The Real Fantasy

Kitty has always dreamed of her fantasies coming true . . .

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9. Birthday Surprise

‘So, Kitty, what are you wearing for Suzie’s party?’

I snap out of my daydream. Kelly is looking at me expectantly from across the lunch table.

‘Oh . . . err . . .’

I can’t remember. Hardly a minute before I left for school this morning, I’d remembered that Suzie’s birthday party is today, and had hastily thrown the first clothes I could get at into my bag.

Kelly sighs at me and says, ‘For the past couple of days, Kitty, you’ve been so distant. Is there something the matter?’

‘Oh, no, everything’s fine,’ I lie. She wouldn’t believe me anyway.

And you didn’t reply to my text,’ Kelly says. ‘Well, I decided on the skinny jeans, in case you’re wondering.’

She picks up a chunk of meat from her plate and looks at it. ‘That’s the most disgusting looking piece of lamb, I’ve ever seen,’ she says, looking repulsed.

‘It’s chicken,’ I correct her.

Kelly drops it back on her plate, splattering gravy all over the table. ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m not eating another bite of this. Come on, let’s go. Oh no, it’s Physics next.’

I go through the rest of the day in a daze. I half expect that Nolan person to jump through the door at any moment. But he doesn’t. Suddenly, I find the bell ringing and everyone filing out of school. Kelly steers me out the gates, where Suzie’s mum is waiting to pick us up.

We’re not doing anything special for Suzie’s birthday party. It’s just a sleepover at her house. Kelly and I were invited, along with our other friend Jade.

I try to join in the conversation on the car journey to Suzie’s house, but, somehow, I can’t really contribute to a discussion about whether Justin Beiber or Connor Maynard is fitter – I don’t like either of them much to begin with.

We arrive at Suzie’s house and run straight to her room. Not much has changed since I last saw it. The walls are covered with posters of One Direction and Justin Beiber and Ed Sheeran and, well, you get the idea.

It’s obvious that everyone’s thought long and hard about what they are going to wear today. Kelly’s brought her favourite sparkly top and her Ugg boots, while Jade is Jack Wills from head to toe. Suzie’s got a JLS t-shirt on which she says she got for her birthday. Me, on the other hand – well, the clothes I grabbed this morning turn out to be a pair of red chinos and a red jumper . . . so I end up looking like a tomato. Kelly doesn’t waste any time pointing this out.

‘I was in a hurry this morning, ok?’ I feel my cheeks turning the same colour as my clothes.

‘You’re an odd one, Kitty,’ Kelly laughs.

Suzie’s mum calls us down for tea. It’s pizza. We go to the dining room and shovel it down in hardly ten minutes.

Then we go to the living room, where Suzie decides that we should watch a film. There’s a huge argument between Kelly and Suzie about whether we should watch a Justin Beiber tour DVD or and gruesome horror movie. I try to stay out of it, because I know from experience that arguing with Kelly never ends well. Eventually, Jade manages to compromise with a Twilight film.

‘Why don’t we watch them all back to back?’

Everyone agrees, so we snuggle down on the sofa and the floor. We’re half way through the second film when we have another argument about whether Bella should choose Jacob or Edward. I opt for Jacob, but for some strange reason the others don’t (?). Suzie’s mum hears the noise and tells us that it’s getting quite late and that we should at least get into our pyjamas. Somehow I managed to remember my pyjamas this morning – they’re covered with pictures of cows and I have my signature black and white cow bed socks too.

Jade rolls her eyes. ‘Do you still have those, Kitty?’

‘I like them,’ I say defensively.

The four of us go back downstairs and continue our Twilight marathon. I give everyone a running commentary about what the films changed and how the books are so much better. For those few hours, I completely forget about all the freaky stuff that’s been happening to me.

We’ve just started playing Eclipse when there’s a knock on the door. We ignore it and Suzie’s dad goes to answer it. A few moments later, he walks into the living room and looks at me.

‘Kitty, your dad’s here,’ he tells me.

‘Really?’ I say. My friends look equally amazed. ‘But he shouldn’t be coming until tomorrow.’

‘I know,’ Suzie’s dad explains, ‘he says that something’s happened and that you need to come with him right away.’

'Why?'

'He didn't say. Now, Suzie, go and help Kitty get everything she's brought.'

Suzie pauses the DVD and we troop upstairs to go and get my things.

‘What do you think he wants?’ Kelly asks me. We’re searching for my pencil case which seems to have mysteriously disappeared.

‘I have absolutely no idea,’ I say as I gather all of my school stuff and sleepover bag. Suzie hands me my pencil case from under her bed.

‘Do you think something bad has happened?’ Jade says anxiously. Always a worrier – Jade.

‘I really don’t know,’ I say, shaking my head.

With my back agsinst the wall and hoping that none of them notice the butterfly, I change back into my clothes because I don't particuarly want to wander round town in my pyjamas.

We go downstairs again and, sure enough, there’s dad standing shiftily at the end of the hallway. I see the scared look on his face – maybe Jade is right. I slip on my shoes and I walk over to him, shooting him a questioning look but I don’t think he notices. He’s holding his body stiffly and there’s a line of anxiety across his forehead. This is when I start to get worried – this is really unlike him.

‘Would you like a cup of tea, Martin?’ Suzie’s dad offers.

‘No, thank you.’ He turns to me. ‘Well, Kitty, we’d better be off now.’

‘But why, dad?’ I ask him.

‘I’ll tell you in a minute.’ He forces a smile. ‘Come on, Kitty.’

He steers me towards the door.

‘Bye, Kitty,’ Suzie calls.

‘See you on Monday,’ Kelly says.

‘Hope everything’s ok,’ Jade says anxiously.

‘Goodbye, guys,’ I say over my shoulder, as my dad guides me out of Suzie’s house. The door slams shut and it occurs to me that he didn’t even say goodbye to Suzie’s parents.

Dad’s got a firm grip on my shoulder and he’s directing me to the path on our left.

‘Err . . . haven’t you got the car?’ I say, as we walk straight onto the next street.

‘Not today, Kitty.’

‘But our house is all the way on the other side of town.’

‘We’re not going home now, Kitty.’

I stop in front of him. ‘Why not, dad? What’s going on?’

‘I’ll tell you later.’

‘No,’ I insist. ‘Tell me now.’

And as I stare into his terrified eyes, I see his face changing. Literally. His features morph and shift. His hair lightens. He shoots down in size. Until he’s not dad anymore. Until he’s-

‘You!’ I exclaim. It’s the boy who keeps turning up. First in my bedroom - then outside my kitchen - while I was grabbing something from the shop - and now. ‘What are you doing here? What have you done to my dad? Can’t you just leave me alone? I’ve-‘

But my next words never make it out of my mouth. My lips are moving, but no matter how hard I try, no sound comes out.

‘You know, you’re a lot nicer when you can’t talk.’ He smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.

I look around – the street’s deserted. What am I supposed to do?

‘Come on,’ he says. He grabs my hand in an iron grip and that’s when the world around me explodes.

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