I just want you to know how much I love you, even if I don’t always show it. I know you try to pretend that everything’s alright when it’s not really. But that’s ok. I like it with just you and me and George. We don’t need dad. I like looking after you, really I do. I know I’m grumpy a lot of the time but I’m just tired. I’m not used to doing all the cooking and cleaning and washing and ironing as well as my homework on top. It’s hard work sometimes. The teachers at school know that I have to help you but they don’t know that dad’s left, so they think I’m just being lazy when I don’t get my homework done on time. I don’t care what they think though. I won’t tell them in case they try to take me and George away from you. I can look after us all just fine. Sometimes I wish that we could go back to the way we used to be, but I know that’s not going to happen. Everything will be ok though as long as the three of us are together.
Ellie snapped her diary shut, replaced the little padlock and put it back into the lidded box which was full of various things that she rarely looked at but never had the heart to throw away. Lying down on the floor, she pushed the box to the back of her bed behind a box of old soft toys. Then she put the little keys for the padlock into her top drawer under a pile of socks. Ellie was taking no chances. She wasn’t ever going to show her mum what was in her diary and she didn’t want her brother George to go snooping in there either. The diary was sacred to her. She couldn’t talk to anyone else about how she felt, so she wrote it down instead. Since she had been left as the one responsible for looking after her disabled mum, she had needed the solace of her diary more than ever.
Sensing that the house was quiet Ellie crept into the kitchen. She’d had to stay up late to do her homework after finishing the ironing. The kitchen was a mess with all the dirty dishes still left on the table. Ellie sighed. She’d forgotten all about them. She quickly washed up, leaving everything to dry on the draining board, and then exhausted she crawled into bed and fell straight in to a deep sleep.
‘Ellie, wake up.’ Ellie was vaguely aware of someone calling her name, but she wasn’t ready to leave the peaceful world that sleep had sent her to.
She sighed and turned over.
‘Go away, George.’
George tutted as he shoved his sister.
‘We’re going to be late for school and you know I can’t get mum up by myself.’
Sighing, Ellie sat up rubbing her eyes.
‘OK I’ll sort it. What time is it?’ She looked at the clock by her bed. ‘Aaagh it’s 8.15’.
Ellie was up now, rushing around and throwing on her uniform. No time for a shower, she thought. Looking in the mirror she groaned. Her hair was sticking up and was a bit greasy but it would have to do. Shoving it back in a ponytail, Ellie hoped that she didn’t look too bad. She hated that the other kids stayed away from her at school because she was a bit different to them. A bit scruffier maybe? A bit poorer perhaps? She wasn’t sure, but it was hard being the one who didn’t quite fit in.
‘Morning mum, can I get you up and dressed?’ Ellie had opened the curtains and dragged some clothes out of her mum’s drawers before she’d had time to answer.
‘You’re late this morning, love. Did you over lay?’ Her mum replied, as Ellie pulled her up to sitting and was struggling to get her night dress over her head.
‘Yes my alarm didn’t go off and now I’m late.’ Ellie didn’t really have time to chat. She had chosen her mum a dress so it was easier to slip on.
‘There, that’s you done.’ she said ‘Arms on shoulders mum 1, 2, 3, lift. There you go. Wheel mum into the lounge, George?’ Ellie rubbed her back as they left the room. It was killing her from all this lifting. She rushed out into the hall to get her coat and bag.
‘I’ve done you some tea and toast, mum,’ said George, setting a tray in front of her. ‘And the telly’s on.’
‘Thanks, darling, have a lovely day both of you. Ellie have you had breakfast?’
‘I haven’t got time,’ said Ellie as she was rushing out of the door. ‘See you.’
‘Come on Els, we’re going to have to run,’ said George as he set off at full speed.
Ellie had trouble keeping up with him. George was two years younger than her and was quite small for an 11 year old, but he could certainly run a lot faster. By the time they got to school Ellie was bright red in the face and her throat and chest hurt where she had been panting so much. She all but ran straight into two girls who were strolling through the gates at the same time.
‘Watch it, stupid.’
Damn it, Ellie thought. Why did I have to run into Hannah Baxter and Lily Adams of all people? Hannah looked Ellie up and down.
‘Wow you really did get hit with the ugly stick when you were born didn’t you, Ellie,’ Hannah said as she and Lily walked off laughing.
Ellie forced back the tears that she could feel burning her eyes and gave George a look that told him not to say a word.
‘See you later,’ he said as he ran off in the direction of his form room and Ellie went reluctantly off to hers.
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