They were going to get me.
I saw them the moment I turned the comer. They were halfway down the street, waiting near the bus stop. Melanie, Sarah and Kim. Kim, the worst one of all.
I didn't know what to do. I took a step forward, my sandal sticking to the sidewalk.
They were nudging each other. They'd spotted me.
I couldn't see that far, even with my glasses, but I knew Kim would have that great big smile on her face.
I stood still. I looked over my shoulder. Perhaps I could run back to school? I'd hung around for ages already. Maybe they'd locked the playground gates? But perhaps one of the teachers would still be there? I could pretend I had a stomachache or something and then maybe I'd get a ride in their car?
"Look at Mandy! She's going to go running back to school. Baby!" Kim yelled.
She seemed to have her own magic glasses that let her see right inside my head. She didn't wear ordinary glasses, of course. Girls like Kim never wear glasses or braces on their teeth. They never get fat. They never have a silly haircut. They never wear stupid baby clothes.
If I ran back they'd only run after me. So I went on walking, even though my legs were wobbly. I was getting near enough to see them clearly. Kim was smiling, all right. They all were.
I tried to think what to do.
Daddy told me to try teasing her back. But you can't tease girls like Kim. There's nothing to tease her about.
Mom said just ignore them and then they'll get tired of teasing.
They hadn't got tired yet.
I was getting nearer and nearer. My sandals were still sticking. I was sticking too. My dress stuck to my back. My forehead was wet under my bangs.
But I tried very hard to look cool. I tried to stare straight past them. Arthur King was waiting at the bus stop. I stared at him instead. He was reading a book. He is always reading books.
I like reading too. It was a shame Arthur King was a boy And a bit weird. Otherwise we might have been friends.
I didn't have any real friends now. I used to have Melanie, but then she got friendly with Sarah. Then Kim decided she'd have them in her gang.
Melanie always said she hated Kim. But now was her best friend. If Kim wants you as a friend then that's it. You don't argue with her. She can be
She was right in front of me now. I couldn't stare past her anymore. I had to look at her. Her bright black eyes and her glossy hair and her big mouth smiling, showing all her white
I could even see her when I shut my eyes. It was as if she'd stepped through my glasses, straight into my head. Smiling and smiling.
"She's got her eyes shut. Hey, let's bump into her," said Kim.
I opened my eyes up quick.
"She's crazy," said Sarah.
"She's playing one of her pretend games," said Melanie.
They all cracked up laughing.
I couldn't stand it that Melanie had told them all our private games. My eyes started stinging. I blinked hard. I knew I mustn't cry no matter what.
Ignore them, ignore them, ignore them ...
"She's trying to ignore us!" said Kim triumphantly. "Did Momsie-Womsie tell you to ignore us mean nasty girlies, then?"
There was no point trying to ignore her anymore. I couldn't, anyway. She'd stepped straight in front of me. She had Melanie on one side, Sarah on the other. I was surrounded.
I swallowed. Kim went on smiling.
"Where is Mommy, anyway?" she said. "Not like Mommy to let little Mandy sneak home all by herself. We were looking out for her, weren't we, Mel, weren't we, Sarah?"
They always nudged each other and whispered and giggled when my mom went past. They nudged and whispered and giggled even more when Mom and I were together. One terrible time Momtook hold of my hand and they all saw before I could snatch it away. They went on about itfor weeks. Kim made up tales of baby harnesses and strollers and baby bottles. And a pacifier for the pitiful.
They were nudging and whispering and giggling now. I didn't answer Kim. I tried to dodge
around her but she dodged too, so she was standing in front of me. Right up close. Bigger than me.
"Hey, I'm talking to you! You deaf or something? Had I better shout?" said Kim. She bent so close her silky black hair brushed my cheek. "Where's Mommy?" she bellowed into my ear.
Excerpted from Bad Girls by Jacqueline Wilson. Copyright © 2002 by Jacqueline Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.