Chapter One

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Hi guys! Long time no see, huh? I feel like I haven't uploaded anything in ages... which I haven't. This is my NaNoWriMo story, which I'm currently in the process of editing/rewriting. I hope you like it!

Dedicated to Defend because the title was her idea.


             There were only three people in the kitchen, but still I felt suffocated.

            Saying this, the head count did kind of depend on whether you counted Nora as a single person; as she leaned back in her chair, stomach jutting out alarmingly over her jeans, this was certainly debatable. Hitting the eighth month of pregnancy seemed to have triggered a growth spurt for my sister’s unborn baby, as if it had suddenly realised it better get a move on if it had any hope of being born normal-sized. Nowadays, she looked as if she’d swallowed a beach ball, and most people had taken to eyeing her with a constant wariness, extremely aware of the risk of her popping at any moment.

            The abundance of clutter in Gram’s tiny kitchen wasn’t exactly helping matters. Recipe books were stacked in the most random places – on top of the microwave, in the gap between the fridge and the worktop, even a couple functioning as a doorstop – which made no sense at all. Gram was what you might call an experimental chef; she relied more on her own instinct than printed instructions. Usually, this meant throwing odd combinations of ingredients together and hoping for the best.

            And, as if that wasn’t enough, she seemed to harbour a strange fetish for post-it notes. Masses were stuck all over the kitchen, most of them concentrated onto the fridge door, but the words scrawled across them were barely legible. I was in the middle of trying to work out what egg red oon meant when I noticed Gram had placed a steaming mug right under my nose.

            Tea. Clearly, she’d not only missed the morning forecast that said we were in for highs of twenty-five, but had also failed to look out of the window and notice the sun shining over the town of Walden-on-Sea.

            “Isn’t this exciting?”

            Looking up, I caught sight of Nora smiling wildly at the both of us. Her grin stretched so far across her face I thought it might split it clean in half; she seemed to be having trouble controlling her glee.

            On the contrary, there was no danger of me having the same problem.

            “I just can’t believe it’s finally happening, you know? Lenny and I getting our own place, Flo coming to live right by the sea! Won’t it be lovely? Everything’s just turning out to be so perfect.”

            Perfect was not the word I would’ve used to describe the situation, but I wasn’t about to ruin Nora’s good mood. Besides, I knew all too well that her crazy hormones could have that covered in three seconds flat. I’d spent the whole journey here listening to her nonstop chatter – detailing how wonderful it was going to be, how lucky I was to be able to step right out of the house and onto the beach, what colours she and Lenny were going to paint the baby’s nursery (leaf green was looking their best option at the moment). The problem was I just didn’t share her enthusiasm. I felt bad, really I did, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited about the prospect of relocating from busy north London to the spectacularly boring seaside town of Walden-on-Sea to live with my grandmother.

            It all started somewhere around the start of Nora’s second trimester – a point at which she’d suddenly decided it’d be a good idea to sell the cosy London flat we’d shared forever and shack up with her hippie boyfriend Lenny.

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