Read Alfie All Alone Online

Authors: Holly Webb

Alfie All Alone

For Alice, Max and Georgie

“Evie, did you put these in the trolley?” Evie’s mum was staring at a packet of rice cakes, looking confused.

“No. Why would I, Mum, they look horrible.” Evie made a face. “It was you, don’t you remember? You said they might be nice to nibble on when you were feeling sick. But I bet they’ll just make you feel even more sick.”

Her mum sighed. “You’re probably right. She smiled apologetically at the assistant who was waiting for them to pay. “Sorry. I seem to be a bit forgetful at the moment.”

The girl smiled back. “That’s OK. My sister’s pregnant and she locked herself out of the house twice last week. How long until the baby’s due?”

“Another nine weeks.” Evie’s mum sighed. “The time just seems to be creeping past at the moment.” She patted her enormous tummy.

“Mum, can I go and look at the noticeboard?” Evie asked. She was getting a bit bored with baby talk. Ever since her mum’s bump had begun to show, complete strangers had started talking to them in the street, asking
about the baby. They always asked Evie how she felt about having a little brother or sister, and she was sick of having to smile and say she was looking forward to it. She was, but the fussing was starting to get on her nerves. And she had a horrible feeling that it would get a lot worse after the baby arrived.

“Of course you can. Actually, Evie, see if anyone’s selling any baby stuff. It would be a good way to find some bargains.”

Evie sighed quietly. Honestly, did Mum ever think about anything else? She wandered over to the big board behind the Customer Service point where they put up the advertisements. You could find some really fun things sometimes. Once she’d spotted an
advert for a pair of nearly new roller blades that someone had grown out of – she’d been able to afford them with her pocket money, and they were great.

She browsed through vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, a girl offering to babysit – and then caught her breath in delight. The next ad was larger than some of the others, and it had a photo attached – a basket of the cutest little white dogs, all clambering over each other. One of them was grinning out at Evie, a naughty glint in his eye.

Call Mrs Wilson on 295561

Evie sighed adoringly. That puppy was gorgeous! She had to show him to Mum. She looked back over at the till to see if she was done yet. Her mum was looking round for her, and Evie waved, and then dashed over.

“Come and see! You’ll love it. Anyway, you shouldn’t be pushing that on your own, Mum, Dad would be really cross.” Evie helped her mum with the trolley, giving her a stern glare.

“Dad is a fusspot.” Mum chuckled. “What am I looking at?” She stared at the board, trying to work out what
Evie was so excited about. “We’re not buying a trampoline, Evie,” she said, grinning. “And we definitely don’t want a speedboat!”

“No, look, I just wanted you to see this cute photo.” Evie pointed out the basket of puppies. “Aren’t they sweet?”

“Oh, yes, they’re lovely. What sort of dog are they? Westies…” Mum gazed thoughtfully at the photo. “Westies are quite small dogs, aren’t they?” she mused quietly.

Evie nodded. “I think Mrs Jackson down the road’s got a Westie. You know, Tyson? He’s gorgeous.”

“Mmmm.” Evie’s mum nodded. “OK. I suppose you’re going to insist on pushing this trolley now, aren’t you? Actually, Evie, do you want to go and
look at the animal magazines – I have to go to the loo again.” She sighed theatrically. “Don’t move from the magazines, I’ll only be a minute.”

As soon as Evie set off, her mum scrabbled hastily in her handbag for a pen. Then she made a note of the name and phone number from the puppy advert on her till receipt, and hurried after Evie.

As they drove home, Evie gazed out of the window, day-dreaming about puppies. She had no idea that her mum was sneaking glances at her every so often. Over the last few weeks, Evie’s mum and dad had been worrying about
how the new baby was going to affect her. After all, eight was quite old to suddenly have a new baby brother or sister. Evie seemed to be happy about it, but it was difficult to tell. They’d been wondering what they could do to stop her feeling left out, and it was only the day before that Evie’s dad had thought of getting her a puppy. Her mum hadn’t been too sure.

“Won’t it be a lot of hassle, just before the baby comes?” she’d worried.

“We’ve got a few weeks. And the point is that Evie would be doing all the looking after – it’ll give her something to fuss over when we’re fussing over the baby.” Evie’s dad was really enthusiastic. He liked dogs, and he knew Evie would love a puppy.
After all, a puppy had been at the top of her Christmas list for the last three years. Her parents had always said she wasn’t quite old enough – mostly because Evie’s mum thought having a dog would be a lot of work. But Evie’s dad had been trying hard to convince her, so the Westie ad had turned up at the perfect time.

“What are you thinking about, Evie?” Mum asked her, smiling. “You’re miles away.”

Evie grinned. “Just that lovely dog. I know we can’t have a puppy, but if we did, I’d like one just like him…”

Evie’s dad got home just in time to help make dinner, and Evie told him about the little white dog as she was setting the table.

“Puppies? For sale now?” he asked thoughtfully.

Evie saw him exchange a glance with her mum and caught her breath, her eyes widening in sudden hope. She looked back and forth between them. Her dad was grinning. “Funny you should spot that ad today, Evie. Your mum and I were talking last night. We’ve been thinking about getting you a dog and just now seems the right time.”

Evie could hardly believe her ears.

“You mean it?” she breathed delightedly.

Mum nodded. “If you think you can
look after a dog properly. It’s a big responsibility.”

Evie nodded so hard she made her neck ache. “I know, I know. I can!”

Mum smiled. “So, shall I ring the lady with these puppies? You’d like a Westie?”

Evie just gaped at them. She’d wanted a dog for so long, and her parents had always said, “Maybe,” and “Perhaps when you’re older.” Then she suddenly realized what her mum had just said and squeaked, “Yes! Yes, please!”

Evie hardly ate any tea. She watched her parents eating impatiently, and when her dad had swallowed his last mouthful of pasta she snatched the plate away to put in the washing-up.

“Hey! Evie! I was going to have seconds!” He smiled. “OK, OK. Let’s put you out of your misery.”

Evie waited anxiously while her mum called the number. What if all the puppies had gone? After all, they didn’t know how long the advertisement had been up there. She sat on the stair listening to her mum. It was horribly difficult to work out what was going on, but eventually her mum said, “Great. Well, we’ll come round tomorrow morning. Thanks!” and then she put the phone down and beamed at Evie.

“I’m getting a puppy!” Evie gasped, jumping up and down in excitement. “I can’t believe it! I have to go round and tell Gran!”

Evie’s gran lived a couple of streets away, with her own two dogs, Ben the spaniel, and Tigger, who was a greyhound cross with crazy stripes. Evie heard them barking madly as she rang the doorbell. She grinned to herself. She couldn’t wait to introduce Ben and Tigger to her new puppy!

“Guess what, guess what!” she gabbled as Gran opened the door. “I’m getting a dog!” She didn’t manage to say much after that as Tigger was jumping up and trying to lick her face.

“Down, Tigger! Stop it, silly boy, it’s only Evie, you see her every day!” Gran shooed the dogs away and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on. “Darling, did you say you were getting a dog?”

“A puppy! Mum and Dad are giving me a puppy – we’re going to pick one out tomorrow morning.” Evie sighed blissfully. She wasn’t sure she could wait that long.

Gran looked confused. “But … just before the baby arrives?”

Evie nodded happily. Then she leaned over the table, lowering her voice as though she were telling secrets. “They didn’t say, but I think it’s to make me feel better about the baby,” she explained.

Her grandma nodded thoughtfully. “Well, everyone would understand if you found it difficult, Evie, you know that, don’t you?”

“Gran, you know I’m really looking forward to it.” Evie laughed. “And now
I’ll have a puppy as well!” She beamed at Gran, expecting her to be really excited. But Gran was stirring her tea thoughtfully. “What’s the matter?” Evie asked, frowning.

“Nothing, Evie. It’s lovely news. It’s just…” Gran sipped her tea, thinking what to say. “I’m just wondering if this is the right time. With the baby coming. A new puppy will be a lot of work, you know.”

Evie shook her head. “Don’t worry. I know about looking after dogs from helping with Ben and Tigger, and Dad knows loads about them too.” Evie bent down to scratch Tigger behind his ears, so she didn’t see her gran’s worried face. “I’ve wanted a dog for so long! I still can’t believe it’s really
happening!” Evie gave Tigger an excited hug. Tomorrow she was going to meet her own puppy for the first time!

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