Authors: Jacqueline Wilson
‘Well then, I shall summon up all my powers and enchant old King Carl pronto to Sangria. I’ll slip sleeping powder in his sangria and lie him down on my big velvet sofa and then I’ll cuddle up beside him, and when he wakens in the morning the first person he’ll see is me, and there we go, he’ll be mine.’
,’ I said, elbowing her.
‘Ouch! You’ve got such bony little elbows. That
! It’s OK, the charm only works when he’s in Sangria. You can have him all to yourself in Glassworld. He’ll just have an occasional holiday with me – now how fair is that? Hey, if I’m such a beautiful enchantress, how come I can’t magic up a bog-standard chip shop, for heaven’s sake. You’d think there’d be
in this manky parade of shops.’
‘I thought you’d been to this chip shop before?’
‘No, no, I’ve always been a good girl and stayed at school. It’s just your bad influence. You’re leading me astray!’
I nudged her again and she nudged me back. We staggered up the street, poking each other and giggling as a bus went past.
‘Hey, look, it’s going into town. Let’s hop on it,’ said Miranda.
‘But we’ve got to be back by two!’
‘We will. We’ll just nip into McDonald’s, OK? Come
She caught hold of my hand and pulled me. I struggled for a few seconds, but then I let her tug me to the bus stop and haul me onto the bus.
‘THERE!’ MIRANDA SAID
, laughing and panting as we flopped onto the front seat.
‘I can’t believe we’re doing this,’ I said. ‘We’ll be in
much trouble if someone sees us and reports us to the school.’
‘Yeah, like, we’re being totally wicked, nipping into town for a spot of lunch like thousands of other people,’ said Miranda. ‘That’s what I hate about schools. They act like it’s a total criminal offence and moral outrage if you’re not wearing your school
, for God’s sake. It’s all so trivial and stupid. And we’ve got years and years to go. I can’t
till I can just say stuff it.’
‘What do you want to do when you leave? University?’
Miranda shrugged. ‘I’d sooner art school.’
‘Carl wants to go to art school too but he’s so
brainy his parents want him to try for Oxford or Cambridge.’
‘And is he going along with their plans?’
‘I don’t know,’ I sighed. ‘I don’t know what Carl really thinks any more. It’s so hard now he’s at Kingsmere Grammar. He’s sort of clammed up.’
‘I thought you two had this totally magical relationship – true minds, imaginary worlds, big literary partnership, the whole caboodle.’
‘Yes. Sort of. But when we were little we were so close we were like CarlandSylvie, one person. Even our families called us that. Now he’s Carl and I’m Sylvie and I’m scared we’re kind of losing it. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. I know you want Carl for yourself.’
‘Maybe I want him because he’s yours and not mine,’ said Miranda. ‘And if it’s any consolation he doesn’t seem remotely interested in me. Hey, maybe we’re wasting our time sighing over him, Sylvie. I bet he’s not agonizing over us right this minute.’
We got off the bus at the town centre. Miranda pulled me towards the big shopping centre.
‘They’ve got a McDonald’s downstairs. Or we could go to the food court. Do you fancy Thai food? Or a proper pizza, not like school muck?’
I fingered the five coins in my purse. ‘I’ve only got enough for chips,’ I said apologetically.
‘Hey, it’s my treat, naturally.’
‘No. Why should you pay for me?’
‘Because I’m the spoiled little rich girl. I always pay. It’s why people put up with me,’ said Miranda.
I looked at her. ‘I never know when you’re joking and when you’re not.’
‘Neither do I.’
‘Well, I put up with you because I like you – and I want to pay for my own meal, OK?’
‘OK! McDonald’s then.’
It was crowded with mums and toddlers and clusters of teenagers. There were several boys in distinctive purple blazers.
‘Look! Aren’t they Kingsmere boys? Do you think Carl ever comes here?’
‘He’s never said. I wouldn’t think so.’
. Suggest it, Sylvie! Then we could all meet up for lunch. It would be so cool. We could play Glassworld and Sangria together.’
‘You mustn’t tell him! Promise you won’t. He’ll be so mad at me,’ I said as we collected our chips and went to sit down.
‘You’re not scared of him, are you?’
‘No. I just don’t want to upset him.’
‘You are so sweet with him. Don’t you believe in playing hard to get sometimes? Why don’t you try acting up and being difficult? Maybe making out you’re keen on someone else?’
‘There wouldn’t be any point. Carl knows me too well. I’m not the slightest bit interested in anyone else.’
‘Oh, yawn! You’re a hopeless case. Stuff your
chips in your gob before you come out with more sickening stuff. OK, it’s obvious I can’t try to get Carl off you. We’ll have to get him to find a special pal for me. What about this footballer friend Raj mentioned? Have you met him?’
‘No. I don’t think he can be a
friend. Carl hates football.’
‘Yes, but maybe he likes
‘He’s never really mentioned him.’
mention him. See if we can get together. You could come to my place. No silly kissing games, I promise. Well, unless we start serious snogging. You and Carl, me and football guy. I hope he’s more David Beckham than Wayne Rooney in looks. Carl might come again even if it’s just to admire my stained glass. Or we could go to your place if it would make him more comfortable.’
comfortable. Not any more.’ I bit the end off a chip and then started arranging the others according to size.
Miranda waited, unusually tactful.
‘My dad cleared off two years ago. He doesn’t even bother to come to see me now, not that I care. He doesn’t always send Mum money for me. She works, but we have to have lodgers too, to pay the mortgage. I had to move out of my proper bedroom. I just have this little cupboard room now. It’s not big enough to have friends round.’
‘I’m quite a small friend. Well, I’m ginormous compared to you, but everyone is. I can scrunch
up small in your cupboard. And the two boys can lie on your bed – or even under it.’
Miranda used her own meal to demonstrate, turning her carton into a tiny room, her paper napkin into a bed, and then putting two chips on top and two underneath. Then she made one of the top chips lean over and kiss one of the bottom chips.
‘Idiot. Have you got a watch on? What do you think the time is?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe half one? Let’s just go and have a peer round TopShop, it’s up on the first floor,’ said Miranda, stuffing all four chips into her mouth and chomping enthusiastically.
‘We’ll be late back for school.’
. God, you’re such a worry-guts. Just the quickest of quick
I let her drag me out of McDonald’s and up the escalator to TopShop. Inevitably, it wasn’t a quick peep at all. Miranda spotted a black lace vest top she said she’d been looking for all her life.
‘I’ve got enough cash on me. Heaps.’
‘So buy it then. But do
‘I’ll have to try it on. Maybe it won’t stretch over my great big boobs.’
‘I’m not, I’m not, I’m complaining like crazy – they get in the way so.’
‘Well, lend them to me. I’m sick of being totally flat-chested. I look like a little
, for God’s sake.’
I wondered if that was why Carl didn’t want
to kiss me. Maybe I simply didn’t look grown up and girly enough.
I looked at the black silky vest with its slinky straps and pink lace edging. ‘What do you think it would look like on me?’ I asked wistfully.
‘It would look great. You try one on too, come on.’
So I picked up one of the vests and we went to the changing rooms together. Miranda pulled her school sweater and blouse off unselfconsciously. We were supposed to wear plain white underwear to school but she was wearing an amazing tangerine bra embroidered with little turquoise flowers.
‘Wow,’ I said. ‘It’s a good job you haven’t got PE today.’
I turned away to shrug myself out of my own top. I was horribly embarrassed by my sad little girl’s bra like a white bandage. I put the black vest on quickly. I peered hopefully into the mirror, expecting some kind of magical transformation. My reflection peered back. The vest just looked like a
, the sort of garment you wore for warmth. The straps slid uselessly off my narrow shoulders, exposing the straps of my bra. The material drooped about me unattractively.
I looked at Miranda. The vest was transformed. It clung to her like a corset, the straps taut against her smooth white skin, the black lace stretched to the limit over her cleavage. The tangerine of her bra straps contrasted
exotically. She looked incredible.
‘It’s not fair,’ I said, tugging my vest off and hurriedly pulling on my school shirt.
‘Hey, hang on, I didn’t have a proper look.’
‘You wouldn’t want to. It looked
‘I’m sure it didn’t. Don’t be like that. Maybe you need a smaller size.’
in smaller sizes. None of the clothes in normal shops look right on me. I’m going to have to shop in bloody Mothercare.’
‘Oh, Sylvie, you are funny.’ Miranda gave me a sudden hug to cheer me up.
An assistant twitched the curtain to check on the cubicle and looked startled to see two girls embracing in their underwear.
‘You’re not meant to be in there together,’ she said hastily, her cheeks pink. ‘Come on, get dressed. I want you out of here.’ She flounced off, rattling the rings of our cubicle curtain.
‘Oh my God, she thinks we’re getting it on together!’ said Miranda, whooping with laughter.
‘Oh, Miranda!’ I said, going bright red. ‘Quick, put your blouse on. Let’s go!’
Miranda’s laughter was terribly infectious. I started giggling too, and then I couldn’t stop, even though I covered my mouth and bit my lips.
We staggered out of the changing room, snorting and squealing. I felt every sales girl was staring at us disapprovingly. I was ready to run right out of the shop, but Miranda made me wait.
‘I want to buy the top, silly.’
‘You can’t buy it now!’
‘Why not? It looks good on me, doesn’t it?’
‘But they’re all looking at us, thinking we’re … you know.’
‘Who cares? Anyway, so what if we were? Grow
I knew Miranda had the right attitude but I couldn’t help feeling horribly embarrassed as we waited in the queue for her to pay. She made it worse, playing to the crowd, putting her arm round me and gazing at me fondly.
‘Stop it!’ I hissed.
‘Oh come on, where’s your sense of humour, Coochie Face?’ said Miranda, laughing at me.
I was even more upset when we got out of the shop at last and saw the time on the big ornamental clock.
‘Oh no! It’s nearly two! We’ll be so
. We’re going to be in so much trouble!
I started running. Miranda hung onto me.
‘Don’t, Sylvie. Slow down and start thinking. You’re right, we really will be in big trouble
we go back to school now. If we waltz in halfway through the afternoon then it’ll be dead obvious that we’ve been
. But if we don’t go back at all then they’ll just think we’re away ill or something. They don’t take a register in the afternoon, do they? The teachers won’t even notice.’
‘But the other girls will know we were here this morning.’
‘No one will dare blab on me. Do you think old Lucylocks will tell?’
‘She wouldn’t tell to get me into trouble, but she might be worried about me, scared that something’s happened.’
‘Oh yeah, I suppose she might start flapping. Can’t you text her? Look, borrow my mobile.’
‘She hasn’t got a mobile herself.’
‘Oh, typical. What a bore that girl is. I don’t know what you see in her, she’s so smug and silly and lickle-girly.’
‘No, she’s not. Not really,’ I said. ‘Poor Lucy. Carl’s always horrid about her too.’
‘There! I knew Carl and I were soulmates. Anyway, let’s hope Lickle Lucy holds her tongue because we’ve just got to stay out of school now, we’ve no serious option. So we might just as well enjoy ourselves, right? Let’s go round
the shops. Hey, we could wind up all the shop girls pretending to have steamy sessions in the cubicles. Oh, Sylvie, your face! I’m just
. Don’t go all moody on me, there’s a darling.’
‘We’re going to be in even more trouble if we miss the whole of afternoon school. And what will we do about our homework and stuff?’
‘Oh, get a grip, girl. Copy off Lucy. Look, no one will notice at school, but if they
you can always say you were sick at lunch time or had a splitting headache or whatever and had to go home. Don’t look so worried, it’s easy to fob them off, believe me.’