Authors: Annie Dalton
First published in Great Britain by Harper Collins Children’s Books in 2001
This updated and revised edition published by Lazy Chair Press in 2013
Text copyright (c) Annie Dalton 2001
The author and illustrator assert the moral right to be identified as the author and illustrator of the work.
This ebook is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be leant, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the author’s prior consent in any form (including digital form) other than this in which it is published, and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
To Sally Beets, and to Gemma and Madeline of Westborough Community School, all undercover angels
ast week I went back to Earth to visit my family.
OK, so it was just a dream, but it was totally true to life.
It was Christmas and my little sister was helping Mum to decorate the tree. I was amazed how much Jade had grown. She’s getting to be a proper daddy- long-legs like me, I thought.
Apart from my sister’s gangly legs, everything was exactly the way I remembered; the tomato-coloured throw on the sofa, the daft DJ rabbiting away on the radio, spicy chicken smells floating from the kitchen. Even the Christmas decorations were the same, right down to the painted wooden angel with glittery wings.
Perhaps Jade read my thoughts, because she took the little angel out of the box and suddenly went all tearful. “Melanie’s an angel now, isn’t she, Mum?” she sniffled.
My mum and Jade both glanced towards a framed photograph on top of the TV. It was one I’d never seen till now, which isn’t so surprising. Des, my step-dad, took it on my thirteenth birthday, just hours before a speeding joy-rider booted me out of the twenty-first century and into the next world.
I took another look at the photo and came out in major goose-bumps. That look in my eyes. So dreamy and well, wise. It’s almost like I knew what was going to happen. I felt a flicker of awe. Was it possible that at the same minute Des shouted, “Say Cheese!” and clicked the shutter, I was actually secretly preparing to leave Earth?
Jade was tugging anxiously at Mum’s sleeve. “My sister’s an angel in Heaven now, isn’t she?”
Mum tried to smile. “Of course she is, pet.”
My throat ached for her. My poor mum thought she’d lost me forever. She thought I’d vanished into a meaningless black hole called Death. I urgently needed to tell her that dying was nothing like she thought. “Don’t be sad,” I whispered. “This might be hard to believe, but I really am an angel! I go to this special angel school and I’ve got angel ID. And I made these brilliant friends…”
Or, that’s what I tried to tell her. But the instant I heard my own voice - POP! My beloved human home simply vanished like a soap bubble.
My ears filled with a vast, mysterious throbbing that sounded exactly like a cosmic humming top. All at once I was whooshing through space, past glittering stars and planets - and woke, gasping, in my room at the Angel Academy.
For a moment, I felt hideously alone, like a castaway washed to some strange far distant shore. It’s so weird the silly little things I miss, now that they’re gone forever. The way my little sister smelled of warm wax crayons. The sound of Mum’s voice. The taste of her cooking.
I sat up and took a few bracing breaths. Heavenly air has its own delicious signature scent. It smells very slightly like lilacs, but there’s actually nothing on Earth that’s quite like it. I immediately felt a tiny bit better.
Then I looked out of my window and saw the soaring skyscrapers of the Heavenly City, sparkling and shimmering in the celestial light, and the last trace of homesickness totally melted away. I felt a blissful smile spread across my face. “
is your home now, Melanie,” I whispered.
Yay! It’s the weekend, I remembered suddenly. No school for two days!
I wiggled my bare toes, admiring my glittery toenails. Lola had let me use some of her precious twenty-second century nail polish.
I hunted frantically for my clock. Yikes! I’d
I grabbed the phone and tapped in Reuben’s number. “Are you awake, Reubs?” I asked breathlessly.
I could hear the smile in his voice. “Pure angels don’t need to sleep, remember? Unlike some people I could mention.”
“No need to rub it in,” I wailed. “Look, I’ll have her down at the beach in two ticks, I swear.”
“Wait!” Reuben sounded panicky. “What’s that thing I say to her again? ‘Happy many returns?’ It sounds bizarre.”
Unlike me and Lola, our angel buddy has never lived on Earth, so concepts like birthdays leave him seriously confused.
I caught sight of my reflection in my crumpled PJs, and practically went into orbit! I was organising a top secret party and I wasn’t even dressed! I definitely didn’t have time to coach Reuben in human birthday etiquette. “If it worries you don’t say it,” I gabbled. “Just give her a flower or something. Later, OK?” Flinging down the phone, I sprinted for the bathroom.
I bet you’re totally confused now, aren’t you! You’re thinking, isn’t this girl Melanie like,
? She’s gone to live in Heaven, right? So how come she’s still nattering about nail varnish and parties? Isn’t that just a teeny bit, well, shallow?
I know, I
! I’ve been at the Angel Academy for almost three terms now, and I still have NO idea why I was picked to be a trainee angel. It’s not like I’d ever showed any signs of unnatural saintliness. Miss Rowntree, my class teacher, at my old human high school, thought I was a total bimbo.
Naturally, I prefer to think she was mistaken! I like to picture some celestial talent scout passing through my hell-hole comprehensive (valiantly trying not to inhale the pong of school chips and cheesy gym-shoes), when suddenly she sees
, Melanie Beeby!And it’s like, “YESS! She’s the one!!”
Don’t ask what I’m up to at this crucial moment, probably in the back of the class, sneakily texting a mate, or in the girls’ toilet agonising over my latest pimple.
But whatever sad, brainless thing I’m doing, this scout is
not fooled! With her angelic super-sight, she zooms in on me in massive celestial close-up. Closer, closer, until BINGO! She sees clear through to the real, essential Melanie, with all her unusual and unused abilities. (Qualities that were just completely
on someone as narrow-minded as Miss Rowntree.)
Ah well, I’ll probably never know how it actually happened. The great thing is I LOVE my incredible new life. And like Lola says, who says angels can’t have fun! (Lola is just her human name by the way. We only use our angel names for like, official purposes. Mine’s Helix if you’re interested.)
I met Lola Sanchez, (we mostly call her Lollie) on my first day at the Academy and we
clicked. It was like we’d each found that special best friend we’d been missing, ever since the universe began, if that makes any sense?
Lollie and I even have almost identical taste in clothes. (Though being from the twenty-second century, she is naturally that tiny bit more outrageous.) We really are genuine soul-mates. Sometimes we actually read each other’s minds. Just imagine the nightmare I’d had, trying to keep my telepathic soul-mate’s party under wraps!!
I’d been planning it for weeks. Reuben was in charge of the music. Thanks to me and Lola, he’s shaping up to be a fantastic DJ, creating fabulous fusions of heavenly and terrestrial sounds, like you would
I’d managed to persuade Mo to do the catering. Mo runs Guru, one of our favourite after-school hang-outs. They do gorgeous party food there and I wanted to celebrate my soul-mate’s birthday in style!
After the fastest shower in the entire history of showers, I threw on my bikini and matching sarong, tied a fun pirate bandana over my hair and beamed at myself the mirror. I looked delicious, even if I did say so myself!
Grabbing my beach bag, I raced down the corridor to knock on Lola’s door.
Lola opened it instantly, looking so hopeful that I felt like a real traitor. I just said cheerfully, “Hi, babe!” and all the birthday sparkle went out of her eyes.
“Oh, hi,” she said in a gloomy voice. “Did you want to borrow something?”
keeping things from Lola. But I sternly reminded myself that I only had to string my best mate along for a teensy bit longer, and gave her my brightest smile. “Actually, I was hoping you could help me out with my project?”
Lola looked more depressed than ever. “Oh, right.”
“I won’t blame you if you say no,” I wittered. “It’s going to be really boring. Mr Allbright wants me do some stupid survey for Science.”
She shrugged. “It’s not like I’ve got anything better to do.”
“You’re a star! Erm, maybe you should change into some beach clothes first,” I suggested cunningly.
Lola frowned. “What kind of survey is this?”
“Oh, who knows!” I babbled. “Mr Allbright said I had to find a rock pool. I’m meant to observe the microscopic life-forms or whatever and take notes.”
I was on safe ground here. Mr Allbright is always saying stuff like that.
Lola blew out her cheeks. “Oh, all right.” She vanished and came back wearing a bikini top, hipster shorts and a stylish cowboy hat. She struck a cover-girl pose. “Will the teeny-tiny life-forms approve, do you think?” she said in a bored voice.
“They’ll go green with envy,” I told her.
But I was starting to panic. We were running
By the time we reached the sea shore, Reuben was slumped on the jetty, twiddling his baby dreads. He sprang to his feet. “Finally!”
Lola looked surprised. “What are you doing here, Sweetpea?”
“Me?” he said innocently. “Oh, I came to help Mel.”
As a pure angel, Reuben is physically incapable of telling lies. But he’s getting really good at kind of
He jumped down into a little glass boat which was tugging gently at its moorings. “Are you girls coming or what?”
Lola blinked. “You never said anything about boats, Boo!”
“Didn’t I? Oh, duh!” I did my best airhead giggle. “Yeah, Mr Allbright said I had to check out this special rock pool which you can only get to by boat.” I secretly crossed my fingers, adding brightly. “Don’t come if you don’t want to, Lollie.”
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake,” she sighed. “Let’s all go and observe the thrilling rock-pool creatures.”
Phew! Phase One of Operation Lollie was successfully completed. I just wasn’t sure how long we’d be able to keep this up…