JULIA JONES - My Worst Day Ever! - Book 1: aged 9 - 12 (4 page)

The birthday


Finally it was the weekend. I jumped out of
bed early on Saturday morning eager to have breakfast and be ready when Millie
arrived to pick me up.

Our week had been very hectic! Since the
incident in the Performing Arts building, we were forced to do our rehearsals
in a small adjoining room while the damage to the main area was being repaired.
And unfortunately, it wasn’t free very often so we had to make the most of the
limited amount of time that we were given to use it.

Sara’s hero status had escalated and as I
had predicted, everyone wanted to be her friend. Although I sat next to her in
class and she was always polite and reasonably friendly, it seemed that she
didn’t have time for Millie and I during breaks anymore. She was too
preoccupied with all the new friends she had made, including of course, Blake

Meanwhile, Millie and I continued to work
with the other dance groups and the younger kids whose dances we had to
coordinate and choreograph, which kept us pretty busy ourselves.

But now that Saturday had finally arrived,
I looked forward with enthusiasm to the day ahead. After a couple of days of
heavy rain, the sun was shining and it promised to be a beautiful day. Jackie,
one of the girls in our class had invited a group of friends to her house to
celebrate her birthday. She lived on a large property that was situated on the
outskirts of town. Most of us lived in the suburbs and never got the chance to
do all the fun things that are possible when you own lots of land, so we were
all really excited about it.

I had been there once for her birthday party
years before and I remembered vividly, the amazing day I had experienced. One
of the highlights had been a trailer ride that her dad had taken us all on. He
had hooked up their open box trailer to the back of his four wheel drive and
everyone had climbed into the back. Even two of our teachers had hopped in with
us. I remembered thinking how lucky Jackie was to have our teachers at her
birthday party but now that idea seems pretty ridiculous. Having our current
teacher, Mrs. Jackson at a birthday party is not something I could imagine
anyone in my class wanting to arrange. It would be different if she were young
and cool like Miss Fitz, our drama teacher, but Mrs. Jackson is pretty old now
and I don’t think that she’d enjoy it either!

There were about twenty kids at the time as
well as the teachers, all squashed into the back of that trailer. Although I
guess because the kids were quite small, we managed to fit in reasonably well.
Everyone had been screaming and cheering as Jackie’s dad drove around and
around this huge grassy area and up their dirt driveway then back down again.
The excitement we felt when he went over bumps on the road or the grass was so
intense that none of us had wanted him to stop.

That trailer ride really was a highlight of
my childhood and back then, I thought that Jackie was the luckiest kid alive to
grow up on a property like that. And reminiscing about that day made me wonder if
they still had that trailer because I thought it would still be a pretty cool
thing to do!

When I jumped into the back of Millie’s car
later that morning, I was filled with excited anticipation about what lied
ahead. Blake, Jack and Alex had also been invited and it was pretty much all
that everyone had been able to talk about at school the day before. Sitting
alongside Millie, we chatted about how much fun the party was going to be as
well as how we were looking forward to giving Jackie her birthday present. We
had gone shopping at the mall after school one day earlier in the week and were
so happy with what we had bought.

The light blue jacket studded with silver
sequins and a cool design on the collar and cuffs of the sleeves had definitely
stood out on the rack. And because we’d had enough money left over from what we
had pooled together, we were also able to buy her a really pretty silver
necklace with a capital J on it. She had always admired the one I wore, which
my mom had given me for my last birthday. It was just very lucky that we had
gone shopping when the sales were on as the prices for everything were
drastically reduced. This meant we could get her an extra special present and we
couldn’t wait to give it to her!

When we jumped out of the car, we saw Jackie
running towards us, a huge grin on her face. We were the first to arrive and
she was bubbling over with excitement.

We gave her a hug and handed her the
present that we had carefully wrapped in shimmering pink paper, along with a
darker shade of curling ribbon tied decoratively around it. She could see our
impatience in wanting her to open it straight away but decided to place it on a
table on the veranda of her house so that all the presents could be opened
later on, when everyone was there together. While we were waiting for the
others, she showed us around her property.

Since my last visit, her parents had made
some incredible changes to the outside entertaining area of their home. Where
there was once just a large patch of green grass, now sat a huge sparkling
swimming pool to which was attached an amazing looking diving deck at one end.
Although summer had not yet arrived, the temperature that day was unusually warm.
In addition, her parents had activated the pool’s heating system in preparation
for the party so the water would also be a lovely temperature.

There were streamers and balloons strung
everywhere including on the walls and framework of a nearby gazebo and this
really added to the birthday party atmosphere.

While we waited for the others to arrive,
Jackie offered to take us over to the horse paddocks. As well as all the other
advantages of living on a property, Jackie also had a pony of her own. He was a
beautiful chestnut welsh mountain pony called Charlie and was the cutest thing
I had ever seen. Ever since I was a little girl, I had always dreamed of owning
my own pony one day and I gently stroked his forehead, wistfully thinking about
how much I would love to have my own horse. He eagerly took the carrots from
our hands that Jackie had given us to feed to him and his rough tongue tickled my
skin as he licked up the last remnants of carrot that remained.

“You will have to come over more often,”
Jackie said to us, especially when she realized how taken with her pony I was.

“We’d love to!” Millie and I replied in

“You have the coolest property, Jackie,” I
continued. “You’re so lucky!!”

Jackie smiled in response and then said,
“Come on, we’d better head back. The others may be here already!”

We raced towards the house just as several
cars were pulling up in the driveway. It seemed that everyone was arriving at
once. People were jumping out of cars and within minutes, Jackie was laden with
gifts from all her guests. Then I noticed Sara strolling down the driveway with
her mom. She had so much stuff that she needed help to carry it. And in her
hands was a huge box that was gift wrapped in the most beautiful lilac colored
wrapping paper with an enormous white bow adorning the top.

“Oh my gosh, Sara!” Jackie exclaimed. “What
is inside that parcel?”

“Oh, it’s just something small!” Sara replied
sweetly. “But I hope you like it!”

Right behind Sara, I saw Blake and his
friend, Jack. When Sara spotted them both, I could see her sudden spark of

“Hi boys!” she called out in her usual
friendly manner. “Can you please help me with all of this?” And she indicated
the gear that her mom was carrying for her. They quickly moved to relieve her
of all the bags and bits and pieces and then followed Sara into the house.

Trailing Jackie into her bedroom, the girls
all stored their belongings and quickly got changed to go swimming. Because the
boys were already dressed in swimming trunks, they had raced straight down to
the pool, keen to get into the water. In typical boy style, by the time the
girls joined them the boys were already doing bomb dives off the trampoline
that stood by the pool’s edge.

Squealing with excitement at being
splashed, the girls stood by laughing and giggling as they watched the boys in

“I’m going to try that too!” Sara exclaimed
as she followed Blake up onto the trampoline.

“Only two are allowed on the trampoline at
once,” Jackie warned as Alex and a couple of the girls tried to climb up and
join in the fun.

“But we can all jump off the diving deck
together!” Jackie continued, running around to the other side of the pool and
onto the large diving platform.

“This is an awesome setup, Jackie!” called
out Sara as she gave Blake a shove into the pool and then bomb dived into the
water right next to him.

I stood alongside Millie, watching everyone
and in particular, Sara who was paying so much attention to Blake. It was
clearly obvious that she really liked him and it seemed that she wanted him and
everyone else to know it.

Grabbing his head, she tried to dunk him
under the water but he quickly swam away, jumped out of the pool and back onto
the trampoline.

“Show us your biggest bomb dive, Blake,”
Sara called out, but he just grinned and kept bouncing on the tramp.

“Let’s go in,” Millie called, grabbing my
hand and leading me onto the diving deck. Holding hands, we ran and did a big
jump into the pool together. I was determined to just enjoy myself and not
worry about Sara or Blake. It was shaping up to be a great party and there was
too much fun to be had, to be bothered worrying about them.

Just then I noticed Becky, one of the girls
from our dance group, sitting on a chair in the gazebo watching everyone in the

“Becky!” I called. “Aren’t you coming in?”
Becky hadn’t changed into her swimmers and I wondered why.

Hopping out of the pool, I grabbed my towel
and went over to join her. When I asked again why she wasn’t swimming, she
simply replied that she didn’t want to.

By that time, Millie had joined us and
quietly whispered in my ear. “She’s too embarrassed to put swimmers on.”

I looked at Becky with sympathy. She was
such a nice girl but had developed a real paranoia about her weight. Even
though she wasn’t what you would call fat, she had become very self-conscious about
her body and I remembered that towards the end of the previous summer she had
started declining all offers to go swimming. No one else had commented, but
Millie and I had figured out the reason why.

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