chapter 5

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I took a deep breath and straightened my dress. The last time anyone had seen me in a dress was 2013. I hadn't worn a dress since, not even while I was gone, but I knew that The Bird would be sorely disappointed in me if I didn't wear one.

I descended slowly, singing softly to calm my nerves.

Much faster than I thought possible, I reached the dining room doors. Taking one last breath to keep my nerves under control, I pushed the doors open.

Everyone was already seated . The Bird was at the head of the table with Claire to her right. Next to Claire was Hugh, then the twins, and then Olive. To The Bird's left was Millard, Emma, Fiona, Horace, and Bronwyn. Enoch sat across from The Bird, at the opposite end of the table.

"Nini. How lovely of you to join us."

Oh Miss P. Why'd you have to say it so loudly? As if they had rehearsed it, every single head turned to look at me. I suddenly felt really self-conscious. Was my dress okay? Was it too short? Did I look alright? Should I have braided my hair? God I'm such a girl. I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn't notice Horace standing up and approaching me.

"How lovely to see you again Nini," he said whilst taking my hand and gently kissing it, "come take a seat."

"Horace. Nice to see you haven't changed at all," I chuckled. He led me to my seat and pulled the chair out.

"Why thank you," I said, lowering myself onto the seat.

I was seated to Enoch's left. The only available seat. I shouldn't have been so late. Dinner was strangely silent. Olive was constantly making small talk with me and Fiona chimed in a few times. Claire was quiet, and even Hugh's bees were calm for once. Enoch kept sneaking glances at me constantly. I looked up and caught his eye, making him look away quickly.

"Look everybody, Enoch's blushing," Horace teased.

"Why would I be blushing?" Enoch retorted, challenge and intimidation clear in his voice. He was indeed a bit red. Horace quickly glanced at me before a smirk spread across his face. He nudged Fiona getting ready to reply when he was stopped by Claire.

"Because Nini had left. But she came back! And now she looks like a pretty princess!"

"Aw Claire. Thanks but I'll never be as pretty as you," I said, feeling my face heat up and looking down at my food. Claire simply giggled. We continued eating in silence.
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"Will you be watching the reset with us?" That was Emma's voice. It was after dinner and I was sitting in the kitchen, a mug of tea in my hands.

"No uh, I'm afraid not," I said while pouring more tea into the cup, "you want some?"

"No, no. I just wanted to know how you were."

I looked at her, smiling weakly. Emma came over and gathered me in her arms.

"Oh Nidria," she always refused to call me Nini. She claimed it felt more personal to use my full name, "Oh sweetheart it must've been horrible."

"Oh yes. It must've been absolutely terrible not being stuck in this loop. Going out and getting to live your life."

Both Emma and I turned at the new voice. Enoch, of course.

"It's not as if you were stuck in time with nothing to do and having to deal with some of the worst, most annoying children while one child was lucky enough to get out while they still could. Why did you come back? We were much better off without you. You should've just stayed where you were," his tone was bitter, angry. I stepped away from Emma and approached Enoch.

"Nidria..." I heard Emma's unsure tone. I held up a hand and she quieted down. I stood in front of Enoch as he stared me down.

"Listen here Mister O'Connor, don't speak as if you know what has happened these past three years. As far as I'm concerned only Emma and Olive are aware of," I hesitated, "...certain events and I clearly heard The Bird asking you to leave me alone. Now, I don't know what I ever did to you to make you hate me but I sure as hell know that it wasn't on purpose. Now please. For at least one day just. Leave. Me. Alone."

I felt the tears and quickly ran upstairs, leaving Enoch shocked and confused. I quickly ran into my room, and shut the door, sliding against it until I reach the floor.

Downstairs I could hear Emma shouting at Enoch about how much of an insensitive prick he is.

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word count: 793

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