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Authors: Alexandra Potter

Be Careful What You Wish For

BOOK: Be Careful What You Wish For
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CONTENTS
 

BE CAREFUL WHAT
YOU WISH FOR

 

Alexandra Potter

www.hodder.co.uk

Copyright © 2006 by Alexandra Potter
First published in Great Britain in 2006 by Hodder and Stoughton
An Hachette Livre UK company
The right of Alexandra Potter to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
Epub ISBN 978 1 84894 164 9
Book ISBN 978 0 340 84112 9
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
An Hachette Livre UK company
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
For Saar
Who proved to me that wishes really can come true
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
 
First of all I’d like to say a big thank you to my editor Sara Kinsella for believing in both me and this book and for all her enthusiasm and hard work, and my agent Stephanie Cabot and everyone at William Morris for their continued support.
This book came about at a huge turning point in my life and I’m lucky to have fantastic friends around the world who helped me along the way – thanks guys I couldn’t have done it without you! I’d especially like to thank Lynnette for all our transatlantic phone calls and happy times at her flat in Fulham; Dana, whose kindness, encouragement and love of trash mags has gone a long way to making Venice feel like home from home; and then of course there’s Barney, my feline friend, who kept me company on those long nights at my laptop (the Fancy Feast are on me).
As always, I’m forever grateful to my parents for all their love and support – they are quite simply the best mum and dad a girl can ask for – and to Kelly, for being a wonderful big sister and looking after me when I first came to LA.
And, finally, to Saar. What can I say without taking up the rest of this page? So I’ll keep it simple and just say thanks luv – for everything and a whole lot more.
There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Oscar Wilde
Chapter One
 
W
hat do you wish for?
World peace?
A cure for Aids?
Gisele’s bottom?
Wincing with pain from my new diamanté thong sandals that have rubbed two blisters the size of jellyfish on my big toes, I press the button for the pedestrian crossing and wait on the kerbside. I mean, whatever it is, we all wish for something, don’t we? Every single one of us. Unwrapping the yoghurt-coated flapjack that’s my breakfast I stare down at my throbbing feet. And I’m no different from anyone else. Except whereas everyone else is busy benefiting mankind, changing the world and looking fabulous in a G-string bikini, I’m standing here looking at my blisters – and do you know what I’m wishing for?
‘Ouch.’
As if on cue, a blister pops and fluid trickles between my toes.
Flip-flops.
It’s near the middle of July and the UK’s in the grip of a heatwave. For most of the sunshine-starved population this means a blissful merry-go-round of sunshine and ice-cream, picnics in the park and deck-chairs in the back garden. For us Londoners it’s hell. The city is sweating like an athlete. Stuffy offices, stinking traffic fumes and tube trains without air-conditioning make life miserable. Tempers are fraying. Noses are peeling.
And my feet are killing me. Cursing silently, I unearth a grotty piece of tissue and squat down on the pavement.
Chic, very chic, I muse, wiping a moustache of melted foundation from my top lip with my finger and stuffing the raggedy tissue between my toes. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother buying
Instyle
every month when I can put together such a stylish look myself.
Feeling a shove in my back I notice the lights have changed and standing up I begin hobbling across the road. Immediately I’m engulfed by a crowd of commuters, yakking on mobiles, smoking cigarettes, slurping lattes. Everyone pushing, rushing, jostling, bumping. A briefcase bashes me in the calf and I yelp. Not for the first time do I find myself wishing I lived by the sea. Instead of in the polluted inner-city hell-hole I’ve called home for the last six years.
Managing to make it to the pavement before the little green man disappears, I limp along Marylebone Road. To tell the truth, sometimes I feel as if I spend my whole life wishing for things. Not great big life-changing wishes – like discovering Brad Pitt’s shooting his latest blockbuster in my neighbourhood and, guess what?, wants me, Heather Hamilton, to be his leading lady.
Yeh, right, I’m not talking about
those
kind of wishes. The close-your-eyes-and-make-a-wish-type wishes that involve throwing coins into fountains, watching for shooting stars or rubbing Aladdin’s lamp. I’m talking about all the ordinary, inadvertent and, quite frankly,
boring
wishes I make a dozen times a day without thinking about them. For me, wishes have nothing to do with magic: they’re just a part of everyday life.
Like I wish I hadn’t just eaten that great big flapjack.
Suddenly aware that I’m holding an empty wrapper, I feel a stab of guilt. OK, so I bought it from a health-food store, and it was on the shelf next to the dried apricots and brown rice, but who am I trying to kid? I mean, I know it’s not really healthy. I squint at the nutritional information. Oh, my God,
healthy
? This stuff should carry a health
warning.
Have you any idea how many grams of fat there are in flapjack?
Scrunching up the wrapper I stuff it hastily into my bag, which as usual is full of all the crap I carry around with me: leaky biros, stray Tampax, a lip gloss that’s lost its top and is covered with bits of fluff. Oh, and a couple of those little tickets from the electronic weighing machines at Boots.
Which reminds me of another one of my wishes. I was only supposed to be buying some Tampax, but when I popped into Boots at lunchtime I couldn’t resist stepping on to the scales and wishing the little digital display was going to say I was a couple of pounds under nine stone – and not, as it turned out, a couple of pounds over.
Well, all right – make that five pounds. But I’m sure my clothes weigh that much anyway.
Sucking in my stomach, I continue hurrying along the main road. In fact, now I’m thinking about it, I make so many wishes I’m not even sure I can remember them all. Take the last twenty-four hours for example. If I had to write them all down I’d end up with a whole wish list . . .
I Wish

   I’d stayed in last night instead of going to a karaoke evening with my best friend Jess.

   I hadn’t started doing tequila slammers.

   the ground had opened up and swallowed me when I’d started yodelling Barbra Streisand’s ‘Woman In Love’. In B flat. With my eyes closed.

   that when I got home at two a.m. I hadn’t texted the-bastard-ex-boyfriend.
I’m mortified at the memory. Sending a text message is one thing. But remembering what I put is quite another.

   I hadn’t squeezed that spot on my chin in the loos at work.
But I did and now it’s brought along a couple of friends for moral support.

   that when I overheard a woman on the tube reading out that article about multiple orgasms in
Cosmo
, I hadn’t snorted, ‘Huh, what are they?’ just as the whole carriage fell silent.

   someone had warned me that on my thirtieth birthday I wouldn’t automatically be given this amazing career along with all the other presents to unwrap. [You mean that’s not how it works?]

   men suffered from PMT.

   there was always an empty seat on the tube. No queue at Starbucks. And a parking space for my car outside my flat.
You know that joke about how women can’t park because men tell them seven inches is this big? (It’s that joke where you have to pinch your fingers together.) Well, last week I told it to the man who lives at number forty-two. Just after I’d tried squeezing my car into that space behind his new BMW. And reversed right into it. Unsurprisingly he didn’t laugh.

   I’d win the lottery.
Admittedly a tricky one, having never actually
bought
a ticket. But that’s one of the things I love about wishes.
They don’t have to be realistic.

   there was no such thing as ‘a bad hair-day’.

   that yesterday when the yoga instructor was helping me do a handstand I hadn’t chosen that exact moment to do a fanny fart.

   I could actually manage to drink eight glasses of water a day.
Eight whole glasses! I mean, it’s just so boring, it doesn’t taste of anything.

   I could meet a man whose hobbies include washing-up, monogamy and foreplay.
BOOK: Be Careful What You Wish For
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