The first day back at school. I'm walking because I missed the bus. Not a good start. Year Nine. I wonder what it'll be like.
Number nine, number nine, number nine . . .
It's on that classic Beatles White Album, the crazy mixed-up bit at the end. I've always felt close to John Lennon even though he died before I was born. I like him because he did all those crazy little drawings and he wore granny glasses and he was funny and he always just did his own thing. I do crazy little drawings and I wear granny glasses and my friends think I'm funny. I don't get the opportunity to do my own thing, though.
It's half past eight. If I was doing my own thing right now I'd be back in bed, curled up, fast asleep. John Lennon had lie-ins, didn't he, when he and Yoko stayed in bed all day. They even gave interviews to journalists in bed. Cool.
So, if I could do my own thing I'd sleep till midday. Then breakfast. Hot chocolate and doughnuts. I'd listen to music and fool around in my sketchbook. Maybe watch a video. Then I'd eat again. I'd send out for a pizza. Though maybe I should stick to salads. I guess it would be easy to put on weight lying around in bed all day. I don't want to end up looking like a beached whale.
I'll have a green salad. And green grapes. And what's a green drink? There's that liqueur I sipped round at Magda's, creme de menthe. I can't say I was that thrilled. It was a bit like drinking toothpaste. Forget the drink.
I'll phone Magda, though, and Nadine, and we'll have a long natter. And then . . .
Well, it'll be the evening now, so I'll have a bath and wash my hair and change into . . . What should I wear in bed? Not my own teddy-bear nightie. Much too babyish. But I don't fancy one of those slinky satin numbers. I know, I'll wear a long white gown with embroidered roses all colors of the rainbow, and I'll put a big flash ring on every finger and lie flat in my bed like Frida Kahlo. She's another one of my heroes, this amazing Mexican artist with extraordinary eyebrows and earrings and flowers in her hair.
OK, there I am, back in bed and looking beautiful. Then I hear the door opening. Footsteps. It's my boyfriend coming to see me. . . .
The only trouble is I haven't got a boyfriend. Well, I haven't got a Frida Kahlo outfit or a bedside phone or my own television and video and my bed sags because my little brother, Eggs, uses it as a trampoline whenever I'm not around. I could put up with all these deprivations. I'd just like a boyfriend. Please.
Just as I'm thinking this a beautiful blond boy with big brown eyes comes sauntering round a car parked partly on the pavement. He steps to one side to get out of my way, only I've stepped the same way. He steps to the other side. So do I! We look like we're doing a crazy kind of two-step.
"Oh. Whoops. S-sorry!" I stammer. I feel my face flooding scarlet.
He stays cool, one eyebrow slightly raised. He doesn't say anything but he smiles at me.
He smiles at me!
Then he walks neatly past while I dither, still in a daze.
I look back over my shoulder. He's looking back at me. He really is. Maybe . . . maybe he likes me. No, that's mad. Why should this really incredible guy who must be at least eighteen think anything of a stupid schoolgirl who can't even walk past him properly?
He's not looking up. He's looking down. He's looking at my legs! Oh, God, maybe my skirt really is too short. I turned it up myself last night. Anna said she'd shorten it for me, but I knew she'd only turn it up a centimeter or so. I wanted my skirt really short. Only I'm not that great at sewing. The hem went a bit bunchy. When I tried the skirt back on there suddenly seemed a very large amount of chubby pink leg on show.
Anna didn't say anything but I knew what she was thinking.
Dad was more direct: "For God's sake, Ellie, that skirt barely covers your knickers!"
"Honestly!" I said, sighing. "I thought you tried to be hip, Dad. Everyone wears their skirts this length."
It's true. Magda's skirt is even shorter. But her legs are long and lightly tanned. She's always moaning about her legs, saying she hates the way the muscle sticks out at the back. She used to do ballet and tap, and she still does jazz dancing. She moans but she doesn't mean it. She shows her legs off every chance she gets.
Nadine's skirts are short too. Her legs are never brown. They're either black when she's wearing her opaque tights or white when she has to go to school. Nadine can't stand getting suntanned. She's a very gothic girl with a vampire complexion. She's very willowy as well as white. Short skirts look so much better with slender legs.
It's depressing when your two best friends in all the world are much thinner than you are. It's even more depressing when your stepmother is thinner too. With positively model girl looks. Anna is only twenty-seven and she looks younger. When we go out together people think we're sisters. Only we don't look a bit alike. She's so skinny and striking. I'm little and lumpy.
I'm not exactly fat. Not really. It doesn't help having such a round face. Well, I'm round all over. My tummy's round and my bum is round. Even my stupid knees are round. Still, my chest is round too. Magda has to resort to a Wonder Bra to get a proper cleavage and Nadine is utterly flat.
I don't mind my top. I just wish there was much less of my bottom. Oh, God, what must I look like from the back view? No wonder he's staring.
I scuttle round the corner, feeling such a fool. My legs have gone so wobbly it's hard to walk. They look as if they're blushing too. Look at them, pink as hams. Who am I kidding? Of course I'm fat. The waistband on my indecently short skirt is uncomfortably tight. I've got fatter this summer, I just know I have. Especially these last three terrible weeks at the cottage.
It's so unfair. Everyone else goes off on these really glamorous jaunts abroad. Magda went to Spain. Nadine went to America. I went to our damp dreary cottage in Wales. And it rained and it rained and it rained. I got so bored sitting around playing infantile games of Snap and Old Maid with Eggs and watching fuzzy telly on the black-and-white portable and tramping through a sea of mud in my wellies that I just ate all the time.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson. Copyright © 2002 by Jacqueline Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 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.