When Susie managed to sit down at the sofa in the living room, she expected to be spoken to. However, all the attention was lavished instead on Lindsey, her younger sister. This wasn’t really surprising. Lindsey was six years younger than Susie but was already more beautiful. That wasn’t fair. She had perfect baby blue eyes and perfect blond-brown hair that sat in curls. Her figure was small and compacted. At eight, she was still thought of as cute, but old enough to be taken seriously every so often. Already Susie was being compared to her younger sister. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Instead Susie was judged on her looks and intelligence compared to Lindsey. Somehow, Lindsey always seemed to come out on top. It wasn’t fair. Why did she have to be given the perfect sister? This of course led to fights between the two of them every so often, but Lindsey was never blamed for anything. Sisters weren’t all they were cracked up to be.
That evening though, Susie was happy. She had finally completed her perfect design of the ‘ultimate prom dress’ and her pieces of jewellery for her project for tomorrow in textiles and then later in jewellery. The two projects had been combined by her two teachers. She had made the jewellery and then smaller versions for a doll to wear. There was a head of the doll made larger, almost human head size which she had remodelled the hair and makeup to match the clothing. There was also a copy of her dress, a design made in pale pink, purple and blue silks on the doll and then a scale model which she could wear, complete with the details of a faux silk flower and the beading around the halterneck and base of the gown. She had been working for six weeks on the dress and the pieces of jewellery and she had finally finished them that night, having left the roses behind that day. She had hand sewn the last few details on that night for her show the next day. They were perfect. She put the doll in a box and the jewellery in a smaller one filled with tissue paper to take back to school. Finally, she had hung the silk dress up on her wardrobe door so she could admire it before she went to bed that night.
She smiled secretly to herself. She was going to show her parents the pieces of jewellery she had made on her along with her gown before dinner. She tried to focus on what her parents were on about. It was Lindsey’s recent results in some test or another. She saw Lindsey herself slip away after the snack to avoid the washing up but she barely even noticed. It was her turn anyway and unlike Lindsey she never got out of doing it.
Finally, it was time to show them her design. She sat her parents down on the sofa and went to put on her dress. She opened the door and gasped. Lindsey was sitting on her bed, holding the head of the doll. Susie screamed. Hair lay all around her with pieces of her dyed silk.
“What did you do?” she cried.
“I thought it would be better if it was shorter. So I cut it for you.” She held out the gown of the doll in one of her hands. Susie screamed again and slapped her sister across the cheek with her hand. She picked up her ruined gown as Lindsey ran from the room crying. Only the top half was perfect. Lindsey had ruined all the layer of perfectly dyed silk that she had spent hours on. She had about half of the remains left that she could use to rebuild the gown with, but it wouldn’t be the same. It was ruined. The head was in equally bad shape with only half the amount of hair it had began with. It had used to belong to the school as well so now she would have to buy a new one. She bit her lip and fished out of her scraps basket a few of the remains of silk. She found from her project folder the original pattern and drew it on the silk. She probably could only just recreate the pattern. She hoped. As she began to cut out the pattern that she had drawn on, her bedroom door flew open. She turned. Her parents were holding Lindsey’s hands and glaring at her.
“Susannah Cathy Reynolds!” called a voice. Susie was suddenly worried. Full names meant trouble. What did you do to Lindsey?” her mother shouted.
“What did I do? Look at what she did!” Susie cried back, holding up the ruined dress. But as normal, no one was listening.
“Look at her face! She has a big red mark across it! How dare you hurt her like that? You are grounded for two weeks!” Susie gasped. This wasn’t fair. They weren’t even listening to her. She closed her eyes. Nothing she could say would change her mother’s decision. This wasn’t fair. She saw Lindsey smiling at her. As her mother followed Susie’s gaze, her face contorted to one of pain. She began to fake cry. Susie glared at her. Lindsey had been able to cry on cue for many years now and Susie didn’t have a chance against the ‘pure’ face looking at her.
“Say sorry!” said her father. Susie looked up at him.
“Say sorry to Lindsey!” he shouted. She looked at him in surprise. Was he crazy?
“No. I didn’t hurt her, she’s only fake crying and now she ruined my project that’s due in tomorrow. It will take me all night to repair the gown and this doll’s head.” But as always, he didn’t hear past ‘no’.
“That’s it! No more T.V for a week, including the one in your room and no phone time. Your mobile is being confiscated until you apologize.” The man held out his hand threateningly. Susie looked up at him in surprise. Wasn’t she the one that was in pain? Wasn’t she the victim? Now she was being punished. This just wasn’t fair!
“No!” Susie cried and ran from her room. Thankfully her mobile was in her pocket. She ran to her ensuite bathroom and locked the bathroom door behind her. She put her back to the door and sank down until she was sitting on the floor. She got out her mobile and scrolled down the list until she found Sadie’s number.
“Sadie?” she said when Sadie answered the phone.
“Suzie?” Sadie replied in confusion.
“Ring me back on my mobile on your home phone. I’m running out of credit.” Susie then ended the call. While she waited for Sadie to ring back she looked down at the clear screen and the flowing pattern around the phone. Suddenly, the screen lit up and she quickly opened it, pressing it to her ear.
“Sadie thank god.” Susie quickly explained what had happened.
“Can I come and stay over?” Sadie thought about it
“It’s fine by me. Let me just check.” Sadie left the phone and Susie waited for her to return.
“They said its fine. Come over soon. If you bring over the project, I’ll help you finish it.”
“Thanks Sadie. You are a real friend. Why couldn’t I have your parents?”
“Because they are mine! See you soon.” They whispered goodbyes and Sadie hung up. Now it was time for the tricky part. She looked through the peephole in her door (she had made it a few years ago and it was always proving its worth). Everyone was gone and the door was closed. She ran out and then locked her bedroom door. She grabbed a bag and threw her uniform in it followed by the bag of cosmetics. Finally in went in her sleepover kit, thought up and maintained for reasons like this. Susie and Sadie each had made one for occasions like this. On the top went all her design work, including the jewellery and the dress. She couldn’t afford them being wrecked either. She grabbed her school bag, repacked it for tomorrow and then put on some shoes. She grabbed the two bags and found her coat. She slipped it on and did up the buttons. She found her ready made note for times like this, laminated so they didn’t ruin it and stuck it on the board. Already panting, she opened the bedroom window.
Susie had done this many times before but it still scared her each time. She put her bags on the extension roof and then jumped onto it lightly. She moved to the edge and clambered onto the wall. It was the perfect height for this adventure, starting the height of the extension and going down in steps until she could jump off. She ran to the end of the back garden and over the next wall. She ended up in a field. She ran across the path and pushed open a gate. She was back in a street. This was Cherry Road, a road five minutes down from her own street, Willow Avenue. She walked up the road the few feet to Sadie’s house and then up the drive. As she rang the bell Sadie opened the door.
“Come in. Was it that bad huh?” Susie nodded. Sadie smiled and took one of her bags.
“It’s almost time for tea. We’re having chicken curry.” Susie smiled. She loved chicken curry. She dropped off her bags in the hall and then took off her coat, slipping her shoes onto her space on the rack. It seemed that Sadie’s brother was home. Zach was often late home and Susie occasionally managed to steal his meal if she had to come over. He would then get beans on toast or something similar. Shame. She entered the kitchen and the smell of curry hit her. She walked up to the counter and sat down at one of the stools at the island. Sadie’s mum Serena looked over at her. She was just serving up.
“Have you already eaten?” she asked politely. Susie shook her head.
“I see. Smaller portions tonight then.” The woman began to pour out the rice into the five bowls as if this was normal. Then again, it often happened. Whenever Susie was scared and frightened, she often camped out at Sadie’s home until it had blown over. Serena always welcomed her in. Susie had become one of their family and was like a sister.
“What happened?” she asked. Susie explained quickly. The woman frowned as she poured the curry over the rice.
“I see. You know it wasn’t right to hit Lindsey don’t you?”
“Even with that in mind, I think she was more in the wrong than you. She shouldn’t have touched that. Sadie said you would bring it over to fix it. I’ll help if you want. I don’t mind cutting out silk.” Susie thanked her but refused. It was her problem and she would fix it by herself.
“Alright. Can you call Andy and Zach to the table? Where did Sadie go? Find her too please.” Susie left and went to find them. She called into the study where Zach and his father were sitting on the computer. Then she found Sadie in the living room.
“Come on. Dinners ready.”
“Alright.” Sadie was looking over the dress and the one that had been chopped off.
“At least it shouldn’t be too hard to repair.” She said sadly. She looked up.
“Alright. Alright, I’m coming.” Susie smiled and the two of them came back into the warm kitchen. Everyone discussed their days over the meal and Susie’s problem. They all seemed to come up with different solutions. Zach to be infuriating came up with the one Susie didn’t want to hear.
“You were in the wrong after all so you should apologise. It’s your fault.” She glared at him and he put his hands before his face in a cross.
“Sorry. Not enough time passed to joke yet.” She smiled and let it pass.
Later, Susie was in Sadie’s room when she heard the phone ring. She was sure it was her mother on the phone as Serena dropped her tone a notch as she passed the room. She sighed and finished cutting up the last of the pieces of silk. She had managed to just cut up the right amount for the skirt of the dress. As she sewed it on Serena came in, her hand over the phone end.
“Your mother said that she wants you to apologise over the phone to Lindsey.” Susie sighed and held out for the phone. Serena passed it over.
“Mum, tell Lindsey, tell her I don’t care and hope her face falls off for all I care! Goodnight.” Then she hung up. Serena looked over her.
“You shouldn’t have done that.” She said reproachfully.
“I know. But I did, and I feel so much better.” Serena looked over the dress.
“You have fixed it well. You can hardly tell, except that the silk isn’t dyed in the same places as on the large version. Shall I help with the hair?” Susie nodded. She dropped her needle and fished out the plastic head.
“Wow, she really tried to ruin this. It wasn’t an accident. I’ll see what I can do.” Serena took a pair of nail scissors from Sadie’s manicure set and went over to the bin to fix it. Susie wasn’t worried. While Serena was a lawyer now like her husband, she had once been a successful hairdresser for three years. She knew what she was doing. The woman opened a drawer and found of Sadie’s old hair extensions from when she was younger. She looked over the original design and began to plait them into the hair, creating a similar effect. When she tied in the silk flower, the design looked even better than the original had done. Susie finished and looked it over.
“Wow. It’s amazing.” She smiled over at Serena. “Thank you.”
“It was nothing. Compared to the people I had to work with once that was easy.” She ruffled Susie’s hair and left to put back the phone. Susie smiled and finally finished for the second time. This time around, nothing would go wrong. She left and passed the cat. She had packed everything away in boxes, including the dress so Sugar (the cat) didn’t get at it. When she went back down the family were watching a Friends rerun. Andy waved her over and she squished up on the sofa between him and Sadie. ‘This feels like a real family’ thought Susie.
Later the girls were forced to bed. Zach would follow about an hour (at least!) later. He was seventeen now and was two years older than the two of them. When they arrived, Susie grabbed her sleepover kit. It consisted of a roll filled with products to get her through the night. A pair of small pyjamas, soap and moisturiser in the travel sized bottles and two more of shampoo and conditioner. She had her set of make up brushes and a manicure/pedicure set. She even had her own serum and hair brush ready for using a set of straightners. The kit contained other useful items but she often didn’t use many more of them. She went into the spare room and then dumped off her school bag and dress items. She went back to find Sadie.
“In your room or the spare one?” she asked. Sadie thought for a moment.
“Well, I want to talk to you, but I do need my beauty sleep. Nah, I’m beautiful enough already. My room.” Susie smiled. That was of course, the right answer. They each used the bathroom one after the other. Susie went in and then cleansed, toned and moisturised her face. Next she changed clothes and then cleaned her teeth. She used her favourite moisturiser from the Body Shop in the strawberry flavour on her face and the other sort on her hands and arms. Finally she smiled at the mirror and brushed her hair through. Then she left so that Sadie could have a turn in the bathroom.
She smiled as she lit a vanilla scented candle on Sadie’s desk and breathed in the scent. Vanilla was one of her favourite scents after Neroli Jasmine and Strawberry. She had all three as perfumes which she often wore, Strawberry every day, Neroli Jasmine when she was feeling exotic or mysterious, often when she was going out with her friends or on a date (if ever!). Vanilla was reserved for special occasions such as Christmas or her birthday, or even anniversaries. Sadie joined her and sniffed at her candle. Her favourite scent was orange blossoms but loved the scent of these special Vanilla candles from a shop in Bristol. As Susie fell asleep that night, all she could smell was rich vanilla and orange blossoms. She smiled. She was safe.