Chapter OneYou are not going to believe me, nobody in their right mindscould possibly believe me, but it's true, really it is!
When I woke up this morning, I found I'd turned into mymother. There I was, in my mother's bed, with my feet reachingall the way to the bottom, and my father sleeping in the otherbed. I had on my mother's nightgown, and a ring on my lefthand, I mean her left hand, and lumps and pins all over myhead.
"I think that must be the rollers," I said to myself, "and ifI have my mother's hair, I probably have her face, too."
I decided to take a look at myself in the bathroom mirror.After all, you don't turn into your mother every day of theweek; maybe I was imagining it - or dreaming.
Well, I wasn't. What I saw in that mirror was absolutely mymother from top to toe, complete with no braces on the teeth.Now ordinarily, I don't bother to brush too often - it's abig nuisance with all those wires - but my mother's teethlooked like a fun job, and besides, if she was willing to do aterrific thing like turning her body over to me like that, theleast I could do was take care of her teeth for her. Right?Right.
You see, I had reason to believe that she was responsible forthis whole happening. Because last night, we had a sort of anargument about something and I told her one or two things thathad been on my mind lately. As a matter of fact, if it's OKwith you, I think I'd better start back a little farther withsome family history, or you won't know what I'm talking aboutor who (whom?).
My name is Annabel Andrews. (No middle name, I don't even havea nickname. I've been trying to get them to call me Bubbles atschool, but it doesn't seem to catch on.) I'm thirteen; I havebrown hair, brown eyes, and brown fingernails. (That's a joke- actually, I take a lot of baths.) I'm five feet; I don'tremember what I weigh but I'm watching it, although my mothersays it's ridiculous, and I'm not completely mature in myfigure yet. Maybe by the summer though.
My father is William Waring Andrews; he's called Bill; he'sthirty-eight; he has brown hair which is a little too short,but I've seen worse, and blue eyes; he's six feet (well, fiveeleven and a half); and he's a fantastically cool person. He'san account executive at Joffert and Jennings, and last yearhis main account was Fosphree. If you're into the environmentthing at all, you know what that is: no phosphates, lowsudsing action, and, according to my mother, gray laundry. Wehad boxes of the stuff all over the kitchen. You couldn't giveit away. This year, he has New Improved Fosphree (That's whatthey think!), plus something called Francie's Fortified FishFingers. Barf time! If there's anything more disgusting thanfortified fish, I don't know what.
Oh yes, I do, I just thought of what's worse. My brother. Heis I cannot begin to tell you how disgusting. It may not be anice thing to say but, just between you and me, I loathe him.I'm not even going to bother to describe him - it's a wasteof time. He looks like your average six-year-old with a fewteeth out, except that, as my grandmother keeps saying,"Wouldn't you know it'd be the boy who gets the long eyelashesand the curly locks? It just doesn't seem fair." No, itcertainly doesn't, but then what's fair? These days, not much.Which is exactly what I was trying to tell my mother lastnight when we had the fight. I'll get to that in a minute, butfirst a few facts about Ma.
Her name is Ellen Jean Benjamin Andrews, she's thirty-five -whichmakes her one of the youngest mothers in my class - shehas brown hair and brown eyes. (We're studying Mendel. I mustbe a hybrid brown. With one blue- and one brown-eyed parentyou're supposed to get two brown-eyed kids and two blue-eyedkids. So far there are only two kids in our family, but lookwho's already gotten stuck with the brown eyes. Me. The sisterof the only blue-eyed ape in captivity. That's what I callhim. The blue-eyed ape. Ape Face for short. His real name isBen.) Anyway, back to my mother. Brown hair, brown eyes, and,as I've already mentioned, nice straight teeth which I did notinherit, good figure, clothes a little on the square side; allin all, though, she's prettier than most mothers. Butstricter.
That's the thing. I can't stand how strict she is. Take food,for instance. Do you know what she makes me eat for breakfast?Cereal, orange juice, toast, an egg, milk, and two VitaminC's. She's going to turn me into a blimp. Then for lunch atschool, you have one of two choices. You can bring your ownbag lunch, with a jelly sandwich or a TV dinner (They're quitegood cold.) and a Coke, or if you're me, you have to eat thehot meal the school gives you, which is not hot and I wouldn'tgive it to a dog. Alpo is better. I know because our dog eatsAlpo and I tried some once.
She's also very fussy about the way I keep my room. Her ideaof neat isn't the same as mine, and besides, it's my room andI don't see why I can't keep it any way I want. She says it'sso messy nobody can clean in there, but if that's true, howcome it looks all right when I come home from school? When Iasked her that last night, she just sighed.
A few other things we fight about are my hair - she wants meto have it trimmed but I'm not falling for that again (Thelast time it was "trimmed" they hacked six inches off it!) -andmy nails which I bite.
But the biggest thing we fight about is freedom, because I'mold enough to be given more than I'm getting. I'm not allowedto walk home through the park even with a friend, because "NewYork is a very dangerous place and especially the park."Everybody else's mother lets them, "but I'm not everybodyelse's mother." You're telling me!
Tomorrow one of my best friends in school who lives in theVillage is having a boy-girl party and she won't let me gobecause the last time that friend had a party they playedkissing games. I told her the mother was there the whole time,staying out of the way in the bedroom, of course, and shesaid, "That's exactly what I mean."
What kind of an answer is that? I don't get it. I don't getany of it. All I know is I can't eat what I want, wear what Iwant, keep my hair and my nails the way I want, keep my roomthe way I want or go where I want. So last night we really hadit out.
"Listen!" I screamed at her. "You are not letting me have anyfun and I'm sick of it. You are always pushing me around andtelling me what to do. How come nobody ever gets to tell youwhat to do, huh? Tell me that!"
She said, "Annabel, when you're grown-up, people don't tellyou what to do; you have to tell yourself, which is sometimesmuch more difficult."
"Sounds like a picnic to me," I said bitterly. "You can tellyourself to go out to lunch with your friends, and watchtelevision all day long, and eat marshmallows for breakfastand go to the movies at night ..."
"And do the laundry and the shopping, and cook the food, andmake things nice for Daddy and be responsible for Ben and you ..."
"Why don't you just let me be responsible for myself?" Iasked.
"You will be, soon enough," she said.
"Not soon enough to suit me," I snapped.
"Is that so!" she said. "Well, we'll just see about that!" andshe marched out of the room.