Charlotte had two cups of tea sitting on the table when Lili walked into the living room and sat on the sofa with her. Lili was worried about how she was going to ask Charlotte explain, but luckily, Charlotte was not waiting for her to speak.
"It happened lastnight. Faith and Leon were round and I went out with Paul to that new restaurant, you know, near the highstreet? Well, after Faith and Leon left, which they said was around 9'o'clock, Rylee straightened her hair so it was straight for school today and then went to bed. Me and Paul came back at about half eleven. From the outside, in the dark, it just looked like her curtains were shut. we walked in the house, we could smell burning. I checked the kitchen, but everything was off. Paul looked like he was about to throw up and ran upstairs to her bedroom. I was scared, Lili, I was so scared - and then I heard him shout. I flew up them stairs," she said, indicating the stairs just in sight in the other room, "smoke was everywhere. He emerged out of her room, soot covering him head to toe, carrying something limp in his arms.
I didn't believe it at first. My Rylee? No. He was sobbing his heart out, I couldn't face it yet. It was the shock. I was making up fake stories in my head trying to cover it all up. Rylee had snuck back to your house with Faith and left a dummy in her bed to pretend she was there so she wouldn't get told off. And I was convincing myself, I really was, because that was something Rylee would have done. I could still hear the fire crackling in her room, and the smoke was getting to my throat. Paul was already carrying Rylee down the stairs, not saying a word. I called 999 and they was on their way.
Once all the fire had gone, and most of the smoke had too, I went into her bedroom. It was exactly how I had seen it last, apart from the straighteners were lying across the floor, the bedcovers were half pulled back and everything was charred and covered in black soot.
I haven't slept all night. I'm so sorry I didn't call you, I thought Faith would have told you and I still can't get over the fact that she's gone. It's awful, so awful, my little girl, she was fourteen, so young, gone forever.."
Lili couldn't believe what she'd just heard. The worst part was, she could picture it all in her head. As Charlotte had described it, the melancholy figures dragged across her mind, silhouttes in front of Rylee's brilliant red hair, dancing dully to a tune. No, it wasn't even a tune, it was more like the sound of fingernails down a blackboard, knives scraping a dinnerplate. It made her stomach churn, her spine shiver, her blood go cold.
It was a feeling she never wanted to experience in her life ever again.