Jenny peeked under the silver paper wrapped round the Montana chocolate bar she'd found in her lunchbox , and frowned.
'My mum,' she said, 'just doesn't listen. How many times have I told her not to give me chocolate? She's just torturing me.'
'You don't have to eat it, though, do you? I'll have it,' her best friend Ellie said, a cheese and onion crisp halfway to her Peppermint Candy flavour lip-glossed mouth.
'El, that's rampant gluttony! You had my Wagon Wheel yesterday. I think you're enjoying this. You're probably on the phone to Mum every night telling her what to put in the damn lunchbox.'
Ellie giggled. 'Why don't you eat it, then? One tiny little choccy bar won't hurt. Especially if you have Diet Coke to wash it down.'
'God, Ellie, you're so dumb sometimes. That's a myth. The stupid thing will still have the same number of calories whatever I drink with it. Diet Coke isn't some kind of Philosopher's Stone of slimming, you know. It doesn't turn chocolate into lettuce or cucumber or something.' She thrust the bar toward her friend. 'Here. Have it.'
She gazed across the cafeteria. There he was: Dean Kingston, the hottest boy in the whole of Year 11, sitting with his friends, Joey and Matt, his blond spiky hair just visible above the foliage of the plastic potted plants which divided the cafeteria in two. He was the reason she was on this mission to drop a dress size, so that she could fit into the prom dress she'd bought from the Bizarre Boutique in the High Street two months ago: the form-fitting strapless gown with its layers and fronds of tissue-thin cerulean blue silk organza, which would transform her into a fairytale princess. Dean Kingston would spot her across the ballroom of the hotel the school had hired for the night for their Leavers prom, now only one week away, and be at her side the whole night. And then, forever.
The problem was, the dress was still too small for her. And her mother was conspiring to make her bigger instead of smaller. What was wrong with the woman? Didn't she want her ever to have a boyfriend?
She'd been trying it on again last night, when her mum had poked her head round the bedroom door. Never mind, love, she'd said, she was sure the shop would exchange it as long as she returned it with the labels still attached.
But Jenny wanted to wear that dress. Her dream dress. No other would do.
She bit into her apple. fiercely, as she watched Ellie chomping on her chocolate bar, her eyes closed in bliss. She put her head in her hands. What on earth was she going to do, short of starving herself to fit into the dress? The only way she was going to lose any pounds, at this rate, would be to amputate a limb.
'Hi Jen,' said a deep voice. She looked up. It was Dean. She hadn't seen him approach. 'Is that all you're having?'
'Oh, just trying to eat healthily.' she croaked, all the moisture suddenly gone from her mouth.
'Good for you,' he said. 'Well, take it easy. We don't all like skinny girls.' And then he was gone.
Jenny smiled. Perhaps she could exchange the dress, after all.