13th July 2009
Next morning I woke up with a crick in my neck and a very sore back from falling asleep on the windowsill. Surprised I had got any sleep at all, I slipped off the sill, steadying myself against the wall when I discovered my legs were still asleep. I staggered down the two flights of stairs towards the kitchen, still not feeling quite awake. Rupert was sitting at the wooden table, his hair unbelievably messy and a woolly jumper pulled over his pajamas. It was clear he had only just got out of bed too.
‘Good night?’ I waved my head in a non-committal fashion as I searched the cupboards for some cereal. ‘Over here.’ I thanked Rupert as he held out the box of cereal to me and began my search for a clean bowl. ‘So are you going to talk to Dad today?’ I stopped what I was doing, stunned momentarily by my brother’s directness.
‘I’m not sure.’ I shook a healthy helping of Corn Flakes into a bowl and added more milk than was necessary.
‘I’m only asking because I don’t think I can take much more of this Evie.’ I slowly chewed on my first spoonful of cereal, not looking at my brother. ‘I’m always playing the messenger between you two and I hate it.’
‘Well it’s not just my fault is it. He’s just as much to blame.’
‘I know that but you’ve got to let it go. He’s not going to change.’
‘So I have to do what he wants?’ I slammed my bowl down on the side, spinning wildly to look at Rupert with fire in my eyes. ‘This is exactly why we keep having these arguments. I can’t be the person he wants me to be and I’m not going to sacrifice who I am to please him.’
‘For Christ’s sake Evelyn,’ Rupert almost shouted, pushing away from his chair so hard it hit the floor with a crash, ‘this isn’t all about you. Dad has given up everything for us and all you can do is throw a tantrum and say it isn’t good enough, that he should try harder to make your life as perfect as possible. Well I hate to break it to you, but the world isn’t like that. You don’t get ‘happily ever after’s’. There isn’t some handsome prince waiting to carry you off into the sunset. You have to live with what you are given and that is what Dad has been doing ever since we moved here.’
I was shocked into silence. Rupert was the one who kept his emotions in check, despite his stressing and worrying. Such a loud outburst was so unlike him. I wasn’t sure what to say.
‘I’m sorry.’ It was all I could manage. ‘I didn’t realize you felt so strongly about it.’
‘Well, surprisingly, someone has to keep a cool head when you two are having one of your fallouts, and seeing as there isn’t anyone else around to deal with it, it has to be me.’ I could sense a hint of bitterness in his voice as he started clearing away his bowl.
‘We need to get away from here,’ I muttered to myself, thinking I was the only one who would be able to hear me.
‘And who would stay and look after Dad?’ Rupert’s voice was getting louder and angrier again. ‘You might be able to run away without a second thought, but I can’t.’ I could feel my own anger at being trapped here bubbling up inside me, desperate to retaliate against what my brother had just said.
‘I’m going out.’ I put my bowl down on the work surface as calmly as I could before heading to the wooden stairs leading to the rest of the house.
‘That’s right Evelyn, run away from anything you can’t cope with.’ Rupert’s voice was filling up with hate and I could feel tears pricking the corners of my eyes. ‘That’s the truth, isn’t it, why you want to escape. You can’t cope with Dad so you’re just going to detach yourself from him so you can walk away from here and never come back.’
I forced myself to keep walking, up the first flight of stairs and then the second, into my room and closing the door behind me.