IT IS Christmas lunch. Mum puts the potato bake and chicken drumsticks on the table. We wait. She sits down. For the first time in ages the six of us sit at the one table. My brothers, sister, Mum and my stepfather Juan. More unusually, me.
I’m allowed to stay at my real home for Christmas.
You cannot remember the initial action that starts the argument. Only that my younger brother Aberforth* did something to annoy another sibling.
“Go to your room, Aberforth!” my stepdad said in the typical flat, emotionless way of his. And when Aberforth refused, Juan tried to make him. The table erupted with screams and clatter as they both wrestled each other, Mum trying to jump in to stop them.
I ran for the phone. I dialed as they fought. “Hazel!” I yelled on the phone. “They are fighting.” Later everyone will say I overreacted.
Aberforth screamed as he ran outside. Juan went sullenly to the master bedroom and marched out the front door with a box of home brew.
“Where are you going?” Mum asked, and he refused to answer.
My younger two siblings, Mum, and I sat at the table by ourselves. The potato bake made me feel sick.
“I’m not hungry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
*Obviously not his real name. But I'm sticking with it.