Good Reading : July 2011
SHORT STORY you know it's not some kind of trap?' I don't. I haven't got his phone number. I don't know how, or even if, he got mine. But it's alright for her, she'll have other opportunities, she can afford to be sceptical. If I don't go, and he's there, waiting, I'll have blown my chances for good. Mum used to say that when I was born I was so beautiful that a fairy bent down and kissed me on the mouth and left the imprint there for everyone to see. Even when I was little I knew that wasn't true. It would be a cruel thing for a fairy to do, to leave you a smile that made you sad. I used to beg her to read me 'Briar Rose' every bedtime -- the death curse of the old hag at the princess's birth, the 13th godmother who lessened it to a sleep, the kiss from the prince that woke her after a hundred years. I used to think that maybe, when I met my prince and he kissed me on the lips, the mark would disappear. But I don't think that anymore. I'm nearly 14 and I've stopped believing in fairy tales. Like the one where my dad comes back. I don't remember him, he left when I was little, before Mum got sick. Then, after a while, there was just me and Granny. Granny never mentions the mark, it's like she can't see it. She gets really angry if anyone says anything. She's my dad's mum. I think she feels bad about him going. She says Mum and Dad rowed all the time, they couldn't see eye to eye, but I wonder if it was me he couldn't look at. I google him now and again, just to see if he'll tur n up somewhere but so far he hasn't. There aren't many opportunities for a van driver to get in the news. I don't know what to do about Neil Chambers. I can't ask Granny because I know what she'd say: 'Take nothing to do with a boy who won't be seen with you in public.' If it was a day for Belle I'd ask her. Belle is our carer. She comes in after I've gone to school and she gets the shopping and helps Granny do stuff round the house. She has rings on all her fingers and bracelets all the way up her arms and around both her ankles. She jingles wherever she goes. 'Out she comes as white as snow, rings on her fingers, bells on her toes.' That's what Granny sings every time she sees her. Granny thinks it's hilarious because Belle's not white at all, she's black, but she's very kind and very wise, so she just laughs and joins in with Granny. Belle gives good advice. When I asked her about my GCSE choices she said, 'Choose what you love,' so that's what I did. But she won't be back now till next week and I won't get a chance to ask her about Neil Chambers. I'm not stupid. I know he's not a prince. But maybe, if I went, it'd be a start.You have to make an effort, Becca says. Our last school trip, to the Museum in Belfast, the time Mum was in hospital, Miss Grange sat beside me the whole way home. She pointed out the shape of Cavehill to me, how I used to think that maybe, when I met my prince and he kissed me on the lips, the mark would disappear. But I don't think that anymore. MEET JOHN GREEN Australia's latest hot property NO YOU CAN'T READ IT! Books banned around the world Indigenous Literacy Day ANDY GRIFFITHS IN THE OUTBACK Don't miss our Fathers' Day Gift Guide NEXT ISSUE on sale 29 July ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!