Chapter Forty-eight: Giving a Warning.
When we got home James walked straight into the bathroom, his body shivering. I'd felt bad since the rain grew heavier but he refused to take back his hoodie which got soaked anyway. I stripped it off and threw it in the wash with the other clothes that had been building up. Four people under one small roof was getting crowded. Though Tom had basically been staying in his room or going out.
The only reason James talked to me was because everyone else in that school either avoided him or bullied him. I couldn't understand how he could just take the shoving and side-comments. Half the time I wanted to punch Matthew on his behalf. But I had a feeling a girl coming to his defence would just make things worse.
I changed into dry clothes and checked my phone again. Two texts from Kelly asking where I was. I guess a visit had been overdue. I've never been away this long before, the most had been a week and Kelly had given me silent treatment for days after. I left my room and left a note on the kitchen side telling James where I was going. I hadn't told him much about my family, but he knew I had a human mother.
I pulled on a coat and checked my purse. Not enough for the bus, but walking didn't bother me. Thirty-two minutes later I was stood outside a block of council flats. I hesitated before opening the squeaky gate and going through the main entrance. I pressed the call button for the lift, studying my surroundings every moment I waited for the ding. I got in the moment the lift arrived and pressed level four.
The corridor smelled of a acidic mix of urine and god knew what else. No doubt drug users lived next to single parents. I knocked on our door and leaned against the wall while waiting for someone to answer. It was Kelly who opened the door. She took in my well-kept appearance and left, the door still open. I closed it behind me and did a once-over of the empty living room before going into the kitchen. Mum must've been working a night shift at the hospital.
“You texted,” I said at the kitchen doorway. Kelly was running about making something complicated looking from a recipe book. She glanced over her shoulder, her tied up dark hair swishing wildly about as she did.
“I did, a reply text would've been fine. You didn't need to drop by,” she replied. Her voice cold and distant. We'd never gotten along well. But two years ago things got worse. I knew what I was and hung out with even worse crowds than before. Kelly saw me on the street and decided to confront me about my recent disappearance. One of the spawns got over friendly, I got him to back off. But when Kelly had wanted to report it I'd denied knowledge of it happening. Since then we were half sister only in the genetic sense.
“Well, figured I'd see how you guys where doing. I also know a place you guys should probably stay, it'll be safer than this hell hole,” I said. Knowing James won't know if I sneak them into his old place. I doubted he'd mind that much if he found out either.
“With you and your friends? I'll pass,” Kelly said, her voice souring when she said 'friends'. I laughed at the thought of James being compared to some of the guys I used to hang out with.
“You'll actually like my new friends, nothing like others I've hung out with,” I replied, taking a seat. She looked annoyed by the gesture. Obviously she hadn't wanted me to hang around longer than five minutes.
“Good for them. But we're fine Annabel,” Kelly said. Using my full name just to annoy me.
“No you're not. I've caught wind of something bad Kelly,” I said. The seriousness in my voice made her stop what she was doing and actually face me.
“Then go to the police about it,” she said, concern breaking through the cracks.
“Police can't handle this,” I said. Kelly gulped and put down the tea towel she'd been holding. She also learnt two years ago what I was. She refused to believe it then and still does. But she was human, and her instincts had always told her I wasn't 'right'.
“Give me the address, I'll make mum pack when she gets back,” Kelly finally sighed. I wrote it down quickly and handed it to her. She glanced at it, surprise registering on her face. It was a pretty good neighbourhood.
“How'd you get it?” Kelly asked. She probably suspected nefarious means like drug deals or other shameless acts to gain money. Her opinion of me had never been great.
“A friend, it's empty and no one will bother you,” I explained. James' parents knew he was living with Amy and Tom now. And since James was closer they'd ask him to grab any old stuff they needed. Kelly nodded and I turned to leave. I opened the front door when Kelly spoke.
“Take care,” she murmured. I hesitated before closing the door. Both her and my mum were better off without me in their lives. Without the stress I caused them.