Chapter 6- Panic

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"I've booked out one of the drama studios for second break," declared Abby. "You have to come in today!"

"The day I left, I promised myself I'd never set foot in those school gates again," Victoria told her, flinging a hand to her forehead dramatically.

She belonged in Mrs Grove's drama studio. If she had put in the effort during her time there, she might even have been one of the top students- which wasn't easy. But as well as being fantastic at over-acting, Victoria was also extremely stubborn; and even Abby was starting to lose hope in the audition.

"Vic, it's in three days! You'll be performing in front of the magazine editors and the Teenage Talents judges- how are you going to do that if you won't even test it on old Mrs Grove and a class of amateurs?"

"It's Victoria! And no. You heard me; I'm not going back there ever again."

"Please," her sister pleaded. "The class won't be a problem, it's just Mrs Grove and the extra credit students. I'll come; Luke and Nathan will come!"

Victoria considered her; the gentle morning sunlight streaming past the faded curtains and over the tasselled handbag she'd flung across the kitchen table.

"Would I get to wear the outfit?"

Abby rolled her eyes. They truly were polar opposites. "Yes, it would be a full dress rehearsal."

"Fine. But only because you've already asked Mrs Grove. I couldn't bear not showing up and having to face her in the cafe on Saturday!"

"Then I'll see you at second break!" Abby declared triumphantly. Battles with Victoria were hard to win. She'd done well, and her blog viewers would probably think so too.

"Well," Sophie strode into the kitchen, wearing the slightly pained expression that she had been ever since Layla's incident. "I'm off to the office. No fighting, no accidents, and no shouting or arguing until eight thirty. Don't want to wake the neighbours, do we?"

"No, Mum," they chorused.

Sophie didn't notice that there was a stain on Abby's collar, nor did she notice that Victoria was supposed to have left for work. She leant over to kiss the air just above each girl's cheek and made for the front door; heels clicking on the dusty carpeting.

Abby flipped open the red notebook eagerly.

'Mum,' she scrawled, 'seems distant and cut off. Problems at work? Family life wearing her down? Has recently started taking an earlier bus. Possibly trying to get away?"

Usually being a journalist meant you had to stay cool and detached from the people you were writing about. But then again, it wasn't usually your mother. Abby snapped the book shut and tucked it into the deep pockets of her pleated skirt; away from Victoria. That wasn't one for the blog.

"Three days!" Luke thumped a large, rattling cardboard box down onto the kitchen table. "Less than fifty hours until I take home the blue ribbon!"

They peered into the box. Paper mâché balls, painted vivid reds and golds, bobbed up and down precariously from an uneven base.

"That scale can't be right," Abby frowned. "I think the planets have to be a lot smaller. Look, you can barely tell the difference in size between Jupiter and the Sun!"

Luke scowled. "I hadn't finished with the adjustments." He turned to his little sister.
"Layla thinks it's good, don't you?"

"I might do a picture of the moon," she mused, ignoring the project. "Except it would have to be white, which wouldn't show up on paper."

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