We used to enjoy baking cakes, Vere and I. We'd never use a cookbook. We'd test our memories and just bake a cake as and when we felt like it, with whatever ingredients as happened to be in the house. There were some interesting combinations, and some humourous events too, such as when the cake mixture curdled beyond repair, or when the flour exploded in my face, or when we forgot the sugar, or when we mistook the salt for baking powder, or when we made a vegetable cake with tomatoes and beetroot, which happened to be in the larder at the time. Mum never joined in, knowing that when we were baking she was not welcome, but afterwards she'd spend ages cleaning the kitchen and restoring it to its immaculately spotless state. Dad would be the first to sample our cooking, being both brave and the proud owner of taste buds of iron. He used to love cooking. Maybe he should've been a chef. He liked everything. Well, most things. When it came to our cooking there was no saying.

We played games out in the yard out the back sometimes: basketball or badminton; whatever came to hand. We improvised games, too, such as blueball, which was a combination of football, tennis and volleyball, and lost a number of balls in the process. We cooked outside, often, in old mugs, using grass and flowers and soil, and mixing it all up with manky water collected in the empty orange flowerpot over a period of years, using old paintbrushes.

In those days Vere had friends round. Lots of them, but not at once. I liked most of them, excepting India Cleveland, who teased me and called me 'chubby cheeks'. I hated that, for my cheeks aren't that chubby, and I never used to be very fat. Just these last few years, exercise has been a form of forbidden joy to me; so I don't do more than I can help. I've been to the gym three times this week, though. Lost two pounds already.

It used to be sunnier in those days too. The Douitchurch people blamed the change on global warming, and the winds from the Arctic, but I blamed it on the blue-cloaked murderer. I think it's Vere's absence that makes the winds blow and the sun hide. She'll never come back, though. Never come back to be the sunshine and the rainbow of our home and our world. So we must live forever in darkness. That's why I can't reconcile myself. She won't come back. Ever.

She's happy, though. Said a figure in a nightdress, who appeared to me on Christmas Day. Little girl; Aileen, she said her name was. Said some funny things. Looked kind of angel-like, white and ghostly. Probably a ghost. I believe in ghosts. Course I do. I wish Vere would come back to me; give me intructions again on what to do and how to live my life. I just don't know any more. If I ever did.

Deanna Macpherson. Her fault. She got me wondering. Horrible traitor. Can't wait to get my own back at school in a few days. Revenge. That's all I want. Isn't it, isn't it? Ghost of the nightdress girl, answer me. Revenge. All I'm good for. All.

The End

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