Read Polly Plays Her Part Online

Authors: Anne-Marie Conway

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BOOK: Polly Plays Her Part
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I sent her a text straight away saying how much I loved it. I was sorry I hadn't opened it at school but I couldn't; not while Sam was gassing on about how great it would be if
her
mum went away. And anyway, it was supposed to be something special between the two of us.

I trailed downstairs to see if there was any sign of Cosmo. I could see he'd been in to eat but he was out again now. Ever since Dad fitted the cat flap he'd slip in when he was hungry and then shoot straight back down to number 25.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to learn my first scene. I said the lines over and over again, but every time I tried to memorize them I thought about Mum on the aeroplane and two minutes later I'd forgotten them again. It was just so difficult to imagine myself playing the part of Marcia when I knew Mum probably wouldn't be there to watch me.

By the time Saturday came round I still didn't know my lines. I sat by myself on the edge of the stage and read them through one more time; but it was hopeless. Phoebe was being funny with me as well. She hadn't actually said anything but she'd been a bit weird at school – ever since the other day when she gave me the photo frame. She was standing with Monty B and Rachel now, laughing about something. She saw me watching and waved but I looked back down at my script.

For the first hour we learned a new song called “The Rainbow Room”. It's all about the game Marcia's playing when she gets sucked into the computer. The aim of the game is to get over the rainbow and reach the pot of gold – but the gold turns out to be a trap.

“It's a warning, really,” explained Mandy. “Sometimes we waste an awful lot of energy wishing our lives were different, or searching for something, instead of enjoying what's right in front of us.”

“You mean like the opportunity to be Arthur's partner at the ballroom dance contest?” teased Monty B. “You have said yes, haven't you, Mandy?”

“Well…I have said yes actually,” said Mandy slowly. “But only because it's for charity, and I've told him I don't want the cameras on me.”

“Oh don't worry about that,” said Monty B. “The cameras will all be pointing at me and Phoebe!”


What!
” spluttered Phoebe.

“Well you
are
going to dance with me, aren't you? Come on, you know you've been dreaming about it for most of your life.”

“Forget it, Monty B,” said Mandy. “You're not dancing in the contest. The whole point is to raise money for charity, not to be the star attraction on the
Six
O'Clock News.

“And anyway, there's no way I'd do it,” said Phoebe.

“What about you then, Catharine?” said Monty B. “I know you're a bit taller than me but you could always bend down a bit – or dance on your knees.”

“No way!”

“Go on, Catharine,” said Neesha. “We don't want to miss the chance of watching Monty B make an idiot of himself on national TV.
Or
Mandy dancing with Arthur. Have you started rehearsing yet, Mandy?”

“It's
local
TV, Neesha,” said Mandy. “Stop getting so carried away. And no we haven't started practising.”

“I've actually been on TV already,” said Sam, showing off just for a change. “I entered my cat Bella into the biggest cat show in the country and she was placed first in the older cat category. She got a rosette and everything. Hang on, I've got a picture here somewhere.” She took out her phone but, before she could find the photo of Bella and her winning rosette, Ellie started to hop up and down, waving her arms about.

“I know, I know,” she said. “Why don't we
all
enter the contest? I've always wanted to learn proper ballroom dancing and if all our parents come to watch we'll raise loads of money for the old people's home.”

Everyone started talking at once, deciding who they wanted to pair up with and what dance they could do.

“Hang on!” said Mandy. “We can't spend weeks and weeks learning a load of ballroom dances. I'm not saying
no
but
if
we all take part
I'll
choose the pairs and we'll spend
one
session practising. Okay? Now can we
please
carry on?”

She began to play the introduction to the opening number and everyone grabbed their scripts.

“We've wasted enough time already!” she shouted over the music. “We've got a show to put on in a couple of months in case you'd all forgotten!”

We sang right through the opening number
and
“The Rainbow Room” and then after break, Mandy taught us the dance to “Give Me Your Name – Give Me Your Number”.

“How are your lines going, Polly?” she asked just before we left. “Have you made a start?”

“Yes, I've done loads!” I said, sticking a great big smile on my face. “I've been learning them all week.”

“I bet your mum and dad were excited about you getting the main part.”

I nodded, still smiling, even though my face was beginning to ache. I hadn't even told Dad. Every time I tried to talk to him about anything he'd start off listening and then Jake would smile, or reach out his arms, or start howling and Dad would be off. Pretending I was fine all the time was proving to be much harder than I'd thought.

When I got back from drama I went down the road to number 25 to see if Cosmo was there. The new family had moved in and it felt really weird knowing that someone else was sleeping in my room. Cosmo was sitting in his usual place on the wall but as soon as I sat on the doorstep he hopped onto my lap for a cuddle. “I wish you'd come home,” I whispered into his fur, but I knew that as far as he was concerned he
was
at home.

I carried him up the road to number 11, but he wasn't happy. “We've got to accept that we live here now, Cosmo,” I said, staggering up the garden path. I took him into the kitchen and held him on my lap while Diane smeared butter on his paws. He struggled like mad but we managed to get enough on before he squirmed out of my grasp and back through the cat flap.

“Honestly, Polly, don't worry,” said Diane. “He's just getting used to us.”

She tried to give me a hug but I jerked away. I'd never get used to Diane or living at number 11 – so I didn't see why Cosmo would either. I trailed upstairs to my room and logged on to the computer. There was a message from Mum with a photo attached. I opened it straight away and there she was, standing outside her new apartment in the sunshine. She looked so happy I could feel a lump lodge itself in my throat and it was suddenly difficult to swallow.

“Hope rehearsals are going well,” the message said. “Give Cosmo a big kiss, love you lots and lots – Mum xxx.”

It was obvious she was having a brilliant time without me. She probably didn't miss me at all. I deleted the message and logged on to friend2friend.

“Where have you been?” said Skye, the second I entered the Ruby room. “I've been so worried about you!”

“Sorry…it's been crazy. I go to this drama club on Saturdays and I've got the main part in the show we're doing so I've been busy learning my lines. I've got hundreds! It's lucky I've got Phoebe here to help me.”

Skye said she went to a drama club as well but that she'd never had the starring role. We chatted for a bit longer and then just as I was about to log off Skye asked me how many points I had.

“No idea,” I wrote back. “How do I find out? And what are they for?”

It turned out that friend2friend wasn't an ordinary chat room. There were points and levels and all sorts of different privileges to earn. Every time I chatted to Skye we earned five points each and then another five points for every half-hour we stayed online. I asked Skye how come she knew so much more about the site than me, but she said I'd probably just missed an attachment or something when I first entered my details.

“We're working as a team now,” she explained. “So the more we chat the more points we earn – and for every 100 points we earn we get to move up a level and gain new privileges.”

We already had our first 100 points, so we were allowed to enter the Emerald room, and then when we reached 200 we'd be able to pay a visit to Pearl Palace and design our own personalized avatars.

The Emerald room was more or less the same as the Ruby room, except once you were in there you could chat to new people and earn even more points. I started to talk to a girl called Moose27 and someone called Tim. Moose27 went on about this band she'd been to see and what a nightmare school was and how her boyfriend kept messing her about and Tim told her to dump him and concentrate on school.

I didn't really say much at first, but there was something cool about chatting to a group of people who didn't know anything about my real life and I soon joined in. They didn't have a clue about Dad leaving Mum to live with Diane, or about Mum moving to Spain, or about how difficult I was really finding it to learn my lines.

We hung out in the Emerald room for ages and the longer we chatted the more points we got. Every time I thought about logging off, someone else asked me something, or Skye sent me a separate message from the Ruby room and I just had to carry on. I knew I should be learning my lines but I couldn't drag myself away.

I was still chatting when Diane called me down to eat. I gulped down my tea as fast as I could and carried on until bedtime. By the time Dad came in to say goodnight we still hadn't accumulated enough points to get into Pearl Palace and design our avatars, but we were close.

“You've been busy,” Dad said, sitting on the edge of my bed and tucking me in like I was still a baby. “How was drama today? I still don't really know much about your new production. Have you got lots of lines to learn?”

“Drama was fine,” I said, my mind still fixed firmly on the friend2friend website. “I've got quite a few lines but I know them already.”

“Have you heard from your mum, yet?”

I nodded and snuggled down under my covers, yawning. The last thing I wanted was to get into a whole big conversation about Mum.

I logged on as soon as I woke up. Skye was already in the Ruby room waiting for me and we chatted about nothing really, just so we could earn more points.

“By the way,” she said after we'd been talking for a bit. “Why isn't Phoebe on friend2friend? It would be so great to chat to her too.”

I made up some rubbish about Phoebe being a real swot, studying every spare minute for her exams, and changed the subject.

At school on Monday I tried to get the
real
Phoebe to sit with me at lunch – away from all the others.

“I'll test you on your lines,” I said. “Come on, we both need the practice.”

“I know,” she laughed, “but we've got to eat first.” She sat down with Ellie, Sam and Tara and I slipped into the seat beside her. I just didn't get why she wanted to sit with them all the time when we could just as easily go off and sit by ourselves.

“My mum's still doing my head in,” Sam was saying. “It's ever since that row with my sister. She spent most of yesterday nagging me to do my homework and then when I'd done it she kept saying how sorry she was.”

“Sorry about what, though?” said Ellie.

Sam shrugged. “Beats me,” she said. “Nagging, I suppose. I think she's having some kind of massive mid-life crisis.”

“Maybe she's coming down with something,” said Phoebe. “Like a cold or the flu.”

“Well, I wish she'd hurry up and come down with it,” grumbled Sam.

“I found my script in case you were wondering,” said Ellie, changing the subject. “But by the time I got home that day it was in the washing machine and now it's completely ruined.”

“Have you told Mandy yet?” asked Phoebe.

Ellie shook her head. “No way, I'm too scared. I don't want to tell her at all, not after last term when my
Dream Factory
script ended up lining the hamster cage. Remember?”

“Yes, but at least this time it's clean!” said Sam.

I listened to them talking away but I didn't join in. I was waiting to get Phoebe on her own so I could tell her about the message from Mum, and about how Cosmo was still running back down to number 25 every five minutes. But in the end the bell rang and it was time to go in.

“Why don't you come over to mine after school?” said Phoebe, as we traipsed back to class. “Monty B might pop round so you could start going through your scenes together.”

“Can't you come over to mine, instead? Text Monty B and tell him to come to yours tomorrow or Wednesday.”

“Don't be like that, Polly. You've got to start getting on with him at some point. Why can't we all be friends together?”

I scuffed my shoes along the corridor. “Just because our characters get on in the show, doesn't mean we have to get on in real life, and anyway, he won't want me to be there.”

BOOK: Polly Plays Her Part
10.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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