Chapter Four

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Mum's sitting at the kitchen table when I slip in through the back door - my plan to sneak in and avoid her foiled

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Mum's sitting at the kitchen table when I slip in through the back door - my plan to sneak in and avoid her foiled. When she sees me, she screams.

"Willow! You're bleeding. What happened?"

She leaps out of her chair, rushing towards me, scouring my body for the cause of the blood.

"It's not mine, it's not mine..." My voice is coarse. My throat sore from the screaming and hours of talking to police and ambulance crews - all slack-jawed with disbelief that Jensen didn't have a scratch on him. They couldn't find the source of the blood that had formed a puddle in the road and soaked into my clothes.

Mum leads me to the table. I don't resist. I'm exhausted, my body aches, and my limbs feel like jelly. I allow myself to be guided to a chair. She sinks back into her seat beside me.

"Are you OK?" she asks slowly, using her nurse's voice. I avoid her gaze, focusing instead on my hands, but there are rust-coloured flakes under my fingernails and my stomach lurches. The scent of blood and car fumes and dirt is clinging to my clothes and making the sensation worse.

"There was an accident. Outside of school. A boy in my year... Jensen, he was hit by a car."

She nods, beckoning me to continue.

"Was he OK?"

I swallow, looking up and meeting her worried frown. How do I answer that?

"Yeah... he was fine. He just got up and walked away. He's fine."

Her lips purse and once again she takes me in, scrutinising my hair, my face, my clothes.

"That's a lot of blood for fine. We need to get you cleaned up."

Mum stands, wiping her hands on her jeans. As she moves to the sink, I notice the large glass of wine on the table. The empty plate was scattered with chocolate crumbs.

"Date didn't go well then?" I rasp, grateful for something else to focus my attention on.

She sighs. Wetting a cloth and bringing it over to me. The cold water feels reviving against the hot and clammy skin on my face. As she pulls back, I see stains of red on the white cloth. I can't take any more blood. I shut my eyes tight, but all I can see is Jensen's body; the light catching the whites of his eyes as he flew over the car, the red gossamer strands wrapping around our hands, and Henry's face. The terror in his eyes.

"No... not really. I could tell straight away he wasn't interested. Sort of ruins the next couple of hours." She chuckles sadly. "Your dad used to say there was more of me to love. I guess not everyone sees girls like us the same."

Girls like us.

My head hurts. There's a throbbing behind my eyes, growing and growing by the minute. I do not need to think about my weight right now. Mum and I have the same shape, same extra pounds in places it's good to have them, and a few more in places it's not. And whenever a date goes badly, or a relationship ends, somehow it always comes back around to weight. I groan and lean closer to the table, burying my aching head in my hands.

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