Hearing his mum leaving Lucy’s room and beginning to descend the stairs, Jack made a quick dash back to the kitchen. As it happens, he’d not heard much after the shouts they’d exchanged, so he was still left wondering, but no way would he be brave enough to ask mum what had happened.
Lesley was shaken, she knew she’d needed to broach the subject with Lucy, but had hoped it would go much better than it had. She’d meant what she’d said, accidents really didn’t matter, and they could be dealt with. Chances are it was just a combination of her recent growth spurt and the stress of her SATs at school, and would soon pass. She’d thought the spare clothes and the plastic sheet had been reasonable precautions, and had hoped Lucy would have seen that and dealt with it like a grown up, but at the end of the day she was still an 11 year old girl, maybe the practicalities were all just a bit too much for her.
In something of a daze, she headed back into the kitchen and began to prepare pasta for dinner, knowing that both Jack and Lucy would enjoy this without any fuss. It was only as she turned to the fridge to grab some ingredients that she noticed the open washing machine, and realised she’d forgotten to gather the school uniforms to wash.
“Jack, love, if you’ve finished your drink could you do me a big favour please?”
Jack smiled at his mum, happy to help. “What is it mummy, what do you need?”
“Could you run upstairs and grab yours and Lucy’s school clothes for me to wash please? And try not to disturb Lucy, she’s a bit upset and just needs some time on her own. Thanks love.”
Jack took his mum literally, sprinting from the table and sliding the length of the hallway in his socked feet.
“Jack! Slow down before you break something…probably yourself! Honestly, I didn’t mean literally run you know.” Lesley chuckled, she should have expected that really.
Climbing the stairs at a slightly more sedate pace, Jack reached his own bedroom first, and bundled together the shirt, trousers and sweater he’d scattered across his floor earlier. As he did, he was pleased that there hadn’t been a repeat of yesterday’s incident, as that could have been difficult to hide, and he was quite enjoying being the ‘grown up’ sibling at the moment, the one who could keep his pants and bed dry. Satisfied that he had everything, and unable to resist temptation any longer, Jack then made his way next door to Lucy’s bedroom and knocked smartly on the door.
There was no reply, but Jack knew better than to walk in without being invited, he’d made that mistake in the past and it inevitably resulted either in him being chased by a furious Lucy, or even worse him seeing far more than he wanted to if she was in the middle of getting changed.
“Lucy, mum wants me to take your stuff down to wash.”
He listened intently with his ear at the door, but again there was no answering call. Instead, he thought he could hear the sound of gentle sobbing, and against his better judgement he tentatively turned the door handle and slowly opened the door just slightly, calling through in a more gentle voice “Luce, are you ok? What’s the matter?”
“Please leave me alone! You’ll only make fun of me again. It’s just not fair!” came Lucy’s watery, muffled response, her face buried in her pillow.
Now it was Jack’s turn to feel sorry, he realised Lucy was having a really bad time and he probably hadn’t helped with his silliness earlier. Lucy had always been there for him, even if she was an annoying big sister most of the time, she’d been there when he was sad and he needed her. She’d never laughed at him when he was hurt or even, in the past, when he’d had little accidents of his own.
Dropping his bundle of clothes, he snuck in through the partially open door and crept over to her bed, kneeling down next to it.
“I’m sorry Luce, I didn’t mean to be mean to you. Please don’t be mad at me, I won’t tell anybody what’s happened, promise.”
Lucy listened to this little speech. She wasn’t used to her little brother showing a sensitive side, not because he was horrible, but because after all he’s only 7 and doesn’t usually think about other people’s feelings before he speaks, but his words really touched her. She lifted her face out of the pillow and turned to look at him, all link and puffy from crying.
“You won’t tell anybody? Pinky swear?” She knew it was childish, but somehow she thought it would help, so she help out her little finger and Jack wrapped his around it.
“Pinky swear sis. Come on, don’t cry anymore, it’s really not that bad. Guess what? Mum’s making meatballs and pasta for dinner! Come on, race you downstairs.”
Lucy’s eyes welled up again, but it was a different type of tears this time. Tears of gratitude to her younger brother who, despite being so annoying sometimes, had just proven what a lovely young man he really was. Taking his outstretched hand, Lucy uncurled herself from her bed and allowed him to lead her out of the bedroom, stopping to collect their respective bundles of laundry as they did so. She wasn’t quite up to racing and Jack realised that, but they walked down to the kitchen together, causing Lesley to do quite a double take as they walked in, hand in hand. Honestly, kids, she’d worked with them all her life and had her own for nearly 12 years, but she still didn’t understand them!4
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