"He'll grow," said Abby and pulled her pyjama bottoms
up again before she got into bed. They were always falling down.
In the morning Abby jumped out of bed and switched on the light in her
Gerry, the fat orange goldfish, was dozing inside the stone archway.
Jaws was already awake, swimming along the front of the tank with his
white tail floating and twitching. It took Abby a while to find Mr.
Sticky because he was clinging to the glass near the bottom, right next
to the gravel.
At school that day she wrote about the mysterious Mr. Sticky who was so
small you could mistake him for a piece of gravel. Some of the girls in
her class said he seemed an ideal pet for her and kept giggling about
That night Abby turned on the light to find Mr. Sticky clinging to the
very tiniest, waviest tip of the pond weed. It was near the water filter
so he was bobbing about in the air bubbles.
"That looks fun," Abby said. She tried to imagine what it must be like
to have to hang on to things all day and decided it was probably very
tiring. She fed the fish then lay on her bed and watched them chase each
other round and round the archway. When they stopped Gerry began
nibbling at the pond weed with his big pouty lips. He sucked Mr. Sticky
into his mouth then blew him back out again in a stream of water. The
snail floated down to the bottom of the tank among the coloured gravel.
"I think he's grown a bit," Abby told her Mum at breakfast the next day.
"Just as well if he's going to be gobbled up like that," her Mum said,
trying to put on her coat and eat toast at the same time.
"But I don't want him to get too big or he won't be cute anymore. Small
things are cute aren't they?"
"Yes they are. But big things can be cute too. Now hurry up, I'm going
to miss my train."
At school that day, Abby drew an elephant. She needed two pieces of
expensive paper to do both ends but the teacher didn't mind because she
was pleased with the drawing and wanted it on the wall. They sellotaped
them together, right across the elephant's middle. In the corner of the
picture, Abby wrote her full name, Abigail, and drew tiny snails for the
dots on the 'i's The teacher said that was very creative.
At the weekend they cleaned out the tank. "There's a lot of algae on the
sides," Mum said. "I'm not sure Mr. Sticky's quite up to the job yet."
They scooped the fish out and put them in a bowl while they emptied some
of the water. Mr. Sticky stayed out of the way, clinging to the glass
while Mum used the special 'vacuum cleaner' to clean the gravel. Abby
trimmed the new pieces of pond weed down to size and scrubbed the
archway and the filter tube. Mum poured new water into the tank.
"Where's Mr. Sticky?" Abby asked.
"On the side," Mum said. She was busy concentrating on the water. "Don't
worry I was careful."
Abby looked on all sides of the tank. There was no sign of the water
"He's probably in the gravel then," her mum said. "Come on let's get
this finished. I've got work to do." She plopped the fish back in the
clean water where they swam round and round, looking puzzled.
That evening Abby went up to her bedroom to check the tank. The water
had settled and looked lovely and clear but there was no sign of Mr.
Sticky. She lay on her bed and did some exercises, stretching out her
legs and feet and pointing her toes. Stretching was good for your
muscles and made you look tall a model had said on the t.v. and she
looked enormous. When Abby had finished, she kneeled down to have
another look in the tank but there was still no sign of Mr. Sticky. She