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Authors: Jacqueline Wilson

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BOOK: Kiss
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When her form teacher complained about their gaudiness she came to school the next day with green beads and ribbons to match our uniform. This was preposterous, but Miss Michaels let her get away with it!

Miranda seemed born to break every rule going. She was the girl everyone longed to look like but she wasn’t really
and she wasn’t even ultra-slim. She didn’t seem to mind a bit that she was a little too curvy. In fact she
seemed particularly pleased with herself, often standing with her hands on her hips, showing off her figure. The girls in her form said she never hid under her towel after showers. Apparently she stood there boldly, totally bare, not caring who stared at her.

She was clever and could come top in class if she bothered to work hard, but she generally messed around and forgot to do her homework. She knew all sorts of stuff and apparently chatted away to the teachers about painting or opera or architecture, but no one ever teased her for being a swot. She didn’t even get teased for being posh, though she spoke in this deep fruity voice that would normally have been cruelly mimicked. It helped that she swore a great deal, not always totally out of earshot of the teachers. She told extraordinary anecdotes about the things she did with her boyfriends. She was nearly always surrounded by squealing girls going ‘Oh, Miranda!’

I wandered into the girls’ toilets this lunch time and there was a huddle of girls goggling at Miranda. She was perched precariously on one of the wash basins, swinging her legs, her feet in extraordinary buckled boots with long pointy toes.

She was in the middle of a very graphic description of what she had done with her boyfriend last night. I stopped, blushing furiously. The other girls giggled and nudged Miranda, who hadn’t paused.

, Miranda. Look, there’s the Titch.’

‘Hi, Titch,’ said Miranda, giving me a wave again. Her fingernails were bitten but she’d painted each sliver of nail black, and inked artistic black roses inside each wrist. Then she carried on with her detailed account.

‘Miranda! Stop it! The Titch has gone scarlet.’

Miranda smiled. ‘Perhaps it’s time she learned the facts of life,’ she said. ‘OK, Titch? Shall I enlighten you?’

the facts of life, thanks,’ I said.

I was starting to want to go to the loo rather badly now but I didn’t want to go into a cubicle with them all listening to me.

‘Ah, you might have a sketchy knowledge of the basic
, but I doubt you’ve put them into practice,’ said Miranda.

‘Stop teasing the Titch, Miranda!’

‘As if the Titch would ever have a boyfriend,’ said Miranda, rolling her eyes at them.

‘I do so have a boyfriend,’ I said, stung. ‘You shouldn’t jump to conclusions. You don’t know anything about me.’

The girls tensed excitedly. People didn’t usually snap back at Miranda. I was astonished I’d done it myself.

Miranda didn’t seem at all annoyed. ‘I
to know all about you,’ she said. ‘
your boyfriend. Tell me all about him.’

‘He’s called Carl,’ I said.

‘And?’ said Miranda. ‘Come on, Titch. What does he look like?’

‘He’s very good looking. Everyone says so, not just me. He’s fair. His hair’s lovely, very blond and straight. It flops over his forehead when it needs cutting. He’s got brown eyes and he’s got lovely skin, very clear – he never gets spots. He’s not very tall but he’s still quite a bit taller than me, obviously. He doesn’t bother much with his clothes and yet he always looks just right, kind of cool and relaxed.’

‘Wow!’ said Miranda. She was sort of sending me up, and yet she seemed interested too. ‘So what’s he like as a person? I find all the really fit-looking guys are either terribly vain or they’ve got this total personality bypass.’

‘No, Carl’s not a bit like that. He’s ever so funny and great at making stuff up and inventing things. He’s very clever, much brainier than me. He knows just about everything. He’ll go on and on about some subject he’s truly interested in but he’s never really boring.’

‘So how long have you known this boy wonder?’ Miranda asked. ‘Or
you really know him? You’re the girl who reads a lot. Maybe you’re making up your own story now.’

‘Yeah, like, as if a boy like that would want to hang out with the Titch!’ said Alison, another new girl.

know him,’ said Patty Price. ‘We were all in the same class in middle school.’

‘So he’s only our age,’ said Miranda. ‘Just a little boy. I
go out with boys my own age, they’re so stupid and immature.’

‘Carl isn’t stupid,’ I said.

‘No, he’s, like, ultra-brainy,’ said Patty. ‘He goes to Kingsmere Grammar now, doesn’t he, Titch? He got a special scholarship. He’s great at art too. He painted one wall back in middle school – this Venice scene with glass-blowers, and it was just like a real artist had done it.’

‘He sounds interesting,’ said Miranda. ‘I want to meet him. Hey, Titch, bring him round to my place tonight.’

I stared at her. She was surely joking! All the other girls seemed equally amazed.

‘Yeah, right,’ I said.

‘No, really. We’ll have a party, it’ll be great,’ said Miranda.

‘Oh, can I come, Miranda?’

‘Can I?’

‘I’m coming too!’

‘Hey, hey, I’m asking the Titch, not you lot. Sylvie and her boyfriend Carl.’ Miranda reached out with her pointy boot and gently prodded me with it. ‘Will you come, Sylvie?’

No one ever called me Sylvie at school apart from the teachers. I was so surprised I didn’t know what to say.

I had to say
, of course. The very idea of Carl and me going to one of Miranda’s parties was preposterous. But you didn’t just say
No thanks
to a girl like Miranda.

‘Well, that would be lovely,’ I mumbled, ready to start in on some excuse.

Miranda didn’t give me a chance.

‘Great,’ she said, jumping down from the wash basin. ‘See you around eight. It’s ninety-four Lark Drive.’

She was off with a flounce of her short skirt before I could say another word. The others all ran after her, still begging to come too.

I was left with my heart thudding, wondering what on earth I was going to do now.


me to a party at her house tonight,’ I told Lucy at the start of afternoon school.

‘Oh yeah, like, really!’ said Lucy, breaking off a finger of her Kit-Kat and giving it to me. ‘I know it’s mean to bad-mouth people but I truly can’t stand that Miranda. She’s so posey, such a show-off.’

‘I know. But she really
invited me. And she’s asked Carl too.’

‘But she doesn’t know Carl. She doesn’t even know
, Titch.’

‘I know. I don’t get it.’

‘Is it a big party? Do you think she’ll invite me?’ said Lucy, sounding hopeful.

‘I thought you couldn’t stick her.’

‘I can’t. And you wouldn’t ever catch me going
to one of her parties. Honestly, the things that go on!’


‘Well, this girl in Year Ten knows her, and her cousin went to a party in the summer, and
…’ Lucy started whispering stuff in my ear.

‘Rubbish!’ I said uneasily. ‘You’re making it up. No one does that anyway, not in real life.’

‘You wouldn’t know. You’re so innocent, Titch,’ said Lucy.

I wanted to hit her even though she was my friend. I could put up with Miranda and her pals patronizing me but not
. Her mum and dad called her Lucy Locket and she had three Bear Factory bears, Billy, Bobby and Bernie, and she still liked watching her old Disney videos.

‘Well, if I go to Miranda’s party I won’t be innocent much longer,’ I said.

‘You’re not really going to go, are you?’ said Lucy.

‘Of course I am,’ I said, though I had no intention whatsoever of doing so.

’s going?’

‘Yep,’ I said, wondering why toads weren’t tumbling out of my lips, I was telling so many lies.

‘But you’re always saying Carl’s so antisocial,’ said Lucy.

This has been a kind lie. When I first made friends with Lucy I wanted to show Carl that I’d
managed to make a good friend even though I felt so lonely and half a person without him. I also wanted to show Lucy just how close Carl and I still were. I suppose I wanted to show off. I was mad enough to invite them both round to tea one Saturday. It was

Lucy arrived in a dreadful silly-frilly dress and shoes with heels. They seemed too big for her. Maybe they belonged to her mother. She wore thick make-up, though she forgot she was wearing it and kept rubbing her eyes so it smeared all over the place and made her look like a panda. She spoke in a silly self-conscious way in front of Carl, and whenever he said anything at all, even ‘Can you pass me the cakes?’ she giggled. She practically
herself she giggled so much. I wanted to die.

Carl made a bolt for home the moment he’d finished his tea. He barely paused to say goodbye. I didn’t want Lucy’s feelings to be hurt so I pretended he was going through a very shy withdrawn stage and couldn’t really cope with company.

Carl was incredulous that I had become so friendly with Lucy. For a long time he used poor Lucy’s name whenever he thought anything especially twee, silly or naff.

‘Oh, dear God, switch that programme off, it’s too Lucy for words,’ or ‘What have you got that skirt on for, it’s a bit Lucy, isn’t it?’ or ‘You don’t look
with lipstick, Sylvie, it makes you look Lucyfied.’

It wasn’t fair. I didn’t really like Lucy very much either, but I needed
to go round with at school.

‘I can’t see Carl wanting to go to a party with a whole lot of strangers,’ Lucy said now.

‘You’re probably right,’ I said.

I went home in a daze. I was sure I wasn’t
going to Miranda’s. I
Carl to refuse, and then I could use him as a convenient excuse.

When I got home to our semi-detached houses I went down Carl’s crazy-paving path instead of my own. I knocked at the front door and Carl’s brother Jake opened it. He just grunted when he saw me and ambled off up the stairs again, leaving the door open so I could come inside.

He was sixteen, in Year Eleven at my school. He wasn’t as brainy as his brother and hadn’t sat for any special scholarships. He didn’t look a bit like Carl. He had dark untidy hair and very dark eyes so you could barely see his pupils. He’d been quite small for his age once but now he was this great lanky guy of at least six foot. He was bright enough but he rarely bothered with much homework. The only thing he worked hard at was playing his guitar.

I wondered what Miranda would make of Jake. I thought he was far more her cup of tea, can of lager, whatever. He’d probably go for her too, even though she was only in Year Nine. I had a feeling Miranda was already famous throughout the school.

‘Miranda Holbein has invited Carl and me to a party tonight!’ I called up the stairs after him.

He paused on the top step. ‘Cool!’ he said, trying not to sound too impressed. He peered down at me. ‘She’s invited
?’ He shook his head. ‘He won’t go.’

‘I know,’ I said. ‘Where is he? In his bedroom doing his homework?’

‘Like the nerdy little swot he is,’ said Jake, pushing Carl’s door open. ‘Oh. Not here. His bike was round the back so he must be somewhere.’

‘Don’t worry, I’ll look for him,’ I said.

I was pleased. Jake hadn’t said more than two consecutive words to me for years. Just one mention of Miranda Holbein and I seemed to have become cool by association.

I went looking for Carl. I tried the living room first, the looking-glass twin of my own. I liked the Johnsons’ so much more. I loved their crimson velvet sofa and bright embroidered throws and big saggy cushions and the large red and blue and purple paintings on the wall.

Carl’s mum was an amateur artist and the house was like her own gallery. She’d always nurtured Jake and Carl’s artistic abilities too, encouraging them to crayon on the kitchen walls when they were little. There were a few of my own scribbles too. I’d crayoned a crazy wedding all along one wall, with me in a white meringue and Carl in a white suit so that we looked like an advert for washing powder. There
was a long colourful row of wedding guests: my mum and dad and Jake, and I’d added lots of children from school and our cat Flossie and my rabbit Lily Loppy (both long deceased) and Jake’s dog Wild Thing (so wild he’d run away and never come back). They were all wearing big pink carnations, even the cat and the dog, and the rabbit had
, one on each ear.

Carl’s mum Jules was washing lettuce at the kitchen sink.

‘Hi, Sylvie sweetheart,’ she said.

‘Hi, Jules,’ I said.

She wouldn’t let me call her Aunty Julia, let alone Mrs Johnson. She was Jules to everyone, even the little kids at the nursery school where she worked part time. She’d obviously been doing finger painting with them today. There were little red and yellow fingerprints all over her big flowery trousers.

BOOK: Kiss
8.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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