One, two, one, two. In, out, in, out. My feet were aching, my
throat dry. I pushed myself on further. One, two, one, two. In,
out, in, out. I finally reached the top of the hill. But I didn't
slow. I still had to get to the park. I found my iPod in my
shorts and clicked to the next song. Breath, by Breaking
Benjamin. I looked up into the grey sky, and felt rain spitting
on my head and shoulders. I reached the park. I slowed to a walk
and rolled my shoulders, stretching out. In ten minutes, I'd
reached the house. I unlocked the door and let myself in. I took
the device that was strapped onto my arm off, glancing at the
small screen. Two and a half miles, it read. I turned it off and
tossed it onto the stairs - I'd pick it up later.
"Noah? Is that you?" Mum called from the kitchen. I went in and
saw her making lunch while Felix was on his laptop and Michelle
watched TV - some stupid programme about fat people losing weight
"How was your run?" Mum asked.
She turned around and raised her eyebrows at me.
"You're sopping. I hope you haven't dripped through the house."
I looked down at myself. I suppose I was a little wet.
"Good. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Go and get showered
and then come down to eat."
"I'm just gonna grab something for now," I mumbled in reply. I
wandered over to the fridge, and while I was browsing I could
feel Michelle staring at me. I turned around, annoyed.
"What?" I hissed. She snorted and rolled her eyes, looking me up
and down in a disgusted manner.
"I can't believe the skinny-long-legged gene was wasted on
She scowled and turned back to the TV.
"Why didn't you give it to me, Mum?" she whined. I grabbed
a carton of apple juice, feeling my temper rise.
"I could have done so much more with a pair of legs like
that. It's not fair!"
"Ah, shut up," I muttered under my breath. All she ever did these
days was moan and complain about this and that and to be honest
it was driving my head in.
"What'd you say?" she shot at me, narrowing her eyes.
"I said shut up."
"Noah, don't talk to your sister like that," Mum said. It was my
turn to scowl and roll my eyes.
"Yeah Noah, don't talk to me like that," Michelle echoed,
smirking in my face. I ground my teeth in frustration. Just
leave it, I told myself. You're better than her. Leave
it. I sighed, letting the tension go out of my body. I turned
around and headed for the stairs.
"Yeah, you'd better run away," Michelle murmured under her
breath. And that was it - I couldn't just leave it. I marched
right back and shouted into her face.
"Will you stop being such a rotten bitch!"
"Noah!" Mum exclaimed. I wasn't listening. I was angry now.
"How dare you call me that!" Michelle shouted back, standing up
and spitting into my face.
"Well that's all you've ever been to me! Why the unnecessary
remarks about every little thing I do or say? Huh?"
I stood a little taller, and was thankful for my recent growth
spurt. I was almost six foot now, and even though Michelle was a
year older than me she had to tilt her head back to look at me.
"I haven't been picking on you! All I was saying was that it
wasn't fair that-"
"Well stop saying that it isn't fair! Life isn't fair -
deal with it!"
Michelle's mouth dropped open and looked like I'd just slapped
"How dare you speak to me like that! You're a nasty piece of
work, you are!"
"Oh, is that all you've got?" I spat back, egging her on.
"Believe me, Noah. You do not want to hear what I have to say
about you," she hissed.
"Oh, sorry, what was that? You criticise me all the time, so why
hold back now? You were on a roll. Go on, tell me what I am."
I felt a hand on my heaving chest and I looked away from
Michelle's seething face to see Mum. Her face was red and her
lips were pressed together so that they were white.
"I said stop! Who do you think you are? Talking like that
in my house?"
She shoved me and I stumbled back, my fists clenched at my side.
"You're a disgrace to this family! And you!" she whipped around
to face Michelle. She pointed her finger and jabbed it into her
shoulder. "I am sick and tired of you and your bloody rude
comments! If you have a problem with something you say it nicely
or you don't say it at all! You hear me?!"
Michelle nodded quickly and submissively, like a dog being locked
in its cage. I knew she got scared and sorry when Mum shouted at
her. But Mum shouting at me just made me madder. I turned on my
heel and headed for the front door.
"Noah! Where do you think you're going? I'm talking to you!"
I kept my mouth firmly shut, not trusting myself to speak. I was
so angry right now I could even have had a go at Mum. I stepped
outside and slammed the front door. It was raining heavily now,
but I didn't care. I took off on another run.
I didn't get home until an hour later, at eight o'clock. It had
taken me a long time to cool off, but I felt much better
"Mum says you owe me an apology."
Not better enough, however, to say sorry to Michelle. I stepped
around her and headed up the stairs to my room.
"Where do you think you're going?" Michelle shouted after me,
hands on hips. "Come back here!"
I shook her off as I ran a shower, locking the door behind me.
God, she was so bloody annoying! After my shower I chilled out in
my room until I heard Mum and Michelle go to bed which was just
before eleven. I slipped out of my room and went downstairs to
the kitchen. I was starving, so I heated up the leftovers of
dinner and ate it on the sofa, watching the highlights of the
football match on low volume. I looked up as I heard someone come
in. I sat up, ready to defend myself. But it was only Felix.
"What you doing down here?" I asked. He saw me and shrugged. He
got a glass out and poured himself some milk. He sat down next to
"You alright?" I said. He nodded. "Not tired?" He shook his head.
Felix was my younger brother, eleven years old and the youngest
in the family. He was rather shy, even around us, and he was a
boy of few words - if any words at all.
"Sorry about that fighting earlier. Michelle was treading on my
Felix shrugged again.
"Mum didn't have a go at you, did she?"
He shook his head. Good. We sat in silence for a while. Then
Felix spoke, which surprised me. But I wasn't surprised after he
said what he said.
"Mum said Carmen's coming home tomorrow, for the weekend."
Carmen was our eldest sister, she was nineteen and she'd just
left to university. She and Felix got on like a house on fire,
and I knew that he liked her best out of our family.
Felix nodded, smiling. I couldn't help but smile myself at him.
We finished watching the football, then I glanced at my watch.
"It's quarter to midnight. You should really be in bed now."
Felix looked at me. I took in the light brown, short cut hair,
the pale skin and the large, blue eyes, reflecting the light of
the TV. He nodded and muttered a goodnight, then left to go
upstairs. I washed up my plate and leaned back against the
counter. I sighed. Why did Michelle have to make everything so
difficult? We used to get on just fine when we were kids. We'd
play together nicely, and say please and thank you
to each other. It was only really when she'd turned into a
teenager that she moaned and complained and picked on me in
particular and I didn't have the nicest temper in the world so of
course I got angry at her. I shook my head. I was thinking too
much and it was giving me a headache. I went upstairs to my room
and went to bed.