Authors: Fiona Cummings
by Fiona Cummings
Brilliant! It’s you! I’ve been looking everywhere for you. How’s it going? Or should I say “Hoots mon! Och aye the noo! And ‘Donald where’s yer troosers’!” Hey, hey, hey – you’re thinking that old Kenny’s finally lost it, aren’t you? Go on admit it! Well you’re wrong, so very wrong. All I’m trying to do is set the scene a bit, you know, get you in the mood for our latest Sleepover adventure.
Whadayamean, it sounds like the weirdest adventure yet if we all end up talking gibberish in a strange accent? That was a
accent, dummy, and I am half-Scottish so I should know what I’m talking about.
I know the others wanted to see you first so they could spill the beans. Frankie
thinks that she should be the storyteller, just because she fancies herself as a bit of an actress. And Fliss, well, I know that she wanted to tell you about it, because she says that only she can begin to describe how scary it really was. (That’s just because she’s a big scaredy-cat herself. You should have seen her this time. Talk about quivering mess!) Rosie was pretty carried away by the adventure too, she was so glad that her mum had let her come. But I guess if anyone other than
was going to tell you the story, it should be Lyndz. You see, it’s kind of because of her that it happened in the first place.
Now I don’t know about you, but I think that autumn half-term is often a major letdown. The weather’s usually wet and windy, so you can’t spend too much time outdoors. The nights are drawing in so your parents start panicking about you being home early. Summer’s so far away you can barely remember it, and Christmas is just a bit of a twinkle in the distance. And basically you’re kind of stuck in the middle.
I can’t ever remember going away during autumn half-term before, but this year Dad asked us one night over dinner:
“How does a week in Scotland grab you?”
“Ooh I know this one, don’t help me!” I piped up. “Is the answer something like ‘under your kilt’?”
Mum, Dad, my oldest sister Emma and my yuckiest sister Molly, all stared at me with open mouths. (Molly’s was still full of mashed potato so it wasn’t a pretty sight!)
“No Kenny,” said Dad at last. “This isn’t a joke. We’ve decided that this year we’re going to spend a few days with Great Uncle Bob.”
I could tell by Mum’s face that it was more a case of
deciding that we were going, there was no
We’d often talked about going to stay with Great Uncle Bob in the past, but Mum had always come up with a million and one reasons why we couldn’t. Whenever I asked her what Great Uncle Bob was like, she thought for about half an hour, her face becoming more and more agitated, before finally saying something like, “He’s very eccentric,” through gritted teeth.
“It’ll be great fun!” Dad reassured us, trying his best to ignore Mum’s black looks. “We’ll be there for Bob’s annual party. It’s a real treat by all accounts.”
“Is it his birthday or something?” Molly asked, all shiny-eyed with enthusiasm (puke!).
“No, it’s a tradition he started some years ago,” Dad explained. “On the last Saturday in October, he invites everyone from the next village to join him for a massive shindig before winter sets in.”
“Cool!” Molly gushed.
My sister’s enthusiasm just about made me want to throw up. It’s not that I’m a misery guts or anything. In fact there’s usually no one who enjoys a good party more than me. It’s just that I was kind of worried about someone and I knew that it wouldn’t exactly be fiesta-time in their household over half-term.
You’re not going to believe it when I tell you that the person I was worried about was Lyndz. Yes Lyndz, our Lyndz, Sleepover Lyndz! I knew you’d be shocked. She’s just about the happiest person around, isn’t she? Normally. But things weren’t normal at Lyndz’s place any more. You see, her mum was being a bit – well, weird, basically.
Now you know Lyndz’s mum, don’t you? Isn’t she just about the most laid-back person on the planet? I mean, my mum has always said she doesn’t know how Mrs Collins copes with bringing up
children. (Yep, Lyndz has
brothers, two older than she is and two younger.)
Not only that, but Mrs Collins also works, running a class teaching women how to have babies. She helps out at the local playgroup too. Lyndz’s house is always in a mess – part of it is either being pulled down or built up. Mrs Collins just takes it all in her stride and bakes cakes and stuff even though the roof’s falling down around her ears. And when we have sleepovers at Lyndz’s, she’s really cool because she says she loves having girls around the place.
“You make a nice change from those great smelly sons of mine!” she smiles. And she doesn’t bat an eyelid when we get up to some of our silly stunts.
Well that’s what Mrs Collins
to be like. For the last few weeks she’s been really different. She looks kind of grey and tired all the time, she hardly ever laughs and she just seems kind of fed up with everything.
“What’s up with your mum?” we asked Lyndz the last time we were over there for a sleepover. “She seems a bit down today.”
“Today!” Lyndz snorted. “She’s down
day. I can’t remember her ever being up!”
The rest of us looked at each other and pulled worried faces.
“But your mum always used to be so bubbly,” Frankie reminded her. “Maybe something’s happened to upset her.”
“Well, I think she’s kind of upset that we’re not going to our grandparents in Holland at half-term,” Lyndz confided. “She’d really been looking forward to it, then we had to cancel it. I think it was probably because it was going to cost too much money. I heard her and Dad arguing about it.”
“Oh dear!” we all clucked sympathetically.
“But I can’t believe she’s still upset about that,” Lyndz mumbled. “She’s known for weeks that we couldn’t go.”
“Maybe she’s really ill,” Fliss suggested. “She doesn’t look too great, does she?”
“Fliss!” we yelled together, piling on top of her to shut her up.
“Gerroff!” Fliss spluttered. “I was only saying…”
“Well, don’t!” Rosie giggled, twanging one of the scrunchies in Fliss’s hair and mussing up her beautiful blonde plaits.
“You’re going to pay for that!” shrieked Fliss and chased us out of Lyndz’s room, down the stairs and through the lounge.
“Chase, chase, chase!” yelled Ben, Lyndz’s four-year-old brother, tagging along behind us.
We ran out into the hall – but didn’t realise until it was too late that a load of plywood had been stacked against one wall. It was dark so we couldn’t see too well, and the first thing we knew about it was when we tripped over it. It came shooting down all over us and all over the floor. It made such a loud CRACK that Ben started to howl from shock.
“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?” a voice boomed from behind us. “Lyndsey Collins, I thought you had more sense, I really did.”
Lyndz’s mum appeared with a face as black as thunder. She scooped Ben into her arms and just stood there ranting at us with her hair all over the place.
“I have enough to deal with without extra chaos brought about by you lot. Now you know the rules, Lyndz – stay in your room and don’t go chasing about all over the house. Mind you, if your father ever finishes sorting out this hallway it will be a miracle. All my married life I’ve lived in a mess, and I’m just about sick of it. Now go upstairs and play quietly. I’ll call you when supper’s ready!”
She stalked back into the kitchen and we slunk up to Lyndz’s room.
Nobody said a word until we were safely upstairs. Then we all sank down on Lyndz’s bed.
“Crikey Lyndz, I see what you mean!” Frankie gasped.
“Yeah, I mean that sounded more like Fliss’s mum than yours!” I agreed. “Has she been taking lessons from her?”
Fliss looked as though she was about to have a go at me. Then she noticed the big fat tears trickling down Lyndz’s cheeks.
“Never mind,” she soothed, putting an arm around Lyndz’s shoulders. “Your mum’s probably just having a bit of a bad time at the moment. You know, sometimes stuff seems to get on top of mothers, doesn’t it? It’ll pass, I’m sure.”
We all nodded, although you could tell that really we weren’t sure at all.
“Well I hope it’s passed before half-term,” Lyndz sniffed. “Because it’s not going to be a barrel of laughs with Mum like this, is it?”
We all had to agree with that.
And I just couldn’t get that thought out of my head as Dad was telling us about Great Uncle Bob’s marvellous party. I just wished there was some way that I could cheer up Lyndz. And her mum.