Authors: Sue Limb
Nancy Napper Canter
Disaster! Jess tried to hide her horror.
Her mum frowned. ‘What’s wrong, sweetheart? It’s what you’ve always wanted. A trip to see your dad! I rang him about it last night and he can’t wait to see you! And there’ll be sun, sea, art and ice cream! Plus lots of interesting places on the way down to Cornwall. It’s the holiday of a lifetime. For goodness’ sake, Jess! What’s the matter?’
Jess could not possibly, ever, tell. She would rather run through the supermarket stark naked and farting than reveal her secret to Mum. This sudden fabulous surprise holiday was going to ruin her life, big time. Jess’s heart sank and sank and sank until it was right down on the carpet like a very ill pet.
But she must try and sound delighted. ‘Nothing’s wrong! I’ve just got a bit of a headache. But hey, Mum! Thanks! It’ll be fantastic! When do we leave?’ She tried desperately to force a bit of enthusiasm into her voice, but it was hopeless – like trying to cram her bum into size 10 jeans.
‘We’ll set off the day after tomorrow,’ said her mum, with the excited smile of a practised torturer. ‘Early. There won’t be so much traffic then, and we can just potter gently down into the countryside. Oh, I can’t wait! It’s going to be marvellous!’
Mum’s eyes glazed over and she stared out of the window with a look of faraway rapture, as if the angel of the Lord had just appeared over Tesco’s.
‘Ruined abbeys!’ she drooled. ‘Rare wild flowers! Bronze Age burial mounds!’
Jess sometimes thought her mum was slightly off her head. Maybe if her parents had stayed together it would have kept Mum sane. But then again, maybe not. Her dad was kind of crazy, too.
‘Start packing!’ said Mum. ‘You’ve only got twenty-four hours!’ And she rushed off upstairs, possibly to pack
Fabulous Fossils and Fascinating Cracks in the Ground
Stylish Sea Urchins of the South West
Twenty-four hours! Jess had to think fast. She had just one day to put an end to this horrendous talk of a holiday. Could she become dangerously ill in twenty-four hours? Could she discreetly vandalise the car so it would never, ever, start again? Could she, acting with utmost care of course, slightly burn the house down?
She had to see Fred. Dear Fred! He would know what to do. Perhaps they could elope. Although they had no money. Perhaps they could elope to the bottom of his garden. It was a bit overgrown down there. There was a huge tree. They could secretly live in the tree. A bit like Tarzan and Jane, only without the muscles or the beauty.
Darling Fred! She had to text him now! Jess raced up to her bedroom but – how cruel fate was – her mobile phone had disappeared. The floor of her room was covered with scattered heaps of clothes, CDs, books and empty chocolate wrappers, as if it had been ransacked by wild animals in the night. Jess flung the debris around for a moment and then decided to cut her losses and just go round to Fred’s house without texting him. He was bound to be there. He almost never went anywhere without telling her these days.
She just had to check her make-up first. Jess headed for the kitchen where there was a small mirror above the sink, so you could stare into your own tortured eyes as you washed the dishes. She sighed. Her eyebrows were rubbish. They would have been rubbish even on an orang-utan.
Never mind. This was no time to pluck an eyebrow. She flung open the fridge and grabbed a can of Coke. No, wait, that should be water. Although she and Fred were close, they hadn’t yet passed the gas barrier. Silent pants were desirable in his company.
Jess got a glass of water and drank it while looking in the mirror.
Glug, glug, glug
went her throat, like a snake eating a whole family of gerbils. Most unattractive.
‘Have you seen my teeth?’ came a sudden spooky voice behind her. But it wasn’t a spectral presence. It was only Granny. Actually, what she said was, ‘Have you feen my teeth?’ because when she lost her teeth she couldn’t pronounce her ‘s’s. She called Jess ‘Jeff’. This was slightly irritating. Jess wasn’t completely opposed to the idea of a sex change, but if she did unexpectedly become a male person, she wanted to be called Justin, not Jeff.
‘Have you looked under your pillow?’ asked Jess. They went into Granny’s room and found the teeth immediately.
‘My goodneff, you are brilliant at finding things, dear,’ said Granny. ‘You fould work in airport fecurity when you leave fchool.’
Jess laughed. Granny’s teeth were always either in a glass of water on the bedside table, or under the pillow.