Authors: Candy Harper
Older titles by Candy Harper
Have A Little Faith
Keep the Faith
First published in Great Britain in 2015 by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd
A CBS COMPANY
Copyright © 2015 Candida Harper
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.
The right of Candida Harper to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents
Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
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London WC1X 8HB
Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
PB ISBN: 978-1-4711-2417-4
EBook ISBN: 978-1-4711-2418-1
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
For my parents, who’ve got five ‘little treasures’ of their own
There’s way too much talking about knickers in my house. I’m pretty sure that other people’s families talk about pizza for tea and what they did at school. In
my family, it seems like someone is talking about knickers every other day.
My biggest sister, Amelia, goes on about how her knickers are too babyish for a nearly-fourteen-year-old. My little sister, Lucy, likes to keep us updated about who in Year Two has wet their
knickers, and my next sister up, Chloe, is always putting knickers on her head. Which I think is a little worrying for a twelve-year-old, but then Chloe will put anything on her head. Except
Today’s knicker chat started when everybody was supposed to be dressed and ready to go.
‘I can’t find any pants!’ Lucy shouted.
Mum came out of the bathroom, brushing her teeth with one hand and putting on mascara with the other. ‘There must be some somewhere,’ she said, spraying toothpaste over Chloe who was
sitting in the middle of the landing, eating a sausage. I don’t know where she found the sausage. I only got cornflakes for breakfast.
Mum climbed over Chloe and went into the bedroom I share with Lucy and Chloe. She reached for the handle on Lucy’s drawer.
‘No!’ Lucy shouted. ‘Don’t go in there! It’s got secret things in!’
‘I’m not trying to uncover your secrets. I just want to find you some knickers.’ Mum swallowed her toothpaste. ‘But Lucy, it had better not be the kind of secret that
starts to smell funny after a few days.’ She turned to me. ‘Ella, you haven’t got any of Lucy’s knickers in your drawer, have you?’
I shook my head. ‘None of Lucy’s and none of mine. Chloe hasn’t got any either.’
Chloe put the last of the sausage in her mouth. ‘Can’t we just wear yesterday’s?’ she asked.
‘No!’ Mum snapped. ‘Honestly, I spend enough of my life doing the washing; how can all of your underwear suddenly disappear?’
‘It goes to the same place that all the hairbrushes, scissors and batteries do in this house,’ Amelia said from her bedroom doorway.
She was looking so smug that I guessed she’d got a nice fresh pair of knickers on underneath her black jeans.
‘Amelia, have you got clean pants? Could you spare a few pairs for your sisters?’
I don’t know why Mum even bothered to ask. I can’t remember the last time Amelia said yes to anything. Amelia looked at Mum with one cross eye. (The other one is hidden under her new
fringe. I haven’t seen it in months. Amelia’s auburn hair is super smooth and shiny so she can make it sweep across one eye. I couldn’t do that. My hair sticks up all over the
place. And it’s more what you would call carroty than auburn.)
‘What happened to the system?’ Mum asked us. ‘I thought we agreed that when clean washing comes in from hanging on the line it goes in the basket under the stairs and then
everyone is responsible for putting their own things away.’
‘The basket isn’t there any more,’ I said.
‘Lucy used it to bobsleigh down the stairs,’ Amelia added.
Lucy stuck her tongue out at Amelia. ‘I only did that after Chloe kept a hedgehog in it! A hedgehog is worse than bobsleighing.’
Mum sighed. ‘Ella, go and look on the sofa. I think there was some clean washing abandoned there. If you’d all just put things away tidily, this wouldn’t happen.’
‘What’s the point of putting things in drawers?’ Chloe asked as I whizzed down the stairs. ‘We’d just have to take them back out again. In fact, I don’t even
know why we bother taking things off in the first place.’
‘So we don’t end up smelling like you,’ Amelia said, screwing up her nose.
On the sofa, I discovered two plates and Lucy’s coat. Under the cushions were five pens, a satsuma (so old it had dried out and become more like a small brown rock), my missing homework
and about a loaf’s worth of crumbs. Finally, jammed between the sofa and the wall, I found a tangle of clean socks like a nest of snakes and five scrunched-up pairs of knickers. ‘Found
some!’ I shouted and carried them back upstairs. There were three pairs of Mum’s, one of mine and one of Chloe’s. I grabbed the ones that belonged to me and threw Chloe’s
pair at her.
‘Don’t need them,’ she said. ‘I improvised and used my bikini bottoms.’ She flashed me her behind; it was covered in shiny red fabric with little anchors on.
Seeing as we were running out of options, I offered Mum’s knickers to Lucy.
‘I can’t wear them! They’re big old lady pants. I’m seven. I need knickers that say seven on them.’
‘At the moment, all the knickers for seven-year-olds seem to be under your bed,’ Mum said, getting up off her hands and knees. ‘We’ll talk about why all the teaspoons are
keeping them company later.’
‘Why don’t you put on your bikini bottoms like Chloe?’ I suggested to Lucy.
‘OK. Are we going swimming?’
‘No, we’re going to the hospital,’ I said.
‘Have they got a swimming pool?’
‘Then I’m not wearing my bikini.’
‘We’re going to miss visiting hours at this rate,’ Mum said and she banged on the bathroom door, which Amelia had just locked behind her.
‘I don’t know why we’re bothering,’ Amelia’s muffled voice said through the door. ‘I’ve got enough crybaby, bare-bum sisters around here. I don’t
need to meet another one.’
Everyone went quiet.
Mum took a deep breath. ‘Lucy, put your pyjama shorts on under your skirt. I’ll buy everyone new knickers when I’m in town tomorrow and these ones had better be looked
Lucy squealed. ‘I want hearts on mine! No, kittens! No, racing cars! Kittens
Amelia opened the bathroom door. ‘I don’t want anything frilly. In fact, don’t buy me anything from the children’s department at all.’
‘Can you get me those ones with the flap at the back?’ Chloe asked. ‘Like in the olden days when they kept their underwear on all winter?’
My sisters all had loads to say about new knickers.
But nobody wanted to talk about my dad’s new baby.
My nana always said that if your basket seems heavy you should remember that’s because it’s full of berries. That was kind of a joke because our surname is
Strawberry. But basically it means try to ignore the bad stuff and look on the bright side. For example, I try to forget about how much people laugh when they see my red hair and hear my name is
Strawberry; instead, I concentrate on being happy that I’m not my Year Six teacher. Her name is Mrs Bottomley.
When my parents first got divorced, everything was difficult. My mum was all quiet and sad, and Amelia was always telling us how horrible things were. I remembered what my nana said about
berries and I tried my best to think about bright sides. It was hard, but it helped a little bit.
But now there is a definite bright side to my dad having a new girlfriend, Suvi, and that is that I’ve got a new sister. The bright side of sisters is that – even though sometimes
they’re annoying and put cream cheese in your bed – they are always your sister and that means they’re always on your team. So it was weird that Dad had this new family, but now
we had another sister and I was glad about that.