Chapter Sixteen

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I sit at Mike's kitchen table doing nothing but thinking.

I remember when my life used to be simple. School work, visiting my grandmother, looking after Phoebe. Then all at once things started to spiral out of control. Grandmother went to the nursing home, father came back, I almost got run over. Suddenly everything is so much more complicated.

It cause's a string of what ifs and maybes. What if father never came back? What if he never left? What could I have done differently? The whole thing makes my head hurt.

I wonder if this happens to anyone else. Probably not. Everyone else has it easy. The worst thing they have to deal with is the death of their cute pet hamster. I wonder how I got so lucky? But there's no point in wallowing in self-pity, like I'm doing at the minute. I need to figure out how to get out of this mess. But I'm coming up blank. Blank as a piece of paper.

I'm snapped out of my thoughts by Mike clicking his fingers in front of my face. "Hello? Anyone home?"

"I'm thinking! Leave me alone." I snap.

He frowns. "I know your worried about your sister but you need to relax."

I laugh bitterly. Relax, sure like that's happening anytime soon. "Yep, because that's so going to happen." I say sarcastically. I might as well have let Phoebe go off with the devil.

"No need for sarcasm." He replies.

"It's you rubbing off on me." I muse.

I feel myself being dragged down the hallway. I sigh; he has that glint in his eyes that lets you know he's not changing his mind anytime soon. "Come on Emma. You need to act your age and have a little fun for once."

My eyes widen. "You called me Emma!" Finally, he's stopped calling me Em!

He frowns, "I guess I did."

I follow him happily as he walks down the street. "Wow." He comments. "Who knew all I had to do was call you by your full name." I ignore him.

I have no idea where we are going but I trust that it's nowhere bad. After about ten minutes we're in front on a tall, unfamiliar building. I look across at Mike quizzically but he simply drags me inside.

Soon enough my feet are buttoned up tightly in shoes with a blade attached to the bottom. One shoe a size bigger than the other so I can fit my bandage in. I'm wobbling around on cold, slippery ice clinging tightly to the side. It's a good job I don't need or use my crutches. Mike is laughing at my pathetic attempts to skate. I scowl, how did he think this was a good idea? I've never been skating in my entire life, of course I'm going to be useless at it.

Mike sniggers at me which causes him to lose balance. He topples over backwards and lands flat on his back. I erupt into laughter. Serves him right for laughing at me! That my friend, is karma. My hands have let go of the side and I'm slowly drifting away from the edge. By the time I've realised what's happened I'm in the middle of the rink.

I breathe in deeply. I'm absolutely terrified, but if I panic I'll lose concentration and land flat on my face. I keep my feet still while I gain my balance. Mike has recovered and glides up to me smirking. "What ya gonna do now?" He taunts childishly.

I narrow my eyes. Be like that, see if I care. I carefully study the other people moving around on the ice. I copy there movements and try not to think too hard. I get the hang of it pretty quick and turn around to bob my tongue out at Mike. "Take that!" I yell triumphantly.

He smiles an evil smile. Soon we're racing each other around the rink neither of us winning. He's had a lot more practise but now I'm not scared skating actually comes easily to me. I push off my left leg and cut in front of Mike forcing him to slow down. Then I skate quickly away. "That's cheating!" I hear a offended voice behind me complain.

I laugh as I push myself even further ahead. He's just behind me as I weave through swarms of people. Someone falls over just in front of me and I try to swerve out of the way, but the bend is too sharp and the bandage prevents me from bending my knees far enough to turn the angle. I feel myself falling towards the hard ice.

I close my eyes. I wait for the impact but it never comes. Mike drags me up my face inches from the floor. "Thanks." I say in relief. We make our way off the ice. I change shoes and we walk back to the house. My feet are killing me, protesting against the two hours spent standing but the smile remains glued to my face.

When we get back the happy feeling evaporates. A new, black car that belongs to my father is sitting on the drive. The backdoor opens and Phoebe comes rushing out. She runs over to me and burries her head in my shoulder. "I thought you were gone!" She whispers.

I ruffle her hair and reply, "Now why would I do that?"

"B-b-be-because I went with him." She stammers holding back tears. My eyes meet with my fathers. He looks cross. Obviously his little chat with Phoebe did go so well. I smirk. Then I turn to my little sister.

I hold her shoulders and push her back so I can take a good look at her face. The lines etched into her face around her eyes and mouth say it all. She's being serious. "Phoebe, I'll be there for you as long as you want me." I say seriously.

She smiles at me and hugs me tight. "Forever."

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