Lectures are the worst things in the world but soon enough Christmas comes around and I'm going back to my family's house. We're not going to my grandma's house or anything, we're just staying home and I really can't bear the thought of that. I'm permanently in an exhausted, dreary mood right now from missing Ed and spending all of my time in my dorm room. I'm not up for forcing conversation with my parents or acting cheery for Junie. It's one of those times where I want to just run and hide.
When I get there a week before Christmas and we start that week off with an awkward family dinner. Junie told me a couple of weeks ago on the phone that they're arguing over money and then that just escalated. I find myself getting angry at my parents. Why don't they just split up? All they're doing is putting Junie through it all. The worst part is that I expected to see Junie's eyes welling up and her lip wobbling but she just looks bored. She's so used to this now, it's just something to be angry about constantly.
We both escape upstairs as soon as possible.
"God that was awful." I say, curling up on her bed.
"Mhm." she says, rifling through her wardrobe. "I hate it."
I frown. "What are you looking for?"
"Something that doesn't make me look like a sausage."
I laugh. "Why?"
"I'm going to meet this guy from my class tonight."
I raise an eyebrow, glancing at the clock. "It's eight o'clock already, are you allowed out that late?"
She shrugs. "They're not going to know about it."
I sigh, sitting up. "Junie-"
"Don't give me the whole big sister speech." she laughs a little. "I know what I'm doing, I know what's dangerous and what's not. Just please cover for me."
I reluctantly agree and she heads out (of the window) an hour later. I can't help but worry about her. I suppose this is her rebellious phase but I never felt like Junie would have one. I guess she just resents Mum and Dad now and wants to get away from them. She isn't the little sister I've always known. She isn't the delicate, sensitive girl who always seemed a bit young for her age. She's now this young woman who is breaking rules and meeting boys. She's changed and I missed it all but it isn't like she's just grown up. She's changed and I don't think it's for the better. I've been putting off talking to my parents about their behaviour but Junie's given me a bit of an ultimatum. At the end of the day, they don't seem to be noticing what's happening to Junie and I'm left to make sure she's okay.
I walk downstairs into the living room and they're both talking in hushed, angry tones. I was tentative at first but now I sigh heavily, shutting the door hard. I just don't care anymore. I've lost Ed, Junie's sneaking out to meet boys. I don't have a lot to lose by yelling at my parents.
"This has to stop." I tell them.
My mum sighs wearily. "What, Daisy?"
"You two arguing!" I exclaim. "It's been going on for months, why don't you just do something about it?"
"How do you know we've been arguing?" my dad frowns.
"Because Junie has been phoning me every day crying about it!" I yell, so frustrated with them. "What the hell are you even arguing about?!"
They look at each other and both sigh. My mum gestures to the chair opposite the couch and I take a seat, my heart pounding.
"When married couples have money problems, it gets a bit too stressful. No matter how fine they were before, money just... takes charge, I suppose." Mum says.
"Daisy, we can't really afford Cambridge." Dad says. "We can't afford your tuition, all of your living costs and equipment and things like that."
I frown at them. "You want me to quit?"
"No!" Mum shakes her head. "That's why we've been arguing. For you to quit... that's the last thing we want. So we've been trying to figure it out. And we'll keep trying to figure it out. You just... don't worry about it. Keep studying, keep working. We'll figure it out."
"Okay." I nod. "Just please stop acting so cold with each other. It's ruining Junie. Try and act normal."
I go back upstairs and cry. It's my fault but what can I really do? They told me not to worry, not to quit. I think the issue is that I feel like I'm the one being responsible and I'm being the adult. I'm just left to trust them to get themselves together.