Mum turned around as I entered the room.
“Oh, Ingrid, we weren’t expecting you back tonight,” she said.
“I had a fight with the boys,” I said.
“Are you all okay?” she asked worriedly; occasionally we hospitalise each other in our ‘arguments’.
“I guess.” I looked at my uncle and aunt. “Stella, Jasper, how are you?”
“Good, thanks, Ingrid,” smiled Stella. “We were just talking about how you’re getting on in school. I hear you’re excelling in languages.”
“Je va bien,” I said.
“So you’re trilingual now?” she asked.
Uncle Jasper had a suspicious look on his face. It must have been him at the window earlier. He must have seen me. Unless it was too dark; the moon wasn’t out after all. I looked away from him.
“Come and sit down, Ingrid,” Mum said.
I dropped my bag in the corridor and sat down in between my mum and dad on the couch.
“So how was school today?” asked Jasper.
“Fine, I guess. I had an argument with Zev.”
“Your boyfriend?” he asked.
I smiled. “No. We were best friends in primary school but when we went into year seven, we were in different forms and we made new friends.”
“So who’s your best friend now?” he asked.
“Spike,” I said with a small smile.
“That’s an interesting name for a girl,” Jasper contemplated.
“I don’t have any friends that are girls.”
“Oh. Why not?”
“I don’t like them. They irritate me. I have nothing in common with them.”
“Are they below you then?”
“I never said that. I just don’t get on with them. I don’t get on with many people. Only 28 out of the 123 in my year.”
“Why so small a number?”
“I’ve grown up with a very close-knit friendship group. Many people have tried to change that: Mum, Dad, Grandma, all my teachers, just to name a few.”
“Interesting,” said Stella.
I turned to my mum. “Mum, I’m starving,” I whispered. “I’ve not eaten much for the past two days.”
“Well, whose fault is that?” she whispered back. Jasper and Dad were talking, catching up.
“Nature’s. There were some deer in town yesterday but they’re long gone. There’s nothing else big enough for everyone. It would take all night just to hunt for ourselves. That’s why we work as a group.”
She smiled sympathetically and put her hand on my knee. “Come on then. Coming, Stella?” The three of us stood up and walked out the room.
A wave of dizziness came over me and I nearly fell. Stella caught me and held my arm.
“You okay, Ingrid?”
“Yeah,” I said, suddenly breathless, “yeah, I’m all right.”
I waited a moment to steady myself. When the furniture stopped flying, I followed Mum into the kitchen. She already had some chicken drumsticks in a frying pan on the hob.
Are you okay, Ingrid? We... about you. You scared us there... like that, said Faolan in my head. It confused me at first; bits of speech were missing and he carried on like he’d actually said something. I didn’t respond.
I sat down at the island in the middle of the room. Stella sat opposite me. My eyes unfocused and I couldn’t see anything. I heard my heart pounding in my ears. It was fast and weak. I was struggling to breathe.
The room span blurrily. I fell off the chair and whacked my head against the ceramic floor. I groaned. Indistinctly, through the haze of my vision, I saw Stella and Mum crouching over me, shouting – presumably for Dad and Jasper. I saw Stella – or Mum, I wasn’t sure which – pull out her mobile and dial a number.