‘Oh. Emerged from your bat cave, I see?’ Lily pulled a slice of cake from the fridge as her sister continued picking at her burger, taking tiny bites. ‘God, you eat weird.’
‘I can’t do anything right by you, can I? Let me eat how I bloody well want to!’
‘For gnomes sake, touchy much!’
‘That idiot has a name.’
That idiot’s still an idiot.’
‘Just a simple question Lil,’ Freya retorted as she turned her attention back to her burger. ‘You don’t have to answer it.’
‘We went to the park, if you must know. We had been doing our English assignment, but then someone decided to listen to their stupid music at rock concert level so we went out.’
‘Oh. Sorry about that. Didn’t think.’
‘Take it your homework wasn’t going too well either?’
Freya shook her head, still concentrating on her burger. ‘Just wanted to drown it all out, really.’
‘Drown what out?’
‘So what did you get up to at the park?’ Freya changed the subject clumsily. She didn’t particularly want a d&m with her sister.
Lily’s cheeks flushed pink. ‘He asked me to the prom.’
* * *
‘So what did she say when you told her? I’m still surprised you had an actual conversation! First in over a year, right?’ Bianca laughed. The pair were studying at homework club that night; the volume of Freya’s music had reached earsplitting levels.
‘Something like that, I know! She didn’t really say anything, just took the other half of her burger up to her room a few minutes later.’
‘She’s so funny with her food, I noticed that when I had tea at yours the other week. You don’t think she’s got some sort of disorder or anything?’
‘Nah, she’s just… She always seems so distracted, like she can’t concentrate on anything. She eats plenty, she just takes her time doing it. I think the only thing she focuses on are those books of hers, she’s got a whole library under her bed.’
‘I just don’t get her! She loves reading, but she’s failing so badly at school. Strange girl! You’re definitely the good twin, Lily,’ Bianca grinned at her friend. ‘She probably just can’t comprehend the concept of dating and getting close to someone! Let’s face it, she’s been doing a good enough job of pushing everyone away for years now.’
* * *
‘Freya, honey, we need to have a little chat. Erm… What are you reading? Oh, Game of Thorns! Any good?’
‘Good, good! Now listen, about your music… It’s just getting out of hand. No-one can focus on anything and it’s shaking the house down to the foundations. You know I don’t mind you listening to your music, but there has to be a limit. It can’t be good for your hearing, it nothing else! You really need to keep it down, honey. Your father’s getting quite angry about it, he’s talking about sending your stereo away to have a volume limiter or something fitted to it. That or having it thrown out your bedroom window!’
Freya turned the page.
‘Are you listening to me?’
‘Yes Mum. I’ll keep it down or use headphones.’
‘…Right. Well… Thank you for being reasonable about this.’
Freya turned the page.
‘So how was school?’
‘Fine, thank you.’
‘Have you done your homework?’
Freya lied and turned the page.
‘Are you excited for the dance next week? Lily’s so looking forward to it! I’m so pleased she’s got a date, and Finlay is such a nice lad!’ Louise chattered away about Lily, and Freya found that she couldn’t escape into her book any more. She was dragged out a little each time a word passed her mother’s lips.
She couldn’t get away from it. The warmth in her mother’s voice when she spoke about her sister. The tone that was missing when she spoke about her…
* * *
So, Freya! Erm… We were wondering, we were going to go prom dress shopping and… Well… Do you want to come too?’
Freya looked up from her book to see Lily and her friends stood in her doorway, a look of naive hopefulness on her twin’s face and plastered smiles on those of Bianca and Chanterelle. They didn’t want her along. Not really.
‘No, it’s okay. I’m not going.’
‘Not going?!’ The three girls exclaimed in unison, the concept alien to them. It was prom. You didn’t just simply not go to prom!
‘Yeah, it’s not my thing. Have, er… fun?’
‘Oh for gnomes sake, Freya! Do you have to be so difficult? Do you actually go out of your way to not have any friends?!’ Bianca erupted as Lily stared at her sister. ‘Lily didn’t have to ask you to come with us! She’s only trying to make sure you don’t go through life having absolutely no-one, because that’s what you have, Freya Rivers! No-one!’
‘I just don’t want to go to prom!’
‘Who’re you kidding?! You’d love to go, you just don’t have anyone to go with! You read enough books about proms! About proms, and nights out, and hanging out with your friends, and everything normal people actually do! Why don’t you stop reading about having a life and just go outside and bloody well have one!’
Freya ignored the squeals of delight coming from the living room as the three girls modelled their dresses for their mothers as she waited for the computer to power on. At least Mum has one daughter she can do all the things she wants with, she thought idly.
Reading wasn’t enough any more. She couldn’t bury herself in her books any more, she couldn’t drown out the rest of the world.
She had to create a new one for herself, and she knew just the way to do it. Opening a new word document, Freya took a deep breath and began to type.