Best Friends

by Mat Charles



Hello. My name's Andrew. I live here, with my Mum and Dad. We used to have

a dog called Ben, too, but he had to go away.


It's a big house, isn't it? Dad says we used to live somewhere else before,

but that was a long time ago and I don't remember it. Anyway, we live here

now. There are six rooms upstairs and five rooms downstairs. I've drawn a map.


There's a great big garden, too. There's grass for football and flowers and

trees and blackberries and nettles and a compost heap, but there's also a

secret passage running down the side into my den. When you're in there, you

can see the whole garden but they can't see you, because of the leaves in

the way. Sometimes I go and play in there.


I'd like to play hide-and-seek with some friends there one day. I think I

did before-I can't exactly remember-but now I only have Mum and Dad to

play with. Dad's always too busy. Mum says he works very hard. But that's

okay, because I have Mum all to myself.


Mum plays hide-and-seeks with me, but she cheats. She knows where I am, but

she pretends not to and looks in silly places like in the bin or up the

drainpipe. Sometimes that makes me giggle, but she still doesn't find me. I

know she's cheating because whenever I hide at other times, like when she

wants me to go to bed, she finds me straight away. But I like trying to

find her.


Sometimes we do other things, like chess or snakes and ladders. I tried to

teach her to play computer games once, but she wasn't very good at it.

Sometimes I just watch the TV or read my comics. Sometimes when I'm doing

that and the house is all quiet, she'll come and snuggle up to me, and I

have to give her a hug or she'll cry. Then I scratch her head, which I like

doing. She likes it too, though she pretends not to.


In the day I have to go to school, of course. We do reading and writing and

sums and typing. It's quite easy, really. I have to keep my pencils and

rubber in my pocket, though, otherwise the other children will take them.


I played a trick on them, once. I got a red felt-tip and coloured all over

my rubber, then left it on the table. William Brent took it when I wasn't

looking and used it, and it turned his paper red. I thought it was funny,

but he told Mrs. Jones and she told us both off, which was unfair because it

was his fault for taking my rubber.


They call me names too, when the teachers aren't there, like "fleabag".

Usually, though, they don't talk to me much. But that's okay, because I

like playing by myself, or talking to the dinner ladies. They come out and

look after the children at playtime. My favourite one is called Beth. She's

nice and big, so that if you give her a hug you can only just get your arms

round her. I told her that once, and I think she liked it.


But I don't like all of the dinner ladies, so sometimes I do other things.

I made up this game called "Shadow-Check" where you have to run around

trying to zap people. If they're standing in your shadow and you squeeze

your thumbs and make a "doo-doo" noise, you zap them. But you have to stay

out of other people's shadows. And if it's been raining and the playground

has dark and light splotches, you have to try and stick to the light bits.


I tried to explain it to Stewart once, but he didn't understand. Stewart's

nice. I knew him before I came to this school, and we used to play

sometimes. He still talks to me every now and then, but he doesn't get much

chance because he's got a lot of friends. Usually he plays football in the

breaks. I asked if I could play too, but he didn't think it would be a good



Some of the lessons are quite good, and most of the teachers are nice, but

I like being at home better than school. Most days, Nana or Taid comes to

pick me up. When they aren't there, Mum comes instead. I like that best,

but the other mothers don't like her very much, and it sometimes makes her

sad when they stand away from her. Dad is always still at work at

going-home time.


I like playing with Mum, but it would be nice to be friends with somebody

else, and anyway sometimes she's busy with making dinner or cleaning the

house and I get bored. I asked her when Ben was going to come back. She

said never, and looked as though she was going to cry again.


I cried when Ben had to go. Dad said the men took him away because he did a

wee-wee on Mum. I tried to tell him that dogs sometimes do that in funny

places, and he was usually a good dog, but it didn't make any difference. I

think he didn't like Ben very much, and it wasn't fair to send him away

just for that.


I didn't want her to cry, so I asked her if I was going to get any brothers

and sisters like the other children do, which would be nice because then

we'd both have somebody else to play with. She said, "no," though, which is

a shame, and then she did cry, so I hugged her and patted her head and

scratched her between the ears until she felt better.

Copyright 1998 by Mat Charles. If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask the author for permission first. Thank you.

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