard cash for cool clothes till I’m fourteen BUT I did think a haircut might help. Mum normally just chops bits off here and there. NOT a pretty sight. So I badgered her to let me go to a proper barber and I said I wanted a radical new hairstyle, one that would last. Until I see you: WHEN WILL THAT BE??? You can come and stay for the weekend anytime but our house is ever so crowded with kids’ stuff. All the flannels in our bathroom are currently growing mustard and cress and you can’t eat off the table in the living room because it’s covered with a giant jigsaw puzzle and there are ducks swimming in the bath (generally just the plastic variety but you never know!) and if you sleep in the only spare bed that means my sisters Rhianne and Lara will be in the bunk bed opposite and Rhianne sings all the time, even when she’s asleep, and Lara climbs into bed with you at four in the morning, bringing her entire soft toy menagerie with her. So you would be ever so EVER SO welcome but not extremely comfortable. So how about if I stay with you? I have this cousin who is going out with a girl at London University so he drives down most Friday nights and says he doesn’t mind giving me a lift, which is brilliant. So what about next weekend? Although maybe I ought to wear a space helmet for real. Made of black ambulance glass. Because the new haircut might just be a bit of a mistake. My mum shook her head and sighed deeply when she saw me. My dad got all worried that I’d joined some skinhead gang. My brothers and sisters fell about laughing. Which was NOTHING compared to the reaction of the guys at school. I am certainly well established as a nut now. You will also get a right laugh when you see me, Ellie. So . . . next week, yes? I’ll be arriving between eight and nine, depending on traffic. See you S-O-O-O-O-N!
Lots and lots and lots of love,
No, don’t come next weekend! I’m sorry, but it’s Magda’s birthday, and we’re hanging out there Saturday and then will be going out celebrating somewhere, but it’s girls only, I’m afraid, so I can’t ask you to come. In actual fact I don’t really think it would be a good idea if you came at all because our spare bed situation is pretty chronic too. (Eggs broke the springs on the guest bed so it’s just a camp bed, the sort that suddenly springs shut when you’re inside it), so let’s wait until we meet up again in Wales, right? Do you go there at Christmas? We do, it’s completely crackers, we all have to wear six jumpers and it snows and there’s frost INSIDE the windows, let alone outside, but it’s becoming a loopy family tradition, worst luck. Still, if you’re there too we could play Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing.
I can’t wait till Christmas! I’ll come the next weekend AFTER the next weekend! Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of love,