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Authors: Jacqueline Wilson

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BOOK: The Suitcase Kid
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So that's how it was decided. Radish lives with me, in my pocket, as she's always done. She's the luckiest one. And I get to live in my mum's house one week and my dad's house the next. It's as easy as A B C. I don't think.

Andrea West but I mostly get called Andy. My sly little stepsister Katie calls me Andy Pandy. Everyone just thinks she's being cute. Katie specializes in cute. We are exactly the same age – in actual fact she's five days older than me – and yet she barely comes up to my waist. I happen to be big. Katie is extremely small. People don't twig she's ten. They think she's only about seven or eight,
and she plays up to this for all she's worth. She blinks her blue beady eyes and wrinkles her small pink nose and puts on this squeaky little sugar-mouse voice. People go all drooly and practically nibble her ears. Katie is not a sugar mouse. Katie is a King-Size Rat.

She's very spoilt. She's got her very own television set and video in her bedroom. When it's my week to sleep at my mum's place I have to share with Katie. She always insists that she gets to choose what's on television, and she always gets first pick of the videos. She's got heaps. She's got some pretty impressive creepy gory horror films that her dad knows nothing about. She hides them inside her Care Bears cases. She's also got the usual Walt Disney stuff. And then she's got this
video. Have you seen it? It's a bit dopey really, with little kids programmes that my mum and dad used to watch on telly donkey's years ago. Including a little clown puppet called Andy Pandy. We watched it together, and that's when Katie started calling me Andy Pandy.

I couldn't stick it and I told her to shut up and she wouldn't. So I had to make her. My mum saw us thumping each other and she was
furious. She didn't say a word to Katie. She just picked on me.

‘How dare you hit Katie! I can't believe you could be so mean. You're twice poor Katie's size. I simply won't have this hateful bullying. You make me desperately ashamed of you. Katie's gone out of her way to welcome you into her home and then you behave like this!'

I wanted to hit my mum then as well as Katie.

‘It's not fair. You don't know what she's like,' I wailed, only I just sounded like a tell-tale-tit.

I stalked off and shut myself in the bathroom, Radish clutched tight in my hand. We stayed in the bathroom for ages and even when we came out we didn't speak to anyone all the rest of the day. Mum tried to make it up with me when we went to bed, but I still wasn't saying anything, not with Katie grinning away in the dark.

It wasn't until days afterwards that Mum and I were on our own for once. Uncle Bill was working late. Only he's not my uncle. He's my horrible stepfather and I simply can't stick him. I can't understand what my mum sees in him. I take a good look and all I can see is this great hairy baboon. He's got all this thick black hair like a baboon. He's got a squashed-up
ugly face like a baboon. I've never caught a glimpse but I bet his bum's bright red like a baboon's too.

Paula was round at her friend's house. Graham was shut up in his bedroom playing computer games. And Katie was out at her ballet class.

‘So it's just you and me, pal,' said Mum. ‘What shall we do, eh?'

I shrugged and made out I was busy watching the telly. I was still feeling a bit miffed. But Mum came and sat beside me on the sofa and put her arm around me. I made myself go stiff at first but Mum went on cuddling and soon I sort of collapsed against her. I ended up on her lap. My mum's quite little and I'm big and I probably squashed her but she didn't seem to mind.

‘Cheer up,' said Mum, fiddling about with my hair, doing it in little tiny plaits.

I'm growing my hair but it's taking forever. It hasn't even got near my shoulders yet. Katie has got long hair right down her back and it's a glossy bright black.

‘It's a very unusual combination,' she told me smugly. ‘Blue eyes and black hair. I take after my mother.'

Her voice always goes all sad and holy when she talks about her mother. It's as if she died only last week and so you've got to be sorry for her. In actual fact Katie's mother died when she was little and so she probably can't remember her properly. Maybe she wouldn't even know her mum had blue eyes and black hair without the colour photo in the silver frame on the window-sill.

My eyes are muddy brown. So is my hair. It's a bit depressing.

‘I don't feel like cheering up,' I said grumpily, though I didn't budge off Mum's lap.

‘What was all the hoo-ha with Katie the other day?' said Mum.

‘She called me names.'


‘Andy Pandy.'

Mum burst out laughing. ‘That's not too dreadful!'

‘Yes it is,' I said, and I shifted sideways, back on to the sofa.

‘Andy Pandy. That's just a friendly nickname.'

‘It's after that television programme.'

‘Yes, I know. Well, Andy Pandy's OK. He's the hero. I suppose he's a bit wet. Anyway,
not wet. Why don't you call Katie Looby
Lou and tease her a bit? But don't fight with her, I won't have that.'

‘You don't understand.'

‘Oh, mums never understand,' said my mum, ruffling my hair. ‘Let's watch
, eh?'

She turned the television up. I didn't bother explaining about Andy Pandy. He plays all these daft little games with Teddy and Looby Lou and then the lady with the silly voice says something.

‘Time to go home.'

And Andy has to get in his basket while she sings the Time to Go Home song. Katie calls me Andy Pandy and she sings Time to Go Home in this sweet little voice but it's as if she's spitting at me. Because she knows I haven't got a home any more.

in together when I'm at Albert Road. That's my un-Uncle Bill's house. I'm never going to call him Uncle. I don't even call him just plain Bill. Though he
plain. I don't call him anything at all. I don't even speak to him if I can help it.

I can't stand the way Mum talks to him. She snuggles up to him and hangs on his every word and roars with laughter at his stupid
jokes. She doesn't even get cross if he goes out drinking with his mates after work. That's really stupid, because she used to nag my dad like mad if he came home late. Though that was probably when he was seeing that dopey Carrie . . .

My un-Uncle Bill is a painter and decorator though you'd never think it if you saw his house. (That's how he and my mum met. When he came to paint our hall and stairs at Mulberry Cottage, because it was too high for Mum to reach. Bill the Baboon had a special set of planks. I'd like to make him walk his rotten plank. Right to the edge and over.) His own house in Albert Road is dead scruffy, nowhere
as nice as Mulberry Cottage, so I can't see why my mum makes out she likes it here. She's starting to do the decorating herself, changing it all around. Making it her place.

There's nowhere that's
place though. The others are always barging about the kitchen and the living-room. My mum shares a bedroom with old Billy Baboon, so I'm certainly never going in there.

He's got three children: Paula, Graham and little ratbag Katie. I don't like any of them, but I suppose Paula's the best. She's fourteen and
she doesn't think much of my mum and they keep having rows. I encourage this like mad, because then my mum might get fed up and want to leave. And then all I've got to do is get my dad to leave Carrie and we could all be a family again. We might even be able to buy back Mulberry Cottage and start all over again, living happily ever after.

Paula has her own bedroom and she's got pop posters all round the room and she plays her stereo system so loud that the whole house shakes. She's got special earphones but she deliberately doesn't use them.
the ones that need earphones.

It's funny, Paula's so noisy, yet Graham is the most silent boy you could ever imagine. He's twelve, yet I'm much taller than him. If we had a fight I know I'd win, easy-peasy. But he's not the fighting sort. He's pale and twitchy with glasses and he just likes to shut himself up in his box-room and plug into his computer. I think he'll turn into a robot one day. He moves in this jerky sort of way, and the rare times he does speak his voice is flat like a machine.

Katie's got the biggest bedroom so she has to share it with me. It's not
fault. I don't want to share with her. I can't stick it. I can't
ever dress up or practise pulling silly faces or play a good game with Radish because Katie's always there. I can't even get lost in a good book because Katie turns her television right up or sings some silly song right in my ear to distract me.

So do you know where I go when I need a bit of peace and quiet? I lock myself in the bathroom.

There aren't any really good places to sit. The toilet gets a bit hard after a while. The edge of the bath is too cold. I wouldn't dream of sitting
the bath. I always just wash in the basin. The baboon has a bath every day and he leaves dark wisps of hair all over the place, and little crumbs of plaster and flakes of paint.

I collected some of his foul scummy hairs in a matchbox, together with a nail clipping and a shred of one of his dirty tissues. Then I concocted an evil spell and threw the box out of the window. I waited hopefully all the next day for the news that he'd fallen off his ladder. But he didn't. Magic doesn't work. I should know that by now. I wished enough times that Mum and Dad and I could be together again in Mulberry Cottage and it hasn't happened yet.

Even when I'm locked in the bathroom I can't always concentrate on my book. I used to read heaps and heaps and I got through every single story in the Book Box at school, and I went to the library too and I had my own collection of paperbacks, nearly fifty of them, some of them really big hard nearly grown-up books. But now my own books are shoved in a cardboard box somewhere and I can't get at them, and all the books from school and the library suddenly seem boring. I can't get into the stories. I just keep thinking about Mum and Dad and Mulberry Cottage.

So now I choose really babyish books to read, stuff I read years ago, when I was six or seven or eight. I can remember reading the stories the first time round and sometimes I can kid myself I'm little again, and everything's all right.

Sometimes it doesn't work, even in the bathroom by myself. So then I generally play a game with Radish.

She loves the bathroom. It's her favourite best ever place. Don't forget she's only four centimetres tall. The basin and the bath are her very own Leisure Pool. I generally fix up a Superslide by knotting Paula's tights together and hanging them from the door hook to the
bath tap. Radish hasn't got a very slippery bottom so I soap her a lot to make her slide satisfactorily. This means Paula's tights get a bit soapy too but that can't be helped.

Radish certainly doesn't fancy a swim in the baboon's hairy lair but she likes a quick dip in the basin, and she's getting very good at dives off the window-sill down into the water. Sometimes she turns somersaults as she goes.

When she starts to get a bit shivery I dry her in the towel, and then she warms up using the sponge as her own Bouncy Castle. When she's tired of this she generally begs me to make her a snowman. I know this will get us into trouble but I don't care. I take the baboon's shaving foam and we make all the snowdrifts and then we start sculpting them into snow people. Last time I got a bit carried away. I made a snow girl and a snow rabbit and then I made a snow cottage. All right, it looked more like a big blob than a cottage, but the snow girl and the snow rabbit liked it a lot. I tried to do a tree too but the shaving foam went
and I realized I'd used it all up. Nearly a whole can.

BOOK: The Suitcase Kid
6.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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