Part NineteenMature

They ask about my family , and I tell them who lives in our house, adding that sometimes our nan comes 'round to stay.

"That's it?" Judo asks. "There's eight people in our house. It's chaos."

"Yeah, that's it. I don't think I could cope with more. I'd never sleep with all the cooking and cleaning and looking after Seb."

"So are you like a parent then?" Judo says. "'Cause I've heard that-"

"Judo," Daniel warns him.

I object. "No, I want to know. What have you heard?"

"We don't think it's true," Evan says, "But someone said that your mum's a druggie."

I shake my head. "No. She's an alcoholic. But Seb says he wouldn't be surprised if she did take drugs."

"Does he talk to you a lot, then?"

"Judo," Daniel warns again. "How is Seb, anyway? I haven't seen him for a while."

"I've seen him talk," Seamus says. "He talks to Lola at lunch sometimes."

He and Judo then go into a conversation about how often Seb talks, which I find quite amusing. Trish puts in a comment here and there.

"I'd say he's fine," I talk to Daniel, "But he's really not. He needs to eat and he just won't. It's not helping him at all."

Daniel sighs. "Well, just so you know, you're not the only one who's worries about him. I'm his friend. He used to tell me stuff that he made me promise not to tell you. He thinks you're too young to understand, but I think you're mature enough."

Evan then looks at me. "There's something me and Dan are worried about with Seb. We haven't told anyone for fear it'll give him another count"

"He hasn't told me directly," Daniel says. "But he's dropped me a few unintentional hints."

They both hesitate and share an uncertain glance.

I look from one to the other rapidly, begging desperately with my eyes.

"A lot of Seb's scars," Even says. "They're not counts... we don't think they are. We don't think it's bullying that put them there."

I know what they're getting at, but I still don't speak. I need to hear them say it.

Daniel takes both of my hands in his. "Lola... we think Seb is harming himself, and if he is, it could be really dangerous."

The End

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