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Katie and her best friend Isis are very different from one another. Apart from the fact that Katie is a witch, and Isis isn’t, there are many more differences. Isis has a nice big house, nice clothes, and a very pretty face. Katie is not nearly so well-off in those ways. One day Katie and Isis decide to swap their lives. Katie uses her magic powers for the experiment.

Story by Bertie.

Read by Natasha.

Pictures by CaiJia Eng.

Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.


It was 9am on Monday morning, and the corridor at school was echoing with shrill voices and swarming with every type of kid – neat, scruffy, tall, dumpy, nice-mannered, plain rude, sporty, smart, not so smart, and the odd genius.

Each and every one of them was unique. For instance, who else but Katie knew the magic spell for turning brown bread into chocolate cake? And who else but Isis came to school with a brand new hair band every Monday? Katie found herself walking behind the blonde head of her best friend now. She tapped her on the shoulder:

“Nice hair band,” she said.

“Oh, Thank you,” said Isis. “And that’s a pretty hair band that you’re wearing too.”

Katie was surprised, because Isis didn’t normally compliment her on what she was wearing. “Do you really think so?” she asked.

“Yes, I do,” replied Isis. “In fact, let’s swap.” And before class, there was just time to swap hair accessories and check how they looked in Isis’s compact mirror.

The swap brightened up a dull Monday, and it was kind of nice to exchange something because, well, you would only do that sort of thing with your best friend.

On Tuesday they swapped shoes. Isis wore Katie’s solid clumpy lace-ups that were strictly school regulation issue. As she took her first steps in them, she said:

“Katie I don’t know how you walk in these without turning into Dobbin the Mule.”

And Katie tottered along in Isis’s pointy slip-ons with hints of heals. Miss Vile told her that if she ever wore them again she would be sent home to change into sensible shoes.

“That’s not fair,” thought Katie. “No teacher ever said that to Isis.”

On Wednesday they swapped MP3 players. Katie listened to Isis’s chart topping girl band music and thought it was fun to dance to for one evening, but Isis didn’t listen to Katie’s underground rock music because it was far too weird.

On Thursday they swapped books. Isis did try to read Katie’s book on famous witches in history, but it was really hard going because it was printed in strange Gothic letters. Katie read two chapters of Isis’s paperback novel about a girl who had a magic pony, but she thought it was all nonsense, because the writer clearly didn’t have any experience or knowledge of magic in real life.

On Friday they swapped watches. Katie wore Isis’s watch that had little teddy bears instead of numbers, and Isis wore Katie’s magic watch that went backwards for some reason that Katie tried to explain, but Isis simply couldn’t for the life of her understand.

But the following Monday neither of them could think of what else to swap. So they didn’t – at least, not until it was going home time. As they were crossing the school playground toward the gate, Katie said:

“I know. Let’s go the whole way. Let’s swap identities.”

“You mean like, passports?”

“No silly. Like I become you and you become me, just for a day…. oh go on, please Isis, say you will, it will be such fun, and nobody will ever know.”

“But that’s impos….” But of course it wasn’t, because Katie’s a witch and can do all sorts of things that you wouldn’t think were at all possible, although they can work out rather strangely sometimes. A moment later Isis realised that she was looking at herself … only it wasn’t herself, because she was herself, but suddenly Katie looked like Isis….

"Oh no!" she screeched ….. And then she burst into fits of giggles. “And do you mean to say I look like you?”

“Of course.”

“Oh Gross!…Oh I didn’t mean it like that, it was just a joke Katie…." But Katie wasn’t hurt because it was all too exciting.

Outside the school gate, Katie went to meet Isis’s mum in her car, and Isis went to meet Katie’s mum in her car. The inside of Isis’s family car smelt of “newness.” As Katie strapped herself into the unfamiliar soft white leather seat, Isis’s mum kissed her and asked: “Had a good day darling?” And Katie thought: “Life as Isis isn’t going to be half bad.”

And as Isis searched for the seat-belt buckle in a rather rustier and smaller car than she was used to, Katie’s mum snapped her fingers and the seat belt fastened itself up. And Isis thought: “It’s quite nice to be Katie, when every problem can be solved in a snap.”

Isis had never been to Katie’s house before. As she came in, she was amazed at the amounts of clutter in the corridor. There were so many coats, cloaks, and hats that it was hard to find a peg for her coat. And it only got worse the further she got into the house. The living room was so full of boxes, fabrics, glass jars, old-fashioned dolls, unconnected chandeliers, and piled up antique furniture that she couldn’t find the television set, let alone the remote control.

But Isis’s house was so spacious and empty that Katie did not know where to start looking for Isis’s room. She went up the broad sweeping staircase and found that there were six doors and two more floors to the top. Then she remembered that she still had Isis’s book in her school bag. She took it out, and said: “Book, which is Isis’s room?” and the book said: “Third door on the left.”

Over in the other house, as Isis went upstairs, Katie’s mum called out: “Katie, can you switch on the crystal ball and see if you can find Solomon? He hasn’t been back since he went for a walk last night and I’m starting to get worried about him.”

“Sure Mum,” Isis called back. She knew that Solomon was Katie’s cat, but she had no idea where the crystal ball was, let alone how to switch it on. She explored the three rooms upstairs. One was the bathroom. One had a double bed. The other was clearly Katie’s room, because her school books and clothes were strewn all over the floor. A crystal ball sat among the pens and piles of paper on Katie’s dressing table. She examined it, looking in vain for an on-off switch.

In Isis’s bedroom, Katie was trying on her friend’s tortoise shell sunglasses. They fitted so perfectly over her pretty, slightly turned up nose. She looked into the mirror and thought:

“It’s not hard to be popular with a face like this.”

Meanwhile Isis was looking into Katie’s mirror and couldn’t help sniggering, because even though Katie was her best friend, her face was kind of funny.

Katie searched through Isis’s wardrobe for something simple to wear around the house but she couldn’t find anything at all suitable. Not the black baby-doll dress, not the tennis outfit, not the emerald floor length silk party dress, not the jodhpurs, not the skiing pants, not the silk scarves or pashminas, not… not anything really.

Isis was changing into one of Katie’s hooded running shirts. She wouldn’t be seen dead in one normally, but since she looked like Katie, it sort of suited her.

When Katie came down for dinner wearing a pristine white shirt, she found her place around the dining table that was as long as a swimming pool and Isis’s mum said: “I called Miss Vile and she agreed to change your B+ for Geography to A.”

“My goodness. How did you manage to mellow Miss Vile?” asked Katie.

“Oh, I used my powers of persuasion,” said Isis’s mum. And Katie thought different mothers had different powers. Her own mum would never think of trying to make Miss Vile change her grades, even though she could easily put a magic spell on her.

And when Isis sat down at the kitchen table in Katie’s house, Katie’s mum said: “Did you manage to track down Solomon on the crystal ball?”

And Isis put on Katie’s puzzled expression and said:

“No, I can’t see him anywhere.”

And Katie’s mum looked worried and said that it was really unusual for him not to come home for dinner. She ladled out the witch’s broth into a bowl. Isis looked at the lumpy green liquid and thought: “Will she believe me if I say I’m not feeling well?”

Meanwhile Katie was looking at three wafer thin slices of parma ham and half a skinned avocado on her white plate and thinking: “Is that it?” A moment or two later her plate was empty. Isis’ mum asked:

“Anything else dear?”

“Any chance of some ice cream?” asked Katie.

And Isis’s mum turned as white as vanilla and exclaimed: “Ice cream? You’ve never asked for that before. It’s full of sugar. You’ll get spots!”

While at Katie’s house, Isis had finished her witch’s broth, and found that it was quite tasty really, and it gave her a nice warm, full feeling inside. Katie’s mum brought her a cornet with a large round ball of mint-chocolate chip ice cream and she thought: “Yum Yum.”

It was a very happy Isis that went upstairs to Katie’s room after dinner. She thought to herself that Katie’s mum really was a sweety, even if she was a witch. And there was a nice surprise waiting for her on her pillow - Solomon. “Naughty cat,” she said. “You had us all worried.” She picked him up and was about to call out: “Mum, I’ve found him,” when Solomon let out a screech and scratched her nose.

“AHHH…” she called out, and Solomon streaked downstairs. As she examined the damage in the mirror she thought: “Well at least it’s Katie’s nose he scratched, not mine.”

Meanwhile, in Isis’s bedroom, Katie was doing her friend’s homework. It was full of horrid maths problems, and she was far too excited to sit down and concentrate, so she used a quick magic spell. At home, she wasn’t allowed to use magic for her school-work, but well, she wasn’t at home, and besides, this was Isis’s work, and it had to look ever so neat. She changed a few answers to make them wrong, otherwise the teacher might suspect something was up.

And Isis sat at Katie’s table, and tried to do some scrawly handwriting that looked like her friend’s. She made sure that there was an ink blot on the page because that’s what Katie’s work normally looked like.

Later on, Isis sat in bed wearing Katie’s psychedelic pyjamas, and opened up Katie’s diary. All the pages were blank.

“I bet she uses invisible ink,” she said to herself, and she thought for a long time about what the magic password might be. Somehow, with the witch’s broth inside her tummy, she thought she might have some magical inspiration. “I know,” she said. “It’s catnip!” And in an instant, all the pages were covered in Katie’s messy handwriting. She turned the corners avidly looking for remarks about herself, but most of it seemed to be about somebody called Paul.

But Katie was reading Isis’s diary, and she found that she only filled it in about once a week, and then it was usually to say something about her pony. She picked up a pen and wrote:

“Today I did a big swap with my best friend Katie who is an extremely clever witch.”

In the morning, Isis tried to comb her hair, which was of course Katie’s hair and far more tangled and knotty than her own. It was really quite painful. And Katie looked in the mirror at Isis’s face and thought:

“It’s nice to be a blonde.”

She slipped on Isis’s pointy shoes and was pleased to think that Miss Vile wouldn’t send her home to change them because Isis could get away with so many stylish things that she couldn’t.

When the two friends saw each other at school, at first they couldn’t help giggling, but then Isis said:

“Hey Katie, that shirt’s not tucked in. And look at this; your tie’s not straight. And as for your... I hair, couldn’t you find my comb? Now that you’re me, you’ve got standards to keep up. You can’t go around looking like a scruff when you are wearing my identity.”

And Katie said: “Why did Solomon scratch your...I face? If you’ve been nasty to my cat, I’ll kill you!”

And they would have quarrelled more, only Miss Vile came into the class room and they had to sit down at each other’s desks and keep quiet. At break-time they both avoided each other. Katie hung out with Isis’s friends, and Isis didn’t quite know who to hang out with, because Katie didn’t have nearly as many friends as she did. She went for a walk by herself around the playing field, and on the way back to the class room she met Rachel, a tall girl from the year above, who said:

“Hey Katie, have you been out collecting toads?” which was the sort of nasty thing that some people said to Katie quite often.

As Isis shook her fist, the girl said sarcastically: “Oooh–ooh, don’t put a magic spell on me.”

Meanwhile Katie was listening to Samantha and Isabelle chatter on about which soap stars were going out with which footballers according to Hot Gossip magazine.

“Sometimes,” thought Katie, “It’s just a bit boring being Isis.” And she began to see that having perfect looks, perfect clothes, and a perfect house could become a bit of a pain after a while.

And so at lunchtime, the two friends hugged each other, and Katie whispered the magic reverse-spell to turn them back into themselves.

“Oh, that’s a relief,” said Isis, as she looked at her pretty hands and neatly cut fingernails.

“Well I’m kind of comfortable in my own skin too,” said Katie. And she thought to herself that although there was a lot to be said for being somebody else for a while, if only to get a new view on life, you could only really be happy as yourself, imperfections and all.

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