Excerpted from The Worry Web Site by Jacqueline Wilson Copyright © 2003 by Jacqueline Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Type in your worry:
I think I'm going to get a stepmother.
There are lots of stepmothers in my favorite book of fairy tales. Don't go, "Yuck, boring!" Fairy tales are seriously cool, much scarier than any R-rated video you've ever secretly watched at a sleepover. Snow White's stepmother is the scariest of all.
She doesn't look scary. She looks beautiful in the picture in my book--though her long queen's robes are spoilt because Hannah tried to color them with purple wax crayon. I was FURIOUS. I felt like snapping the book shut and smacking Hannah round the head with it, even though she's only little and didn't mean to spoil the picture.
I minded so because it's such a special book. It used to be our mum's when she was a little girl. She gave it to me. Snow White's mum died when she was born so she got this stepmother who looked so lovely that her magic mirror said she was fairest of them all. But she was evil and mean and dead jealous when the mirror said Snow White was the fairest now, so the stepmother tried to have her chopped into bits and then she poisoned her with an apple and she fell down dead and was kept in a glass coffin until a handsome prince came by (yawn!) and brought her back to life. The wicked stepmother was so maddened that she boiled with rage and her shoes stayed so red hot she couldn't take them off and she had to dance until she died.
She must have had awful blisters. I've got one where my old sneakers are rubbing. Dad doesn't always get it together when we need new shoes. It's not his fault he's so busy. Yes it is. I'm not making excuses for my dad anymore. I can't stick him now. And I especially can't stick her.
I'm going to add to my worry.
I wish she was wicked.
That sounds daft. Mr. Speed will think I'm seriously weird. Mind you, Mr. Speed is a little
bit weird himself. He's speedy, like his name. He whizzes up and down the school corridors, he dodges round the desks in the classroom, and he skips across the playground. He really did skip once when Claire brought a skipping rope to school. He could do all sorts of fancy footwork too--but then he tripped and fell over and said a very rude word. He's not a bit like the other teachers.
This Worry Web Site is all his idea. It's instead of Circle Time. You know, when you all sit in a circle, fidgeting, and you're meant to discuss your problems. Sometimes it's dead boring because someone like Samantha bangs on about missing her dad. Everyone always feels sorry for Samantha because she's so little and pretty with lovely long fair hair. Even Mr. Speed has a special smiley way of looking at her that makes me sick.
Sometimes Circle Time is terribly embarrassing because someone stupid like poor William confides the sort of problem that should stay a deadly secret. He told the whole class that he wets the bed and his dad yells at him and makes him cry and his mum says she can't keep up with washing his sopping sheets. Some of the kids giggled and poor William looked as if he was going to cry again. Mr. Speed got very fierce with the gigglers and praised William for being so honest and sensible over a tiny physical problem that happens to heaps of people--but even Mr. Speed couldn't stop half the class calling poor William Wetty Willie in the playground.
So maybe that's why he came up with the Worry Web Site idea.
"I've designed the supercool, wacky, wicked Web site on the classroom computer, OK? Any time you have a problem, access the Worry Web Site when it's your turn on the computer and type it in. You don't need to put your name. Then we can all contribute our comments and suggestions--just as long as they are kind and constructive, get it?"
We got it.
Everyone started typing in their worries. Someone had a good long moan about their sneaky sister and their brainy brother.
Someone was worried about being bottom of the class.
Someone wrote about having scary nightmares.
Someone was sad because their pet rat had just died.
One of the boys wrote that he liked one of the girls a lot. That made everyone giggle--and Greg went very pink. Hmm! I wonder who he fancies?
Someone else went on and on. Oh boo hoo, it's so sad, I miss my dad, etc, etc. We all know who that was. At least Samantha can still see her dad when she goes to stay with him and his new girlfriend.
Well, I see my mum. Sometimes. I have to take my little sister, Hannah, so she can get to know our mum. She left when Hannah was just a baby. Mum had Depression which made her very sad so she cried a lot and then ran off. When she ran off I guess Dad and Hannah and I got Depression too because we all felt very sad and cried a lot as well. It felt very scary when Dad cried so I told him that it was OK. I'd look after him and Hannah now.
I do look after both of them. I've been almost like Hannah's mum. When she was a baby I fed her and washed her and dressed her and changed her (yucky, but you have to do it). I cuddled her lots and played peekaboo and do you know something? The very first word she said was Holly. That's my name.
She's said millions and millions and millions of words since. She is a total chatterbox. She's in the preschool class at my school and Miss Morgan obviously adores her--though she always gets into trouble for talking. She even talks during Story Time. She doesn't mean to be naughty. She just likes to join in.
I read to her at bedtime from my special book of fairy tales. She likes "Red Riding Hood" best, especially the wolf bits. "Oh, Grandma, what big teeth you've got," I say in a teeny tiny Red Riding Hood voice, and then Hannah shrieks, "All the better to Eat You All Up!" and bounces up out of bed at me, gnashing her teeth. Once she bit me on the nose by accident. She can be a very boisterous baby sister.
My favorite fairy tale is "Snow White." When I read the start of the story out loud and say that Snow White's hair is as black as coal and her skin as white as snow and her lips as red as berries, Hannah always shouts, "Holly berries!" and stabs at the picture with her finger.
"That's you, Holly," she says.
I wish! I don't look the slightest bit like Snow White. I have got red lips (especially if I've been eating red M&M's) but I often have a red nose too (I get lots of colds).
From the Hardcover edition.