I run the local writers group. The SWWG (The Sheppey Womens Writers Group). We meet once a month on a Tuesday evening. Recently, we've started to take it in turns to think of a theme we can write about before the next meeting. The theme for May is childhood. This is my offering so far...
Jessica was sitting in her favourite place, on the window seat in my bedroom. Jessica's bedroom was bigger than mine, but mine had the best view. My twin's room overlooked the front of the house: the garden; the road; the field beyond. Mine overlooked the cliffs. If you craned your neck to the left, pushed your nose right up against the glass, you could just make out Hade's Bottom.
Most days it annoyed me. The way Jessica flounced into my room - without even knocking - and plonked herself down on the window seat, as if it were her indisputable right to do so. Today I wasn't bothered. I was glad of her company, surly as it was.
I was sprawled on the floor on my tummy, trying to complete a seemingly impossible jigsaw puzzle. I hated jigsaw puzzles. But I was bored. It had been raining for most of the morning and I had lost interest in my book.
I glanced at my sister.
Jessica sat half turned away from me, legs tucked up beneath her slender body. Pale face in profile. Her dark, almost black curls, outlined in a halo of daylight. She was very pretty, my sister. She had inherited the strong Irish features and colouring of our father.
My colouring was an insipid mixture of mother's mouse brown hair and father's Celtic skin. I always looked ill. Peaky. Even though Jessica and I were twins (I was the eldest by six minutes), Jessica always looked so much older than our twelve years. So much more alive. Which was ironic really. All things considered.
Jessica must have felt my gaze on her. She turned to face me and poked out her tongue, crossing her cobalt blue eyes at the same time. I grinned. Screwed up my nose in retaliation. The next instant we both directed our gaze towards my shut bedroom door: brisk footsteps could be heard trip-trapping up the stairs.
Jessica put her finger to her lips and closed the gingham curtain that was draped around the window seat with a dramatic whoosh of fabric. Hiding herself from view.
There was a sharp rap on the door.
"Amelia?" It was our mother. "Are you in there? Can I come in?"
I threw a glance in Jessica's direction. Her body was a vague shadow behind the curtain.
"What do you want" I said.
The door opened and my mother stepped through.
She had always been a small woman, petite I suppose you'd call her, but since the incident two months ago she had become frail. Like a bird. As if her bones were hollow and might snap at any moment. Violet shadows encircled her eyes.
"Amelia, I've just got off the phone from Auntie Nessa. She's coming round this afternoon. She asked if she could bring Sophie. I said she could. I know Sophie's a bit young...but I thought...I didn't think you'd mind."
I shook my head. I didn't mind a bit. But Jessica would. She hated our cousin Sophie. Jessica said Sophie reminded her of one of those old-fashioned china dolls: all gold ringlets, baby blue eyes and rosebud mouth.
Jessica said she could as soon as slap Sophie round the face as look at her.
"Good. That's settled then." I watched mother's eyes flicker towards the window seat. She opened he mouth as if about to speak, then changed her mind and walked out of my room, pulling the door closed behind her.
Hearing the click of the latch sliding into place, Jessica swept aside the curtain.
Her face was set and grim. Her dark eyes gleamed with anger. Without so much as a glance in my direction she stomped from my room, back taut and rigid.
I heaved a huge sigh. turned back to my jigsaw.
TO BE CONTINUED...