I stumbled down the stairs, exhausted eventhough I'd just woken up. Mrs Briffen's eyes grew wide, bringing her broom to a rest. My vision was still clouded but I could make out that the entrance hall was spick and span. Vases were aligned in order, the massive chandelier was dusted as its light shone brighter than before and the ventilation welcomed new, cleaner air into the household. It held a deep scented aroma that smelled so good it almost choked me.


"What are you doing?" I asked, rubbing my eyes.

"Oh, just cleaning up. Damian always wants the house to be spotless on his son's birthday." Mrs Briffen answered, her expression nervous. "Awake so early?"

"I always wake up in-" My voice was muted by the loud blaring of a vacuum cleaner. It made my eyes shoot open.

A woman with a body resembling Mrs Briffen's worked the machine but it seemed like she didn't know what she was doing. The vacuum cleaner briskly shifted back and forth as the woman struggled to keep the machine under her control. She rolled into the entrance hall with the cleaner and was heading toward the procelain vases by the door. Mrs Briffen went to the rescue, sprinting over as fast as she could to prevent a disaster.


The machine's pipe was tugged away from the woman who was muttering things in French and to my amusement, the vacuum cleaner began to suck in Mrs Briffen's dress. The shrieking of the two middle-aged women echoed through the mansion and I had to bite my lip to control my laughter. The door bell rang and I was distracted from helping the distraught ladies.

I rushed to the door, expecting it to be the mailboy as he came around every Monday. I dropped the chains that sealed the door closed before pulling it open. Realisation that the mailboy could not have gotten past the front gate hit me too late. I stood frozen on the spot, unable to speak or think.

"Oh, hello." Kaylee greeted in the most effeminate voice and I noticed that the noise in the backdrop had died down.

Her smile was uneasy, strained even and she still looked pretty in spite of that. My lack of a response contributed to the growing tension between us. "Are you a friend of Harry's?" She asked and the lump in my throat hardened.

"She's my cousin." An answer came from behind me. Harry stood by me, the pressure increasing.

"Oh. She's very pretty. How come you didn't tell me she was staying with you?" Kaylee continued.

"She just arrived." Harry replied.

"She should come with us." She suggested.

"N-No." I managed to say.

"She isn't really an outdoors person." Harry added.

"It's your birthday, Harry." She nudged him playfully. "You can't spend it without your cousin."

Harry looked at me for a response. He nervously massaged the back of his neck, seemingly waiting for me to turn down the offer.

"I-I can't. I have things to do." I said.

"If you say so." Kaylee dropped it. "Where's your dad? Mine's waiting in the car. So we better make a move."


"He'll meet us there, but knowing him he'll probably be late." Harry bent down to zip his sports bag and I caught a glimpse of swimming trunks and extra clothes. "I'll follow behind with my car." Completely ignoring my presence, he strode out with the bag, the door closing behind him.

It stung me a little to know that Harry was spending his birthday with Kaylee at one of the most stunning places here. I'd only heard about the waterfalls in Crestling from my classmates in school and the words commonly used to describe the place were 'beautiful', 'romantic' and 'dreamy'. The entrance fee was sky-high but my parents had been there before and they told me it was worth every cent. They said you'd only understand the fuss made about it when you've been there yourself.


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