Authors: Jacqueline Wilson
nine unexpected odd facts
1. Dopey Dan writes good letters.
2. Cigarettes look cool but feel hot.
3. Cheese smells foul but tastes good.
4. Eggs looks sweet when he’s fast asleep.
5. One titchy little chocolate bar contains 350 calories.
6. The hippest deadliest rock stars have the mumsiest of mums.
7. An outfit that looks truly great in the changing room becomes hideous the moment you get it home.
8. Likewise, new shoes that fit perfectly in the shop rub and pinch the moment you step into the street.
9. A boy can be megabrainy but very s-l-o-w to catch on.
f course Dan can come and stay the weekend after next,” says Anna. “Oh, Eggs! Watch your juice. You’re spilling it
“No! You weren’t
” I say. “I don’t
him to come.”
“I thought you just said you did,” says Anna, stripping Eggs stark naked and stuffing his pajamas straight into the washing machine.
“I’m all bare. Look at my willy, Ellie,” says Eggs, practically waving it at me.
“Yuck. Can’t you stuff him in the washing machine too, Anna?” I say.
She’s on her knees, sorting through the dirty clothes basket, juggling little balls of socks.
“You just wish you had a willy too,” says Eggs.
“Attaboy, Eggs,” says Dad, finishing his coffee. “You’ve got these women sussed out. Right, I’m off.”
“Why are you going so early?” says Anna. “Can’t you wait and take Eggs to school?”
“No, there’s someone I’ve got to catch,” says Dad, scooping up Eggs with one arm and giving him a kiss.
“Who?” says Anna, her fists clenching.
“Oh, for God’s sake. Jim Dean, the graphics guy. Anna, don’t start.”
“It’s not me that starts things, it’s you,” says Anna. “OK, OK, you go to work. Just make sure you come home on time. I’m not going to miss my Italian class again.”
“You and that wretched evening class. You go on about it as if it’s the most important thing in your life,” says Dad as Eggs wriggles free.
“What else have I got in my life?” Anna says bitterly. She holds out an armful of smelly socks. “My life is so full and so rich and so exciting. Here I am, sorting your dirty socks. Wow, I can barely contain my excitement. Why can’t you smooth them out straight for a start? Why should I have to unravel them all? Why can’t you put them in the machine? You keep kidding yourself you’re still a young man. So why don’t you act like a
and do your share of the chores?”
“Why can’t you act like the young woman you are instead of a bitter old nag?” says Dad, and he walks out.
Anna bursts into tears as the front door slams.
“Mum?” says Eggs. “Have you hurt yourself?”
Eggs. And put your clothes on,” I say, steering him toward the door.
“Mummy do it,” says Eggs.
“Don’t be such a baby. Mum’s tired. Now off you go. I’ll take you to school.”
“I don’t want
to take me to school. Dad takes me.”
“Listen, Squirt. You wash. You get dressed. You do as I say. And then I
tell you the Egg story on the way to school.”
“Oh, wow. Right. OK,” says Eggs, whizzing off. He pauses at the door. “Mum? Isn’t it getting better?”
“Yes. Mmm. I’m fine now,” says Anna, sniffing. “Go on, go and get washed, lickety split.”
Eggs rushes off, mumbling “Lick and split, lick and split, lick and split.”
“Thanks, Ellie,” says Anna.
“Anna. You and Dad . . . ?”
“Oh. It’s—it’s just a bad patch.”
“Anna . . .” I stand still in the quiet kitchen. “Anna, there isn’t anyone else, is there?”
Anna’s head jerks. “Someone else?” she says. She’s staring at me, her face very white. “Why? What makes you say that? What do you know? Ellie?”
“I don’t know anything. I just wondered . . . Well, Dad can be a right pain at times, and if you’ve met someone else at your Italian class, well, it’s scary because it’s horrid with you and Dad arguing like this, but I do understand. I know I always used to take Dad’s side but now I’m older—well, I wouldn’t
you if you had an affair, Anna.”
Anna is staring as if she can hardly believe what I’m saying. Then she shakes her head, half laughing, though she’s still got tears in her eyes. “
not having an affair, you chump,” she says.
“Then . . . ?” I suddenly
“I don’t know. He says he isn’t. I say he is. Sometimes I think he’s telling the truth and I’m just paranoid. Other times I’m sure he’s lying,” says Anna, hurling the socks into the machine along with all his other stuff.
“Who do you think it is?”
“Some girl in his art class. I don’t know her name but I saw her hanging on his arm in the town. Very young, very pretty, with a lot of blond hair.”
“Well, couldn’t they just have been walking along together?”
“Maybe. But I saw the way he was looking at her. The way he used to look at me.”
“Oh, Anna.” I hover helplessly.
“I’m sorry,” says Anna, shutting the door of the washing machine and getting to her feet. “I shouldn’t have said anything. It’s probably all my imagination anyway. It’s just when I get started I can’t stop. It’s just . . . I love him so.”
That’s the weirdest bit. I think about it as I take Eggs to school. I’m busy making up this daft serial story he likes about the Eggstremely Ovoid Eggles—there’s Mama Eggle, Papa Eggle, Grandma and Grampy Eggle, and hundreds of eggy little Eggles, Edward, Edwina, Edith, Enid, Ethelred, Ethan, Evangeline . . . and they all sleep in an Eggidorm, which has a big bed with oval segments for the Eggles to snuggle in and then when they get up in the morning they wobble to a hole in the floor and whizz down this slide to get their breakfast in the kitchen down below. They only ever eat cornflakes—they hate and detest cooked breakfast. And then there are their cousins the Chockies, who only visit at Easter and they hate hot weather. . . .
I go on and on and it gets sillier and sillier, but Eggs adores it. After a while my mouth takes over and tells the story while my mind thinks about Anna and Dad. How can she still love him like that? I suppose
love him, but he’s my dad. I couldn’t
him as my partner, especially if he started playing around. Anna must have got it wrong. Why on earth would any pretty young student fall for my dad? And yet Anna did exactly that. I can’t understand it. Dad isn’t even good-looking as old guys go. Why don’t they want someone young and gorgeous like . . .
Oh, God, it’s him! My Dan! The dream one, with the blond hair and the brown eyes. I haven’t seen him for ages. I gave up on him and started getting the bus every day. But now he’s walking toward me, getting nearer. I think he’s looking at me, he
! Oh, what shall I do? I look away. Oh, please don’t let me blush. I’m getting hot, he’s getting nearer still—
“Ellie? Ellie, what’s up? Go on with the Eggle story!” Eggs demands, tugging at my arm as if it’s a water pump.
“In a minute,” I mutter.
Eggs demands. “You promised.”
He’s right in front of me. I look up and he’s smiling, he’s really smiling. Then he shakes his head at Eggs. “Little brothers!” he says to me.
I nod, dumbstruck.
“See you,” he says, and he walks on.
“See you,” I whisper, dazed.
“Ellie? Who’s that man?” Eggs demands.
“Shhh!” I hiss. “I don’t know.”
“Why have you gone red?”
“Oh, God, have I?”
“Ever so. Go on with the Eggles story,
I blurt out a few dumb Eggle incidents, inventing a new egg who is made of solid gold, so gleaming yellow that he dazzles everyone.
I deliver Eggs to his primary school and dawdle off in the general direction of my school. I’m going to be late, of course, but I can’t possibly dash. I need to savor this moment. He said “See you.” He really did. I didn’t make him up. He was there, he spoke to me, and he said “See you.” Which means, See you again! Or even, I
to see you again!
Oh, I want to see
again, so much.
All my problems with the insistence of the real Dan seem unimportant. I can’t even worry too much about Dad and Anna now. This is one of the most magical moments of my life. I feel like . . . Juliet.
I wish I dared bunk off school and drift around all day hanging on to this feeling. But I trudge there eventually and get seriously told off for my pains. Nadine is still being all cold and huffy and when we do PE we see another love bite, lower down this time. Magda and I can’t help boggling at it as Nadine hurriedly pulls on her games shirt.
“What are you staring at?” she says.
“Nadine! Isn’t it flipping
?” says Magda. “Can’t you get Liam to eat a decent meal before he goes out with you? He seems to want to slurp great gobbets out of you all the time.”
“Just mind your own business, OK?” says Nadine.
Magda shrugs and saunters out of the changing rooms. I hang back. Nadine knows I’m still here but she bends down, fussing with her shoes. Her hair swings forward and I see the startlingly white scalp at her parting. I remember when we used to play hairdressers and how I loved to brush Nadine’s long soft rustling hair, so different from my own mass of wire wool.
“Naddie-Baddie,” I say softly. I haven’t called her that since we were in the infants.
She looks up and she’s suddenly herself again. “Ellie-Smellie,” she says.
“Oh, Nad. Make friends, eh?”
“I didn’t ever
“Yes, but you’ve been all cold and narky.”
“Well, you started it, gabbing to Magda.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I could have bitten my tongue off for telling her. Look.” I stick my tongue out and mime biting it. I’m a little too enthusiastic with my demonstration and my teeth sink in before I can stop them.
“Oh, Ellie, you are a nutcase.” Nadine gives me a quick hug. “We’re friends, OK?”
“I’m so glad. I can’t stand
being friends with you,” I say, sucking my tongue. “Are you going to be friends with Magda too?”
“Well, only if she stops giving me grief about Liam. She’s just jealous anyway, because he’s so dishy, a hundred times better than that Greg of hers.”
“Cheek!” says Magda, who’s come running back to see what’s happened to me. Then she laughs. “But certainly partly true. Greg isn’t a patch on Liam when it comes to looks. When I first saw your Liam I
dead jealous, I admit it. But now . . . Oh, Nadine, can’t you see, he’s just using you.”
“No, he’s not. He really cares about me. He can barely leave me alone when we’re together,” Nadine says.
“Yes, but that’s just sex, Nadine. That’s all he wants. He doesn’t even take you out properly. Just gets you to go off on all these walks.”
take me out. We’re going to Seventh Heaven on Saturday night,” says Nadine. “He’s got these freebie tickets from a mate.”
“Wow! Seventh Heaven!” I say. It’s the newest and baddest and best club. Everyone’s desperate to go there. None of our lot has made it yet.
“But what about my birthday?” says Magda. “I thought you guys were coming round to my place, right? And we would go out all girls together?”
“Oh, God,” says Nadine. “I forgot, Magda! And these tickets, they’re just for Saturday night. Oh, what am I going to do?”
“It’s OK,” says Magda. “You go. Who’d want to pass up a chance to go to Seventh Heaven? Hey! Ellie, how about if you and me go too? I’ll get my dad to cough up the cash. Don’t worry, Nadine, we won’t cramp your style. We’ll keep well away from you and Dracula.”
“Dracula indeed!” says Nadine, but she laughs.
It’s OK at last. We’re all three friends again. And we’re going to Seventh Heaven!
I wonder if the blond dreamboat Dan ever goes clubbing???
Nadine is telling her parents she’s spending Saturday with Magda. I really
—but of course I’m not telling Dad and Anna we’re planning to go to Seventh Heaven. My dad loves to act laid back but I know he’d never let me go there in a million years because there’s been all this stuff in the local papers for weeks about the fights at four in the morning and girls being rushed to hospital with drug overdoses and all this other seriously heavy stuff. I just tell them Magda’s having this little party and I’ll sleep over at her place and come home sometime on Sunday.
“What are you going to wear to this party?” Dad says. “Not that T-shirty thing again?”
He’s home half an hour
so Anna’s all set for her evening class. Dad’s trying to act as if the row this morning didn’t happen.
“Maybe it’s time you had some new clothes, Ellie. Here.” He hands me twenty quid. Then realizes it’s not enough. He fumbles in his wallet. “I haven’t got enough cash. Look, why don’t you go shopping with Anna, use the credit card?” He looks at Anna. “
of you buy yourself something new, eh?”
Anna looks tense. I’m scared she’s going to start another row, start on about guilt money or something—and then
won’t get my outfit after all. But then she shrugs. “OK. Sure. So, Ellie—we’ll go late-night shopping tomorrow.”
“Can you get home early again and look after Eggs, Dad?” I say. “He’s such a pain to take shopping.”
There. I’ve fixed Dad now. He can’t stay out late and play around. Anna gives me a little nod of acknowledgment.
It turns out that we have fun shopping together. It’s almost as if Anna is Magda or Nadine. We wander round Jigsaw and Warehouse and River Island and Miss Selfridge and Anna tries on all this mad stuff and when I see her slinking round the changing room showing off her navel in this really raunchy gear I just fall about laughing and she gets the giggles too and it’s like we’re two girls together. I dare squeeze into some of the sexier stuff too but it’s a BIG mistake. I am the mistake. I am big. Well.
fat, Ellie. For God’s sake, you’re just perfectly normal size,” Anna insists, although she’s Ms. Stick Insect herself so she’s OK. I’m Ms. Big Bumblebee—with the emphasis on the Bum.
“What am I going to
?” I say, after I’ve tried on 101 outfits and discarded them all. “I want something hip and cool and now—and yet I look positively indecent in all this stuff.”
“You’re just a bit curvy for current fashion,” says Anna. “You don’t want these tacky tops or skimpy little skirts.”
“So what else am I going to wear? A black plastic rubbish bag?”
“We’ll find you the perfect outfit, Ellie, I promise,” says Anna.