Dear Mr. Pratchett,
For every word.
Dear Mr. Pratchett,
For every word.
If you live in a cricketing country then you’ll probably have heard of the sad passing of Phil Hughes. Whether you follow the cricket or not, the loss of a young man in such a random way is heart wrenching, and the grief of people from all walks of life and across generations is a powerful example of our shared humanity.
Personally I don’t follow the cricket, the only thing more boring is golf and televised parliamentary sittings, and it would be wrong of me to pretend that I knew anything of Phil Hughes’ career. But I do know the impact he had on my husband, a man known for his reserve, who is a true cricket fan and an avid fan of Phil Hughes. A man who was truly shocked, stunned and saddened by Phil Hughes’ unexpected death.
From an authors perspective, it’s interesting to observe human nature and behaviour at times like this and, when emotions are new and sharp, to notice feelings and thoughts that you might otherwise have ignored. It’s an education to see how shared grief (or shared joy, fear, anger etc.) is expressed both publicly and on a personal level.
From a persons perspective my heart goes out to Phil Hughes’ family and friends and also to Sean Abbott and his friends and family who are undoubtedly going through a difficult time.
When I was a kid, probably about ten or eleven, my mum sat on the hard wooden floor in my bedroom and read The Lord of the Rings to me and my younger brother. For much of the book I sobbed my little eyes out. From the moment Sam has to leave the pony, through each harrowing description of death and deceit, I balled. Gandalf falling into the Abyss? Almost. Broke. Me.
And that’s why I love the Lord of the Rings. Because it had me by the heart.
Little Woman is my favourite book of all time (that may say something about me) and when Beth dies…I can’t talk about it.
The Animals of Farthing Wood…a group of animals making their way across England to a wildlife sanctuary. What could go wrong?
The point is, getting emotionally involved in a story is what makes it worth reading. In many of the books and programs that my own children now enjoy conflict of any kind is kept to a minimum. Races always end in a tie. Arguments always end in an apology. Naughty, rude, little
piggies characters always end up gently reprimanded and then jump in muddy puddles
But I’m looking forward to the day when we can enjoy a good book together…and cry over it.
p.s. Thanks Mum, by the way.
The plaintive, cat-like, calls of a hungry baby intruded on Zoe’s dream. She opened her eyes slowly, looked at the glowing red digits of her Hello Kitty alarm clock and groaned. No wonder it was still dark, it was only a few hours after midnight. Somewhere in the house there were footsteps, the creak of a door and then silence. With a sigh, she rested her shaggy blonde head back on the pillow and went back to sleep.
Four hours later Zoe woke again, this time to a room bathed in a light. With a yawn, she swung her legs out of the bed, negotiated the minefield of dirty clothes, library books and lost homework, and made her way to the kitchen where Jane and Daryl were already sitting at the kitchen table.
“Morning Mum,” she yawned again, slid into a seat, and helped herself to a bowl of cereal, “were you up a lot with Chelsea?”
“Did we wake you?” Jane asked, shifting the chubby baby onto her other breast where she suckled noisily.
Zoe shook her head, her mouth too full to answer, and pointed meaningfully at the empty chair next to her.
“In the lounge. James’s been up for hours.”
“What are your plans for today?” Daryl asked, folding his newspaper and taking Chelsea from her mother, balancing the baby over his shoulder and patting her back firmly.
“I’m meeting Amity and we’re going to the pool,” she glanced at the clock, “she’ll be here soon.”
Her stepfather hid a grimace behind his mug but Zoe could guess what he was thinking, “I know you don’t like her…”
“I just think you deserve better friends,” he answered with a shrug.
Zoe rolled her eyes, “I have to go get changed,” she said, rising from the table.
“Zoo Zoo? Put your bowl in the washer,” Jane called out but Zoe had already disappeared into her room.
She pulled on a pair of yellow bathers, scowling at her flat chest and gently rounded figure, and snapped a quick picture with her phone, immediately sending it to her friend. Within seconds a pinging sound alerted her to a response and she glanced as at the screen as she eased herself into a pair of jeans.
“I ws goin 2 wear yello. Plz? Luv u.”
Zoe sighed and changed into her old blue bathers. She finished dressing, ran a brush through her hair and tossed her phone and purse into a bag where they joined a tampon that had shed it’s pink wrapping, an empty chewy packet and a fluff encrusted lip gloss. Finally, she found a towel in the linen closet and headed for the front door, just in time for the door bell to announce Amity’s arrival.
“See ya mum,” Zoe called out over her shoulder.
“Bye love, have a good time.”
Zoe pulled the door closed behind her but Amity seemed reluctant to leave. She tugged at her dark ponytail and hovered by the door, “Do you think your mum would drive us?”
“What? It’s a five minute walk,” Zoe replied, incredulous.
“It’s so hot already and I’ll get blisters,” she whined, pointing at her new plastic sandals in explanation.
Zoe laughed and grabbed her friend by the wrist, tugging her away from the house, “Mum was up all night with Chelsea. C’mon.”
Amity shook herself free from Zoe’s grip and stomped ahead, her arms crossed. With a wry smile Zoe trailed after her, knowing that Amity would eventually get bored and pull herself out of her sulk. She plodded happily past the houses in her street, letting her fingers trail against the flowers that bobbed their heads over the fences, and relished the warmth soaking into her skin. With a grunt Amity fell back and linked arms with her, their disagreement forgotten.
At the pool they spread their towels out on the grass and began pulling off their clothes. Zoe had her t-shirt pulled over her head when she heard Amity laughing, “Nice bathers,” she said with a snort, “They’re almost see-through on your bum,” she squealed. Zoe blushed.
“Well, I was going to wear my yellow ones but…” she pulled herself free from her t-shirt and gaped at Amity dressed in her red bikini, “you said you wanted to wear yours.”
Amity looked down at herself and shrugged, “Sorry, I changed my mind. Mum says yellow makes me look a bit sick. Don’t I look hot in these?” she walked to the pool and dived in before Zoe could say anything further.
Of course it was easy to forgive Amity, Zoe thought that night as she wrestled off her wet bathers and threw them into the dirty clothes basket, she’d known her pretty much her whole life. She twisted the taps on the wall and the shower juddered to life, sending a stream of warm water cascading over her body. She was just lathering up her hair when there was quick knock on the bathroom door and Jane’s head appeared around it.
“Can I stick Chelsea in with you?” she asked.
Zoe nodded and accepted the squirming, naked, bundle into her arms. She swished the giggling baby under the rushing water and then held her so that it flowed over Chelsea’s soft, smooth, back.
“You’re such a beautiful baby aren’t you,” Zoe cooed at her adoring sister.
“Just like you were at that age,” Jane added, reaching in and pulling Chelsea out of the water, “Thanks Zoo Zoo. Dinner’s about ready.”
“No worries, I’ll be out in a minute.”
Later, Zoe would wonder why that shower didn’t seem more important, why she didn’t take longer in there with her baby sister. She’d only been asleep for a few hours when voices seeped into Zoe’s dreams. Reluctantly she surrendered to wakefulness and sat up in bed. She could hear crying, her mum’s voice and then Daryl’s and then footsteps in the hallway outside her bedroom. Light crept under her door.
Rubbing her eyes Zoe pulled herself out of bed and shuffled into the nursery. Her mum was sitting in the middle of the floor, her shoulders hunched and shaking, her blue dressing gown spread around her like a shabby towelling cape. Chelsea was in her arms, limp and grey skinned, her lips outlined in blue.
“Mum?” Zoe’s voice cracked.
“She’s dead,” she whispered, not looking up.
Zoe collapsed to her knees, crawled across the cold wooden floor and nestled into Jane’s side, her perfume still hung faintly about her. Tentatively Zoe lay a trembling hand on Chelsea’s chubby leg. She felt so cold.
Zoe passed a plate of ridiculously small sandwiches to James and ruffled his brown hair. He gave her a weak smile and slid along the bench a little, making room for her to sit down.
“When do you think we can go home?” he asked, sniffing a sandwich and putting it back on the plate.
“I don’t know,” Zoe answered. Her eyes felt dry and swollen, “I can ask Aunt Mary to take you home, if you like?”
James shook his head and pulled his DS from his jacket pocket. Zoe sighed and went to find her mum.
“I think it’ll be a lot worse for Daryl than Jane. After all, she’s got two other children but Chelsea was his first.”
Zoe stopped, her body zinging with shock as the speakers noticed her and moved quickly away. She scanned the room and saw Daryl standing with some of the men he played cricket with, he looked tired and thin. She had never really thought of herself as not being his child. She’d been six when he and her mum had moved in together and, even though she saw her dad every weekend, Daryl was the one who was there for all the important moments, buying her ice-cream when she had her tonsils out and grounding her when she stumbled in drunk from a party when she was 14.
She continued on, pushing her way through the small groups of people, exchanging sad smiles with friends of her mum. She skirted around the trestle table laden with food and saw her grandmother talking at a group of woman, her voice lowered in a conspiratorial way.
“Of course men don’t have a lot to do with the baby at that stage do they? He’ll probably find it hard to understand just how she’s feeling that’s why…”
Zoe pushed down a stab of irritation and moved away from the group, finally sighting her mum sitting in the corner. To her surprise Amity was hovering at her shoulder.
“Hello Zoo Zoo,” her mum said, reaching out and drawing Zoe towards her. She wrapped an arm around Zoe’s waist.
“I’ll just go get you another cup of tea,” Amity said, looking pointedly at Zoe and disappearing into the crowd.
“Sorry mum, I…”
Her mum shook her head and smiled reassuringly.
“James wants to know when we can go home.”
Amity reappeared balancing a cup of tea and piece of cake on a saucer. “It was a nice service,” she said.
Zoe thought back to the packed church, her mum’s strangled sobs and Daryl’s grim face as he carried the tiny white coffin to the hearse, the daisies on top glowing like jewels in the too bright sunshine.
“Um, yeah. I’m going to check on James,” Zoe replied. She heard Amity tut as she walked away but decided to ignore it.
Deep, bone jarring, snores echoed around the house. Zoe pulled her pillow over her face but it made no difference and she threw it across the room in frustration. She marched out of her room and into the kitchen, flicking on the humming fluorescent light and jumping back in surprise.
“Jesus! Mum, what are you doing in here? You scared the… you scared me.”
“Sorry. I couldn’t sleep with your grandma’s snoring and I’m so sore…you know,” she nodded at the breast pump in her hand. Zoe blushed.
“Do you want a cup of tea?”
“No, I’m ok. I know it’s hard to sleep but why don’t you go back to bed? I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Night Zoo Zoo. Love you.”
Back in her room Zoe grabbed her laptop from the desk, slid back under the doona, and flicked it on. The glowing screen cast weird shadows over the walls and she shivered.
A few quick taps at the keyboard brought up her Facebook page. There were some condolence messages but for the most part her friends seemed to have gone silent on her, unsure of what to say or do. Amity had updated her status though. Zoe felt vaguely sick reading it, “So sad today.”
She scanned the comments the statement had received, pausing with a jolt as one caught her eye, “I don’t know where Zo was but I thought someone should be with her mum.”
Zoe felt a bitter taste rise in her mouth. She shut the laptop with a snap and carefully slid it onto the bedside table, then she found her IPod, jammed the headphones into her ears and curled into a tight ball, tears sliding down her cheeks.
“You’ve finally decided to join us then?” Zoe’s grandmother said, looking up from her bowl.
Zoe rubbed her eyes and gave the older woman a weak smile.
“It was a big day yesterday, a bit of a sleep in wouldn’t hurt her,” Daryl said from behind his newspaper.
“Well, no, I suppose you’re right,” she said with a sniff, “When does school start again Zoe?”
“Mmm,” her grandmother appeared to be thinking about something, she pursed her thin scarlet painted lips and tapped her manicured nails on the side of her mug. Zoe felt her stomach tighten.
“Is it difficult to get from your father’s place to school?”
Zoe eyed her grandmother warily, “No.”
“Mum,” Jane warned.
“I just think it would be good for everyone if the children went and stayed with Jeremy for a while.”
Zoe grunted, picked up her bowl, and took herself off to the lounge room where James was engrossed in the cartoon characters flashing across the screen. She curled into an armchair and slurped the rest of her breakfast from her bowl. There was something lumpy underneath her bum and a bit of investigation brought out a squashed, greying, baby’s comforter. The corners were frayed from hours of being lovingly stroked and the stuffed elephant head seemed to have a wistful expression. She tucked it into her dressing gown pocket and pulled out her phone.
There were five messages, all from Amity.
“Wanna cum 2 beach”
“Plz. R u angry with me”
“Call if u wnt 2 cum”
“Going @ 10”
Zoe glanced at the clock on the wall. It was already eleven, Amity would be long gone now. She felt relieved but quickly texted a selfy, her mouth drawn down in an exaggerated frown. Her phone pinged.
“Lazy cow. Get dressed ;)”
Jane appeared carrying a chipped Bambi mug which she passed to Zoe.
“That’s ok. Look about…” the doorbell cut her off. She sighed and headed for the door. Zoe could hear her fiddling with the deadlock and then, “Jeremy?”
Zoe’s head whipped around.
“Hi,” she could hear her dad step into the house, “sorry we’re a bit late.”
“Late for what?”
“Glenys called last night. She said that you and Daryl wanted to talk to us…” he sounded confused, “Jesus Janey, don’t tell me…”
Jane flew through the lounge room and into the kitchen. As the discussion became louder, Daryl made a hasty retreat.
“G’day mate,” Jeremy said, giving Daryl an awkward pat on the shoulder, “how you holding up?”
“Ok. You know. Thanks for all your help organising…”
“Don’t mention it,” Jeremy interrupted, running a hand through his thinning blonde hair. He gave Zoe a warm hug and squeezed James’s shoulder reassuringly. Belinda, his second wife, trailed after him. There was a sticky purple hand print on her t-shirt but the culprit was nowhere to be seen and Zoe guessed they’d left her half-sister with a babysitter. She smiled. Her family was unusually well-adjusted.
The argument in the kitchen was carrying clearly into the adjoining room now and everyone milled around awkwardly.
“Um, why don’t you go get dressed Zo and your dad and I will take you both out for the afternoon. Would that be ok?” Belinda asked.
“Yep. I’ll just be a minute,” she disappeared into her bedroom and then appeared a few minutes later. Gratefully she followed her dad and stepmother out of the house while the voices in the kitchen rose another octave.
“So, is your gran still at your place?” Amity asked, shoving her books into her locker and hoisting the waistband of her skirt a little higher.
“Yep. It’s not exactly how I wanted to spend the end of the holidays, listening to mum and grandma go at it.”
“I know what you mean. My dad took me fishing all week,” a cheerful voice joined in. Zoe smiled at the slender redhead next to her.
“I don’t mind fishing…but all week. Um, I heard about you little sister, I’m so…”
“Jesus Tracy,” Amity interrupted, stepping in front of Zoe, “don’t be such a frigid bitch. C’mon Zo, we’ve got science first up,” she dragged Zoe away, leaving Tracy stammering and blushing in front of her locker.
Morning classes dragged on painfully, Zoe was feeling claustrophobic and deeply alone by the time she’d stuffed her books back in her locker and found her lunch box. A couple of girls cast curious glances her way but, like everyone else that day, disappeared around th e corner without speaking to her.
She loitered in the breezeway, waiting for Amity to emerge from the girls toilets, and rearranged the contents of her lunch box. The cucumber sandwich, bottle of water and carrot sticks were a none to subtle hint from her grandma about her weight. Someone stopped next to her and she looked up expecting to see Amity.
“Justin, hi. How were your holidays?”
“Not bad,” he shuffled his feet awkwardly and pulled at his school tie, “I just thought…I sort of know what you’re going through, you and your family. I just want to say, if you need someone to talk to. You know.”
She smiled, “Thanks, that’s really nice of you. I…” she trailed off as Amity stepped into the corridor and frowned at her. Justin followed her gaze, gave her a quick hug and walked away.
“What the…he’s got a girlfriend you know?”
“Huh? So, we were just talking,” Zoe replied, furrowing her brow.
“Look, I’m your friend so don’t take this the wrong way but just coz you’ve had a bad time lately doesn’t mean you can act like a slut.”
“I’m just saying. I know you’re grieving or whatever but that doesn’t mean you can turn into a moll.”
“Christ Amity, we were just talking.”
“Whatever,” she flounced away.
Zoe watched her go. Her throat felt thick and she couldn’t swallow, tears burnt behind her eyes. She’d never felt so alone.
The house was quiet when Zoe arrived home and dropped her bag next to the front door. She went to find Jane but, on hearing the muffled sobs coming through the bedroom door, retreated into the back garden instead. James was already there, his back against a tree, his DS beeping furiously. He flicked it off as he saw her approach and she sat down next to him with a sigh, pulling her skirt lower to protect her legs from the itchy dry grass.
“What’re you doing out here?” she asked.
“Avoiding grandma. You?”
They sat in silence for a while. Her phone pinged in her pocket but she ignored it.
“How’re you going?”
James shrugged, “I miss Chels.”
“When do you think grandma will go home?”
“Dunno. Soon I hope. Do you want to go live with dad?”
“I don’t want to leave mum and Daryl. Then they wont have any of their kids here.”
She nodded and put an arm around him, “You’re a really good guy. Even if you do stink.”
“I don’t stink!”
“You do. You stink bad. Oh, yuck. I can’t breathe, it’s so bad,” she laughed, shoving him playfully.
Daryl came through the door, “Come in you two. Dinner’s ready.”
“What’re we having?”
“Yes!” James scrambled to his feet and trotted towards the house with Zoe close behind.
Inside Jane and Glenys were already sitting at the table. Jane’s eyes were pink and puffy and Zoe kissed her gently on the head.
“Hello love. How was your day?”
“Pretty good,” Zoe lied, helping herself to a slice of pizza.
The conversation ebbed and flowed around the table. Zoe had just begun to relax when Glenys pushed her plate away and cleared her throat.
“Zoe, have you been in your room since you got home?”
Zoe narrowed her eyes, ” No. Why?”
“I think you’ll find it’s a little improved on how you left it this morning, that’s all.”
“Mum, what have you been up to?”
Zoe pushed back her chair and bolted into her room. The floor was spotless, her posters had been removed from the walls and her desk was neat and orderly. She gasp, frozen to the spot, and then began pulling open her drawers and cupboards. Even these had been tidied. She ran back into the kitchen.
“Where’s all my stuff?” she demanded.
“All the rubbish is in the bin, the rest is put away neatly.”
“What about my posters? How do you know what was rubbish and what wasn’t?” she said, struggling to breathe.
“I just assumed that anything left on the floor, or screwed up or covered in filth was rubbish. It’s just that describes most of what was in your room.”
Zoe’s world seemed to shrink. Somewhere she could hear her mum arguing with her grandma but it sounded a long way off. Then she remembered something. She ran back into her room and began pulling the blankets off her bed but there was nothing there. She ran back into the kitchen, her pulse racing.
“There was something in my bed and now it’s gone. Where is it?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Where is it!” she screamed, tears spilling on to her cheeks.
Glenys looked taken aback, “I put you bedding in the wash, that’s all. It’s in the machine.”
Zoe turned and tore into the laundry, wrenching the washing machine door open and pulling the wet sheets onto the floor. Tucked amongst the folds of material she found it, Chelsea’s comforter, damp but uninjured, the elephant looking a little squashed but otherwise fine. She buried her face in the cool, damp, material and sobbed uncontrollably. She felt arms encircling her and then heard her mum’s soothing voice, “Shhhh, baby girl, shhhh. It’s ok. It’s all ok.”
Zoe had just shut her locker door when Tracy came up beside her. She hesitated and then said, “I’m really sorry about yesterday, I didn’t mean…”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. Amity was just being a bitch,” she said with a shrug.
“Oh. Um, do you want to sit with us in English? Amity said you needed some time alone but,” she shrugged, “you know, If you want.”
“Yeah, that would be nice I…”
Amity stormed over to her locker, threw her books in and slammed it shut. Her eyes swiveled between Tracy and Zoe and then she flicked her hair behind her and stormed away. Zoe sighed.
“What’s with her?”
“I’m not sure but I’d better go see. See you in English, ‘kay?”
She hurried away and caught up with Amity sitting on a bench in the quadrangle. She sniffed when Zoe sat down beside her but didn’t get up and leave.
“What’s wrong?” Zoe asked, trying to keep the frustration from her voice.
“I’m meant to be your best friend.”
“You are my best friend.”
“Yeah right. Just coz all these other people want to know you because of what happened to your sister, you’ve started to push me away.”
“That’s not true. You called me a slut,” Zoe threw her hands up.
“I’m just trying to look after you.”
Zoe sighed, “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad.”
“Not everything is about you, you know.”
“I know, I’m sorry.”
Amity looked at her, her eyes shiny with unshed tears, and then smiled, “Ok. I forgive you. Sit with me in English?”
“I already said to Tracey I’d sit with her. Why don’t you sit with us.”
Amity’s smile dissolved into a scowl and she stood up, “Stuff you. I hope your happy when everyone realises what a two faced cow you are and you’re on your own.”
“Amity!” Zoe called but the other girl didn’t turn back.
Zoe was exhausted when she arrived home. Amity had spent the day giving her dark looks and she knew that people were saying things behind her back. All she wanted was a hot shower and a sleep.
Daryl was sitting on the front step. He tried to hide the cigarette in his hand but it was obvious that Zoe had seen and he gave up with a wry smile.
“I didn’t’t know you smoked,” she said.
“I don’t usually. Only when I’m a bit stressed. How was school?”
“Wanna talk about it?”
“How was your day?
“Want to talk about it?”
“Nope,” they laughed and then Daryl stood up and then went inside together.
“We’re up here,” Glenys called back. Zoe sighed and headed for the nursery. She stopped in the doorway, a chill wrapping itself around her body. Daryl came up behind her, “What the hell? he asked.
The nursery was empty. Chelsea’s cot and toys were all gone, the pictures of her that had been on the wall, the teddy bear that Zoe and James had given to her when she came home from hospital. Jane and Glenys stood in the middle of the room. Glenys smiled warmly at them but Jane avoided their eyes and blew her nose loudly.
“What’s been going on here?” Daryl asked, disbelief clear in his voice.
“It’s time this room got cleared out and the memories put away,” Glenys replied. Zoe thought she saw her eyes twinkle.
“You stupid…how could you,” Zoe started, stepping towards the older woman who backed away nervously, “we don’t want her to be packed away. We don’t want to forget her and move on. You have no right to come in here and do this. Who the hell do you think you are?”
“How dare I? How dare you, you wrinkled old cow. I’ve had enough of you poking your nose in where it’s not wanted. I’ve had enough of you making my mum upset. I’ve had enough of you trying to get rid of James and me and I’ve had enough of you keeping me awake all night snoring. Why don’t you JUST GO HOME?”
Glenys gaped at Zoe then she snapped her mouth shut and pushed past Zoe and Daryl. A few minutes later the front door slammed shut, a car started in the driveway and roared out of the street.
Glenys returned two hours later, quietly letting herself into the house and joining the rest of the family at the kitchen table. Zoe held her breath, she could hear her blood thrumming in her ears.
“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry,” Glenys began, she kept her eyes fixed on her hands, “I really was just trying to help. I…” her voice broke and she appeared to be pushing back tears. Zoe felt as though her heart was breaking.
“Grandma, I know. I’m sorry about what I said…”
“No, you were right. I’m just so sorry.”
“Well, you can make it up. I’ve had an idea if, if that’s all right with everyone? Could you pick some stuff up for me tomorrow and could we all meet here tomorrow afternoon”
Glenys reached across the table and took Zoe’s hand. It was cool and soft and pale. For the first time Zoe noticed the dark spots sprinkled across her grandmother’s skin. She squeezed her hand reassuringly.
“Did you get my message last night?” Tracy asked, concern etched across her face.
“Um, no. I didn’t really check my phone. We had a bit of a rough night.”
“So you haven’t heard what Amity’s been saying about you?”
Zoe slid into the chair beside Tracy and arranged her books on the desk, “No? What?”
“She’s telling everyone that you hooked up with Justin Maine. You know, he’s going out with that girl in year eleven. What’s her name…”
“That’s right. Emily. It’s all over Facebook.”
Zoe rested her head on the table with a groan. Tracy patted her on the back.
“Do you think everyone believes her?”
“Mmm. Maybe. Some people have written pretty horrible stuff,” she pulled out her phone and brought up her face book page. Zoe read through the comments that people had written underneath Amity’s status update and clutched her stomach.
Justin came into the room and gave her a confused look. She shrugged helplessly. Amity, sitting at the front of the room, saw the exchange and whispered something to the girl sitting next to her. Zoe heard the word ‘slut’ pass between them.
She felt her heart thump against her chest. As the class began she could barely hear the teacher, her voice was muffled by the fog of panic in her head.
Zoe stood up, almost without realising it, as if her legs had taken matters on themselves. The teacher looked at her questioningly.
“Can I just say something?” she heard Amity snigger and swallowed down a lump in her throat.
“My little sister died during the holidays. It’s been really hard on my family but lots of people have been really nice. Like Justin. He was been a good friend and said he would be happy to talk to me if I felt like I needed it…”
“My little brother drowned in my nan’s pool last year,” Justin cut in quickly.
“Yeah, so he thought he might be able to understand what I was going through. And now people, people who I thought were my friends, are saying stuff about us that isn’t true. Some people seem to think that I’m using my sister’s death to, I don’t know, be more popular or something, which is stupid because I would give anything to have my sister back. So, that’s all I wanted to say really, that you shouldn’t believe what people say because, I think they’ve probably got their own issues or something,” she sat down, glancing at Amity who had gone bright red.
Zoe could feel Amity hovering at her shoulder as she packed up her books while the rest of the students filed from the room and hurried to their lockers. Tracy gave her a questioning glance but Zoe nodded and she left with only a brief backwards glance.
Amity opened her mouth but Zoe cut in quickly, “You’ve been a complete bitch. If you ever want to be my friend again you will be at my house after school and you will be polite and sensitive and awesome. If you don’t come don’t bother talking to me ever again,” she picked up her books and strode from the room.
“We did this at school. Sort of, not like this but same idea,” Zoe smiled weakly at her family clustered around the table. Jane nodded encouragingly.
“So, you take a strip of paper,” she picked up a long strip of purple paper, “and then wrap it around the top of the glass with some of the paper over the top and then fold that paper in,” she folded five millimetres of paper over the top of the glass and then slid the circlet of paper off the glass. She put it on a plate and half filled it with soil. There was knock on the door and everyone looked round.
“I’ll get,” Jeremy said, disappearing from the room and reappearing a few seconds later with Amity trailing awkwardly behind him. Zoe gave her a little wave.
“Ok, now write a message on one of the little bits of paper and put it on the soil and put more soil on the top up to the rim,” she patted the soil down gently and then sprinkled some seeds on top and pushed them a little deeper into the soil, “so I thought we could all write a message to Chelsea and plant them in the garden. But you don’t have to, if you think it’s stupid or whatever.
“No. It’s beautiful,” Daryl said picking up a piece of paper.
“What seeds did you choose,” Amity asked quietly.
“Daisies. Zoe said to get daisies” Glenys answered, pouring soil into her makeshift pot.
“Oh, Chelsea’s favourites,” Jane said, her eyes shining.