Soon engrossed in her TV show, Lucy didn’t notice that Jack had disappeared. It’s not like they usually sat together anyway, normally she’d have dashed upstairs when they got home, and he’d have been the one hogging the TV, so it made a nice change to sit and chill for a bit before worrying about homework and the like. Half an hour or so passed, with the TV show ending and another which didn’t really interest her taking its place. Realising she’d finished her juice, she was just thinking about getting up to refill her glass when her phone tinged.
It was a text from her Mum, reminding her that she’d be home late that evening as she had a late meeting to attend. Lucy had forgotten, but thinking about it that explained why she’d not been dressed for work when she’d dropped them off that morning, she must have been going in late. Yeah, that made sense, she knew that the high school where her Mum worked had an inset day, so she’d probably gone in for the afternoon if she was working late. A few seconds later, another text popped up, again from her Mum, this time reminding her to get changed out of her school uniform, and to get her brother to do the same. Rolling her eyes, she heaved herself from the comfort of the sofa and began making her way upstairs, calling into the kitchen for a refill as she passed.
“Oi, Jack, Mum said get changed!” Lucy bellowed as she walked along the hallway. As she shouted, she realised she hadn’t seen him since they got home. “Where are you anyway? You’d best not be getting into anything, or Mum will blame me!”
Worn out from his long day at school, and bored waiting for Lucy, Jack had dozed off behind the bathroom door, with his reading book open in his lap. Hearing his sister shouting so loudly, he jolted awake with a start, wondering for a moment why he was slumped on the bathroom floor, before remembering his cunning plan as he came around. Damn, he thought to himself, it hadn’t worked, and he knew he couldn’t hide in the bathroom all night. Resigned to defeat, he jumped to his feet and opened the door, making his way to his bedroom to get changed before Mum got home and he got told off, again.
Entering his bedroom, Jack was surprised to see that the curtains were open, letting bright sunlight steam in. He knew he’d not opened them that morning, even though he’d been told too. More surprising, however, was the fact his bed had been changed and he now had his favourite Turtles bedding on it. He knew that Mum usually changed it every couple of weeks (unless he’d had an accident, but he didn’t do that anymore, so there was never any need any other time), but not realising ask Lucy had that she’d had the morning off work, he was perplexed as to when she’d had time to come home and do all of this. As he took the scene in, he also noticed a pile of clean laundry at the foot of the bed, waiting to be put away. And on top of the pile? His school trousers and undies from yesterday! How had they gotten there?
Next door, Lucy had a similar shock to find her curtains open. She’d deliberately left them closed, because it helped to hide some of the mess…and also because she didn’t want the sunlight highlighting her bed, which had been stripped bare when she’d left for school that morning. But she now realised that it was no longer stripped, but had been made back up in some of her favourite purple teddy bedding. She must have been right about Mum coming home again that morning after all, and she wasn’t sorry that her shame had been so quickly covered up. A quick glance around also told her that most of her laundry had been taken, and with a little skip of her heart she also realised that Jack’s clothes that had been found and left near the door were gone too. In a way it was a relief, as she hoped it would now be forgotten about without any need for awkward explanations, but at the same time she really hoped their Mum hadn’t noticed anything amiss.
At almost the same moment, both Lucy and Jack sat down on their beds with a bounce, ready get changed as their Mum had asked. And at that precise moment there came a shout from each of their bedrooms…a shout of joy from Jack, and a cry of despair from Lucy.2
Audio Version of Chapter