We have reached 40%, everybody! Many thanks for playing your part in that. To celebrate I am putting up another extract from the book. This part occurs at a point when Adam has already been rejected once by the love of his life Natalie. Of course he could just use his wishes to make her love him, but he doesn't want to do that; he wants her to love him of her own free will, which is of course the one thing he can't wish for. So he has used his wishes to make himself blindingly handsome and 6 foot two inches tall; and now he's gone round Natalie's house to try again. Now read on:
Natalie looks surprised. 'Oh, hi. I thought you were Gemma.'
'Gemma? Why would you think that? I don't look like Gemma, do I?'
'No, only I'm expecting her.'
'Oh, right.' Why doesn't she ask me in? But she's standing right in the middle of the doorway, with her hand on the door on the doorpost, like some sort of bouncer. Obviously, she doesn't want me to get any ideas about a re-run of Saturday being on the cards.
'I just sort of, you know, popped round, to see if you were up for another game of tennis.'
'But it's dark.'
'Oh, yeah, I didn't mean tonight, I just meant, you know, whenever you feel like it. Like tomorrow, say. Or Wednesday. Or any day, you know, I mean there's seven to choose from, isn't there?' I realise I'm babbling, but I can't stop myself. 'Course, it doesn't have to be tennis. There's plenty of other stuff we can do, you know what I mean?' Then I realise that this sounds a bit pervy, and I didn't mean it to, I swear. I can feel my face going bright red. 'Like, you know, we could go, er, riding or something.' Why did I say that? I'm sounding pervier and pervier. And I've never been riding in my life, I dunno what made me think of it.
'Let's leave it for the time being, shall we?'
I don't like that 'shall we', as if she's made some kind of really attractive suggestion I'm sposed to agree to, when in fact she's giving me the brush-off. Shall we. It's patronising, isn't? Like I'm sposed to go, 'Yeah, what a good idea.' Then again, she did say 'for the time being'. Does that mean anything? Does it mean she's thinking about it and reckons she might change her mind in the future? But most probably she just put it in to soften the blow. Or probably not even that, it's just an expression, it means nothing at all. She's given me the brush-off, that's all there is to it. I feel gutted. Literally, like a fish that's just had its guts ripped out with a sharp knife.
I'm like, 'Yeah, whatever.' There's a kind of awkward pause. Then I go, 'I won the fight with Renwick.'
'Oh, did you?'
'Yeah, I beat the crap out of him.'
But for some reason Natalie doesn't look very impressed by this. She's like, 'Good for you', but she doesn't sound like she thinks there's anything very good about it. There's another of those awkward kind of pauses.
'Well, yeah, I'd better be off, then.'
'Right. Bye then.'
And the front door swings closed, and there I am left standing on the doorstep like a lemon. I stand there looking at the door for a bit. It's a bright red one, one with a shiny gleaming knocker.
At the top of the road, just as I'm turning the corner, I almost bump into Gemma.
I quite like Gemma. I mean, I don't fancy her in particular, but she's always been friendly to me. I stop and look at her now, and I think, she doesn't look too bad. A bit dumpy, maybe, but that's not a crime, is it? She's got one of those sort of round faces with straight fair hair in a, like, helmet shape around it. Grey eyes. Nice smile.
'I'm just going round to Natalie's.'
'Yeah, I know.' I suddenly feel a little pang of envy for Gemma, for being Natalie's best friend. In a minute she'll be up in Natalie's bedroom, chatting and giggling away, sitting on the bed. While I'll be slouching along the street, wondering what to do with myself. It's just - I mean, it's just not fair, is it? I bet they talk about me, too.
'Give her my - ' Then I stop. I'd been about to say, Give her my love, but then I thought that's maybe overdoing it a bit, so I thought about changing it to, Give her my kind regards, but then I think maybe that sounds a bit sarcastic. So then it comes out all wrong, of course, and I end up saying, 'Give her my loving regards'.
'Your loving regards?'
'Yeah,' I say, feeling a bit annoyed with her for repeating it. 'What's the matter - haven't you heard that expression before?'
I'm like, 'It's in common usage,' but it doesn't sound totally convincing. I can't think of anything to say after that, so I just go, 'Well, see you around then,' and go slouching off. And as she goes walking off round the corner I sort of half-get the impression that she's laughing. I wonder what she'll say to Natalie about it.
'I wish I was a fly on the wall in Natalie's bedroom,' I go, just muttering it, not really meaning to make a wish. But the next second, that's exactly what and where I was.
You've probably never been a fly before, so I'd better explain what it's like. Obviously, the first thing you notice is how small you are. Just a little speck. But I didn't feel weak - I felt small and sassy, like I wouldn't take any shit from anyone. I was a little dirty horrible fly and nobody liked me and I didn't give a toss, that's how I felt. Like I was a little devil, or imp, or something, you know what I mean? I went zooming around Natalie's room, changing direction with a twitch of my wings, making this cool buzzing noise like I was a miniature light aircraft. I zoomed past the posters on the walls and the Penguin Classics and buzzed round the dragon made of sea-shells and the china unicorn on the dressing table. It all looked different, cause I had these big goggly compound eyes that broke everything up into little overlapping squares. It was cool. And I understood why flies spend so much of their time pointlessly buzzing round. It's just for the sheer fun of it.
The door opened and Natalie came in with Gemma. Quickly, I landed high on the wall and kept very still. I didn't want them opening the window and trying to shoo me out - or even worse, trying to swat me. I mean, just imagine that, getting squashed by a magazine wielded by the girl you love. It's what you'd call a tragic end.
Natalie sat down on a big pink bean bag. Even seen through compound eyes, all broken up into little overlapping squares, she still looked totally gorgeous.
Gemma sat on the bed. She's like, 'I met Adam outside.'
'Did you?' Natalie didn't sound too interested, I have to say.
'He sent you his loving regards.'
'That's what he said, his loving regards. He said it was in common usage.'
Natalie tapped her head kinda significantly. 'He's out to lunch, that boy, I reckon.' Then they both start laughing. Laughing. At me. I mean, what a cheek. And Gemma's a fine one to laugh. She's always getting expressions wrong.
'He's not playing with a full deck,' goes Natalie.
'He's got a marble loose!' goes Gemma.
'No, that's a screw loose. Or lost his marbles.'
'Whatever!' goes Gemma and they both scream with laughter again.
'He was round here just now, you know,' goes Natalie after they've calmed down.
'Was he? What did he want?'
'Wanted to play tennis again.'
'What did you say?'
'Said no, of course. I mean, after last time...'
Then they both laugh again. Madly. Like hyenas.
'I dunno, though. Why don't you say yes?' goes Gemma after a bit. 'I mean, he is pretty gorgeous. I wouldn't say no.'
I feel like I'm starting to like her more and more.
'You've got to admit he's good-looking,' goes Gemma. And I'm thinking, right, that's right, tell it like it is.
'He looks OK, I spose,' goes Natalie. 'If you like that sort of look. But he's so annoying. He really reckons himself, and he's always trying to make people laugh, and he's just not funny.'
That's just not true. I'm really good at making people laugh. I'm always making Emily laugh.
'I think he's funny sometimes,' goes Gemma. 'He can be quite a laugh.'
'No, he's too self-conscious, I think there's something a bit sort of... embarrassing about him.'
Embarrassing! How could she dare to say that about me! I dunno why I'm staying here listening to this. I feel like just buzzing off. But I know I can't, I gotta stay here and hear this out, it's like I'm pinned to the wall.
'I think he's really all right, you know,' goes Gemma loyally.
But Natalie shakes her head and kinda screws up her face. 'Not my type.'
'Isn't he? Who is your type, then?'
Natalie hesitates for a moment and then goes: 'Dirk Hudson.'
Dirk Hudson. That's what she said. That's just the last bleeding straw. My best mate. Dirk. When I heard this, I felt - how can I explain it? I felt like I had a great big juicy red heart, like you see on Valentine cards, and it had just been pierced right to the centre with a long pin. Or with a dirk. I remember Dirk telling me that his name meant some kind of dagger they used in Scotland. Well, I'd just been stabbed with one. A big sharp long one. And I felt like I was bleeding to death.
Slowly, I began to creep down the wall towards the door. I mean, I just wanted to get out of there now. But I didn't want to fly and buzz and draw attention to myself. No, I just wanted to creep quietly away. I didn't feel like a sassy, don't-give-a-toss, take-no-crap fly any more. I felt small and weak, a fragile little creature that could be crushed with a single blow.
And in a way, I just had been.
All the time I was creeping towards the door, Natalie and Gemma carried on talking. About Dirk. And what Natalie thought of him and what she'd like to do with him. I mean, it just wasn't decent, the things she was saying. I don't think girls should talk like that. It's a disgrace, if you want my opinion.
Well, I got to the door at last and I crawled under it - and then I flew down the stairs and into the hall. There was a sort of stained glass window thing at the top of the front door and it was open so I zoomed through it and out into the street. I'm like, 'I wish I was human again' in a little squeaky fly voice. And there I was, standing on the pavement, all six foot two of me.
Then I made another wish.
I wish Dirk Hudson never goes out with Natalie Forbes.'
Yeah, I know. It wasn't very nice of me. But I wasn't feeling very nice. I mean, what do you expect?
I might be a god, but I'm only human.
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