"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 snail.
"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 TV 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 went downstairs.
Her mum was in the study surrounded by papers. She had her glasses on and her hair was all over the place where she'd been running her hands through it. She looked impatient when she saw Abby in the doorway and even more impatient when she heard the bad news.
"He'll turn up." was all she said. "Now off to bed Abby. I've got masses of work to catch up on."
Abby felt her face go hot and red. It always happened when she was angry or upset.
"You've hovered him up haven't you," she said. You were in such a rush you hovered him up."
"I have not. I was very careful. But he is extremely small."
"What's wrong with being small?"
"Nothing at all. But it makes things hard to find."
"Or notice," Abby said and ran from the room.
The door to the bedroom opened and Mum's face appeared around the crack. Abby tried to ignore her but it was hard when she walked over to the bed and sat next to her. She was holding her glasses in her hand. She waved them at Abby.
"These are my new pair," she said. "Extra powerful, for snail hunting." She smiled at Abby.
"And I've got a magnifying glass," Abby suddenly remembered and rushed off to find it.
They sat beside each other on the floor. On their knees they shuffled around the tank, peering into the corners among the big pebbles, at the gravel and the pondweed.
"Ah ha!" Mum suddenly cried.
"What?" Abby moved her magnifying glass to where her mum was pointing.
There, tucked in the curve of the archway, perfectly hidden against the dark stone, sat Mr. Sticky. And right next to him was another water snail, even smaller than him.
"Mrs. Sticky!" Abby breathed. "But where did she come from?"
"I'm beginning to suspect the pond weed don't you think?"
They both laughed and climbed into Abby's bed together, cuddling down under the duvet. It was cozy but a bit of a squeeze.
"Budge up," Mum said, giving Abby a push with her bottom.
"I can't, I'm already on the edge."
"My goodness you've grown then. When did that happen? You could have put an elephant in here last time we did this."
Abby put her head on her mum's chest and smiled.
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