One more lesson to go. A whole hour that would be half an hour longer, but the fire alarm goes off.
As I make my way to the gathering ground, Seb grabs my arm.
"Seb! What are you doing? We have to be registered!" I exclaim.
He doesn't answer me, just keeps dragging me away.
"Seb!" I yank my arm from his grasp.
He sighs. "We're going home."
"No we're not. We have to be registered. What if it's a real fire?"
He turns me towards our school building, above which a plume of smoke is forming. It billows out from one of the kitchen windows.
"They can't make us go back in there," he says.
"They might think we still are."
He frowns and walks a few paces away from me, staying there for a few minutes with his back to me. Then, quite suddenly, he strides over to me.
"Lola, I really need to talk to you. In private." While I contemplate this, he grabs my arm again and leads me away.
When we get home, the front door is ajar and there are about twenty vodka bottles scattered across the porch.
Seb excuses himself from the job of cleaning it up by retreating hastily to his room.
Groaning, I go about removing the bottles from around the house. The whole place stinks of alcohol. When I open the fridge, a red liquid starts leaking out. Anyone who didn't know better would think it was blood.
In my usual routine, I pour what little remains of the alcohol down the sink and begin scrubbing its stains from the floor. I wash and dry the pots, I clean the counter tops, and I polish grease from the walls.
When the kitchen is sparkling, I shake a whole can of odour-eliminating powder on the front room carpet, followed by a container of Shake 'n' Vac and a thick layer of scented, stain-removing foam.
Then I get to cleaning the rest of the room. Washing everything with three separate bowls of soapy water and opening the windows to allow it to dry.
After that, it's to hoovering the carpet with a handheld Dyson, as it's the only hoover we own.
I chuck all the empty bottles into the bin.
The whole process takes four hours, and the furniture still isn't dry. To finish, I contaminate the whole of downstairs with a choking amount of air freshener.
I'm going to skip school tomorrow so I can disinfect the upstairs of our house.
Our mother has not appeared in the time we've been home.