MY first memory of Amber is of her waking me. “Come on,” she whispered. “Come to our place.”
She led me out the back gate and across the paddock to a tin shanty built alongside a caravan. Inside it smelled of dog food, and cigarettes, and dusty sofa.
Cheez TV was on.
Amber’s mother offered me a seat but her eyes remained on the screen as Vegeta challenged the warlord Frieza to a fight to the death. Alright! Dragon Ball Z was on.
They forced me to eat breakfast – I’d tried to starve myself a few days before – and invited me back to watch Cheez TV every school morning.
“You are the coolest adult I’ve ever met,” I told Amber’s mother. She laughed, but was pleased.
I grew to have a crush on Amber. She was a skinny 13-year-old blonde who disturbingly happened to be my foster niece (her grandmother was Hazel, my foster mother). She was cool, she was hot, and she was always there for me.
But she could be a cow as well.
I couldn’t understand her bad moods sometimes.
Hazel tried to explain why. “She’s sort of growing eggs inside her.”
I imagined a bird girl squatting on a nest of pillows on a couch each night, watching Buffy.
No wonder she was cranky, I thought. Laying those eggs would hurt. And my respect for Amber the bird-girl increased ten-fold.