When Talli had arrived home a couple of nights before, her ear and face were thick with blood, it had coagulated and stiffened in strands of her hair. A faint bruise had blossomed around her cheekbone and eye-socket; the yellowy green of her skin was emphasised by the olive and hazel flecks in her eyes.
Evie had squealed in disgust and terror as Jayce held the disorientated Talli at the porch of the house. Maggie, their foster mum had beckoned Jayce to bring Talli in, concern creasing her brow.
‘What happened? Natalie?’
Talli had felt sick and groggy but still managed to pull a face of disgust at the use of her full name.
‘Nothing. It’s fine. Don’t fuss.’
Talli had shrugged off Jayce’s hold, and barged into the house, leaving him to explain. He lied and stated that they’d got caught up in a bar fight; nothing to do with them.
Now Talli was out again, probably getting drunk, fighting, and doing drugs and having unprotected sex with everyone. She will be pregnant with everyone’s babies, Evie thought, and then laughed out loud at her own ridiculousness.
Evie plumped her pillows. Three times each.
Downstairs a door slammed. No doubt it was Talli, Evie thought. Maggie had probably passed out on the sofa after she drunk herself into a stupor hours ago. She imagined old episodes of American sitcoms playing to themselves in the front room, and made a mental note to use that as ammunition the next time Maggie complained about electricity bills.
The door from the hall way opened and the familiar sound of canned laughter washed up the stairs, tinny and fake. The slight listing of tell-tale floor boards gave Talli away, even though she had undoubtedly calculated the quietest route through the house.
‘You’re late.’ Evie ambushed Talli by her bedroom door. Talli glared; her eye slightly less puffy than it had been the days previous.
‘So where have you been?’
‘So why are you late?’
‘Bus was late, why do you care?’
‘Maggie was crying again earlier.’
‘What do you think?’
‘It’s been two years.’ Talli scoffed.
‘So? Move on. Get over it.’ Talli walked away down the hallway. Evie flinched slightly.
‘Do you ever think about Mum and Dad?’ Evie said. Talli stopped and looked back.
‘What’s the point?’ Talli disappeared into her room.
Evie experienced a flood of memories and emotions. Regret. Vulnerability. Remorse. Failure. She slipped back into her room and puffed in and out slowly in an attempt to control her heartbeat.
‘You don’t even have a job!’ She screamed through the wall.