Lola is fifteen and already has the responsibilities of the average parent. With a brother who won't eat, an alcoholic mother and a best friend who can't stick to one personality, her life seems to be falling apart bit by bit. Not to mention the confusing girl who watches her from across the table.
At our school, all the black kids sit together. I don't know why, because we don't have to. It's just better that way. The white kids seem to have something against us. I don't know why that is either. I don't know a lot of things.
We always sit with our families, and there's normally about six or seven in the group. In mine, there's just two. Me, the one who is friends with the white girl. And Seb, the depressed one who doesn't eat.
I worry about Seb. He's really thin. So thin, he can't even hide it. I can see the shape of his ribcage through the flimsy white material of his shirt.
"Seb, you should eat your lunch," I tell him, having finished mine ten minutes ago. He doesn't say anything, just continues tearing it apart.
He's never had a big appetite, but if he doesn't eat this, he will have gone three days on only water and a bowl of cereal, and that isn't good at all.
"Seb, it's just a sandwich."
"I don't want it."
"I'm serious, Seb," I try to catch his gaze but he's become an expert at avoiding it. "If you don't eat it, I'll tell Mum."
He places the smallest piece of bread in his mouth and swallows, then goes back to destroying the rest. I coax him into eating more, but it doesn't even amount to half the sandwich before he refuses and sweeps it onto the floor.
I'm very aware of the girl who two seats along watching us. She's called Trish and she sits on the end of a group of boys she isn't related to, but that's pretty much all I know about her. I think she's a bit younger than me. Thirteen, maybe. We've never talked, but she seems to have a strange sort of interest in us.
The bell goes, and I've got English next. It's a lesson I like because I'm good at it. At first, I really hated it. The teacher always picked on me for answers, but that's what made me good at it in the end.
I don't really enjoy the over-analysis of things, but apparently I do that anyway with everything.
Apart from the confusing racism, I don't really mind school. It keeps me away from my house for six hours a day, which is good. And it gives me a different view on life.
At home it's literally chore after chore after chore and then bed. I have to get up early just to have breakfast, since I also do Seb's chores.
That's a deal we made. I will do his chores if he promises to eat three meals on both Saturday and Sunday. It was my idea, and it means that my chores include making those meals. But he needs the strength and energy, and I need the experience for when I move out.
"Miss Tarapachii, in the last five minutes, could you read out our next poem?" My teacher requests. He always asks me to read. I don't know why he likes me to read so much. I'm not exactly the best at it.
"OK," I scan it over and sigh as I quickly discover my absolute loathing of our next poem.