· eBook · Ages 9-12 years
· January 16, 2009 · $4.99 · 978-0-307-54871-9 (0-307-54871-6)
Vicky's my best friend. We're closer than sisters. They call us the Twins at school because we're so inseparable. We've been best friends ever since we were at nursery school together and I crept up to Vicky at the water trough and she pulled a funny face and then tipped her red plastic teapot and started watering me. Vicky got told off for being mean to me but I didn't mind a bit. I just stood still in the sudden downpour, honored at her attention. Mum was cross because my gilt hairslides went rusty but I didn't care. Vicky hadn't said anything but I knew we were now friends.
We stayed friends all the way through primary school and then we both went on to Downfield. Even Vicky was a bit quiet that first day in Year Seven when we didn't know anyone else. We know everyone now in Year Nine and they're all desperate to be Vicky's friend but we mostly just stick together, the two of us. We're going to be best friends for ever and ever and ever, through school, through college, through work. It doesn't matter about falling in love. Vicky's already had heaps of boyfriends but no one can ever mean as much to us as each other.
We walk to school together, we sit next to each other all day, and after school I either hang out at Vicky's or she comes home with me. I hope Vicky asks me round to her place today. I like her home far more than mine.
It's time to go home now but we're checking out this big notice on the cloakroom door about after-school clubs. We've got a new head teacher who's fussed because Downfield is considered a bit of a dump and so he's determined we're all going to do better in our exams and get involved with all these extracurricular activities.
"It's bad enough having to go to school," Vicky says. "So who's sad enough to want to stay afterlike, voluntarily?"
I nod out of habit. I always agree with Vicky. But I've just read a piece about a new drama club and I can't help feeling wistful. Ever since I was little I've wanted to be an actress. I know it's mad. I'm not anyone special. No one from our housing development ever gets to do anything glamorous or famous, and anyway, even the richest, prettiest, most talented kids can't make a living out of acting. But I just want to act so much. I've never been in anything at all, apart from school stuff. I was an angel in the Nativity play way back in Year Two. Vicky got to be Mary.
Miss Gilmore, who's head of English and drama, had us all in, Toad of Toad Hall when we were in Year Seven. I so wanted to be Toad, but Miss Gilmore chose Fatboy Sam. Typecasting. Though he was good. Very good. But I have this mad, totally secret idea that I could have been better.
Vicky and I were just woodland creatures. Vicky was a very cute squirrel with an extra-fluffy tail. She did little hops everywhere and nibbled nuts very neatly She got a special cheer and clap at the end. I was a stoat. You can't be cute if you're a stoat. I tried to be a very sly sinister stoat, lurking in the shadows, but Miss Gilmore pushed me forward and said, "Come on, Jade, no need to be shy."
I didn't get a chance to explain I was being sly, not shy. I tried not to mind too much. Even Dame Judi Dench would find it hard to get a special cheer if she had to play a stoat.
I didn't want to be an animal. I wanted to play a person. When I'm at home on my own-when Vicky's busy and Mum's at work and Dad's asleep- I parade round the living room and act out all the soaps or I'll do Claire Danes' lines in Romeo and Juliet or I'll just make up my own plays. Sometimes I'll act people I know. I always end up acting Vicky. I close my eyes and think about her voice and when I start saying something I sound just like her. I stay Vicky even when I open my eyes. I can feel her long thick bright hair bouncing about my shoulders and my green eyes are glittering and I'm smiling Vicky's wicked grin. I dance up and down the room until I catch sight of myself in the big mirror above the fireplace and see my own sad pale skinny self. A ghost girl. I always feel much more alive when I'm being Vicky.
"Come on, Jade," Vicky says, tugging at me.
I'm reading the Drama Club notice one more time. Vicky's getting impatient.
"You're not interested in that weirdo club, are you?"
"No! No, of course not," I say, although I'm extremely interested and Vicky knows I am. There's a little gleam in her green eyes like she's laughing at me.
I take a deep breath.
"Well, maybe I am interested," I say. I know I shouldn't always let her walk all over me. I should try standing up for myself for once. But it's hard when I'm so used to doing what Vicky wants. "You wouldn't join with me, would you?" I ask.
"You've got to be joking!" says Vicky. "Miss Gilmore's running it. I can't stick her."
Nearly all the teachers think Vicky wonderful, even when she's cheeky to them, but Miss Gilmore is often a bit brisk with Vicky, almost as if she irritates her.
I know Miss Gilmore's dead boring," I agree tactfully. "But it could be fun, Vicky. A real laugh. Go on, please, let's. I bet you'd get all the best parts."
"No. I wouldn't. Not necessarily," says Vicky. "I don't like acting anyway. I don't see the point. It's just like playing a silly kid's game. I don't get why you're so keen, Jade."
"Well ... it's just ... Oh, Vicky, you know I want to be an actress." I feel my face flooding scarlet. I want it so badly I always blush when I talk about it. I look awful when I go red. I'm usually so white that the sudden rush of blood is alarming, and a terrible contrast to my pale hair.
I quite fancy being on television-but as myself. Can you see me as a TV presenter, eh?" Vicky starts a wacky telly routine, using the end of her tie first as a mike and then turning it into a little kid's puppet, making it droop when she tells it off for being naughty.
I can't help laughing. Vicky's so good at everything. I think she really could get on television. She could do anything she wants. She'd have no trouble at all making it as an actress.
"Please, Vicky. Let's join the Drama Club," I say.
"You join the silly old Drama Club."
I don't want to join by myself."
I always do everything with Vicky. I can't imagine joining anything independently. It wouldn't be the same.
"Don't be so wet, Jade," says Vicky. "You go. We don't always have to be joined at the hip." She gives her own hip a little slap. "Stop growing, you guys," she says. "I'm curvy enough now, right? And as for you, Big Bum!" She reaches round and gives her bottom a punch. "Start shrinking straight away, do you hear me?"
"You've got an absolutely perfect figure and you know it, so stop showing off," I say, giving her a nudge. Then I slip my hand through the crook of her elbow so we're linked. "Please please pretty please join the Drama Club with me?"
"No! Look, you wouldn't automatically join anything I wanted to go to, would you?" says Vicky, tossing her hair so that it tickles my face.
"Yes I would. You know I would. I'd join anything for you," I say.
Vicky's eyes gleam emerald.
"Right!" She looks up at all the notices for clubs. "OK, OK. I'll go to the dopey old Drama Club with you if ... you'll join the Fun Run Friday Club with me."
"There! That's settled. So it's drama on Wednesdays after school and fun running on Fridays. What a starry new social life!" says Vicky.
"You are joking, aren't you?"
"Nope. Deadly serious," says Vicky, and she whips out her felt pen and writes her name and mine on the Drama Club list and for the Fun Run Club too.