It was a cold, December morning. I got up and quickly dressed before scurrying outside before my mother got up. She hardly knew I was alive. She sent me off to a school with very long hours and sent my to Grandma's over the holidays. She never got me anything. If I wanted to avoid her, I had to get up very early.

She adored my brother, Andre. She also goes to his school things. He's three years younger than me. I often think that I hate him for it but I can't be. He's never done anything wrong. He's so sweet. He has short light brown hair and green eyes like mum.

It was frosty but that didn't faze me. I wandered out, down the road and towards the old market. Of course, there's no market there now, it's just called that because there used to be. I loved it there. No one ever went there because they were scared of the spirits. It lead up to an old burial hill. It was always silent. You could see for miles. Right to the other side of the city and far beyond. It was my favourite place in the whole of Ellith. I was away from all my worries back at home such as my problem with sport and geography and Mrs Carlin pestering me to sing in the choir. I can't help it if I'm brilliant at singing and if I want to keep it quiet why can't I?

By now I was at the base of the hill. I started the steep climb, singing Dancing Queen under my breath. I realised that there was no one here to comment, it was 4:30 in the morning, and soon I was singing my heart out. It was then, as I reached the top of the hill and I was shouting out the last chorus when I noticed something that made me stop in my tracks. A tall, queer figure, all dressed in black down in the valley on the other side of Iola hill, the one I was standing on. When it saw me, it darted away and disappeared. I found out, later what it was but that I shall explain another time.

I held back a shriek and ran home. Unfortunately, mum was sitting at the kitchen table reading the lilonika lokka. She looked up and smiled.

'Hello dear.' she said. I was confused, very confused. She hadn't spoken so kindly to me since the day I won a singing compotition three years ago. She looked back to the paper, her short black hair (why was it black? her parents both had blond hair but maybe her grandmother's mother had black hair?) hung over her eyes.

'Your grandmother is coming over later, she and I wish to talk to you. Do you know somewhere private?' she told me.

She wanted to speak to me? That was a first. A first in two months in fact. That's how long it's been since we last spoke.
'Sure. Yeah. Okay.' I answered, puzzled.

'It's your birthday,' she comtemplated, 'Your twelth in fact.'
'I got you a present.' I was stunned. A present? I hadn't got one in years. I hardly knew what the word meant.

Mum stood up and went to a high up cupboard in the corner of the room. She reached up for a small box. It was old and battered but still in tact. She put it down on the table. I starerd at it.
'Well open it then!' she urged. Why was she so nice all of a sudden!

I opened up the lid. Inside I found an old dress, slightly faded but still beautiful. The type I'd always wanted.
'Oh mum! It's beautiful!' I exclaimed.
'Look what else there is.' she instructed

And sure enough, underneath were more rare beauties. There were blue pearl earings, badges from places like morocco and brazil, and a flute. A flute. Why? I coudn't play flute? I loved flutes but I coudn't play one. Ah well, my mother woudn't know that. Iwould have to ask her later because that was when Andre came bounding down the stairs.

'CARLY!' he screamed 'Happy birthday Carly!'
He thrust a lumpy package wrapped in blue tissue paper into my hand which I carefully unwrapped. Inside was a notebook and a small leopard plush toy.
'I couldn't find an Ocelot, I'm sorry.' he admitted.
'Don't worry, I love it Andy!' I beamed.

I have to admitt it is pretty cute and I still have all these years later. And I love notebooks. I love drawing and writing and making lists. He knows me so well.


The End

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