At home, my Mum doesn’t ask me how the party was. She doesn’t even notice that I’ve walked into the room. I say hello to Dad, who’s sat next to Mum, before walking up the stairs.
The whisper is quick, quiet. It’s joined with a grab of my arm, and I'm pulled into a sweet-smelling room with the walls painted a light pink. Mia’s room.
“What happened?” she asks. She sits down on her bed, patting it lightly for me to join. Her hair is bouncy with a few ringlets – much like my hair. Normally it is straighter than mine, as she briefly straightens it in the morning. A small ringlet hangs in front of her face as her eyes scan mine.
I furrow my eyebrows. “Nothing. Jeez, Mia.”
“Well, no one else is going to ask in this house, are they?” she says in a snappy manner.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
Mia rolls her eyes, tucking the hanging ringlet behind her ear. She takes in a deep breath, and leans back on her hands rather than sitting bolt-straight. “You know what I mean,” she says, rather darkly.
I bite my lip. I wish I didn’t know what she means. I wish I’m a little child again, oblivious to what is going on. I wish I don’t know what’s happening at home. I wish Mia would wrap her arms around me and tell me that’s everything is fine.
“Ella-May? Are you going to tell me?”
I look up at my sister, and meet her eyes. Her eyebrows are slightly tugged together, and the annoying curl bounces in front of her face. She leans in slightly to hear what I’ve got to say. She does look concerned.
“Nothing happened,” I tell her. Although I don’t like lying – I’m not very good at it anyway – I still can’t manage to tell her exactly what happened. Besides, it’s partly true that nothing happened.
Mia sighs, “Don’t try lying with me, missy,” she says, tucking the curl behind her ear, “I know when you’re lying. Partly because you’re so bad at it.”
“Oh, and you’re good at it, are you?” I laugh. Mia is terrible at lying – even worse than I am. I knew she had a boyfriend before anyone else did.
“Oh, shut up,” Mia says, pushing me playfully. “Seriously, though, Ella-May. You need to tell me what happened.”
I look away from her, and examine her wall. I notice myself sub-consciously gently pulling one of my ringlets, which is hanging over my shoulder. “I met a boy.”
“What was his name?”
I shrug, “I don’t know.”
“That’s a weird name.”
I sigh, half-laughing, and turn my head to face her. “That’s not funny, Mia.”
“Oh, it is,” she grins. “Why else would you be laughing, hm?” she elbows me lightly, “hm?” She laughs at herself, before her face turns a little more serious. “So, you’re telling me you didn’t ask for his name?”
“No, I didn’t ask for his name,” I confirm. Mia raises her eyebrows, as if to say carry on. “We talked a lot. And we danced.”
Mia laughs, “You danced? I didn’t think Ella-May even knew what ‘dance’ meant!” I roll my eyes. When I was younger, if someone told me to dance, I’d simply lift my arms up in the air.
“And that was all,” I finish with, folding my arms across my chest.
Mia nods. “Okay, I believe you now. Nothing much really happened. Apart from meeting a complete stranger and not even knowing his name, but you know, kids these days…” Mia laughs at herself again, “But, honestly, Ella-May, you need to be careful around strangers.”
“I know,” I say, “I was careful. He’s not a stranger anymore: he’s an
Mia wrinkles up her nose and mimics me. “Whatever. Go away now, wart. I’ve heard what I want to hear.”
“You’re so nice to me.”
Mia smiles, “I know. I am, aren’t I?” The annoying curl yet again dangles in front of her face. Mia grabs it, and goes slightly cross-eyed as she stares at it, “Now you, ringlet-y thing, leave me alone, you got me? You bug me all the time. So, unless you want to be cut off, I suggest you stay behind my ear.”
“I think we need to take you to mental hospital, Mia,” I say, pretending to be scared.
“Don’t,” she says loudly, snapping, as she looks at me, “Even if you mean it as a joke, don’t say that type of thing. Don’t ever say anything like that.”