When Kieren Walker is eleven years old, his parents leave him in charge of his sister, Jem, for the first time, while they visit with the neighbors.
Kieren has always been a rule-follower himself, a good listener; he eats his peas and brushes his teeth and waits his turn.
Not so Jem, who lives to drive her parents mental, and as soon as the door shuts behind them, Jem is off, digging up everything she can think of that she's not meant to do (try mum's make-up,
jump on the sofa, eat a biscuit from the hidden package at the back of the cupboard).
Kieren follows her around, his frustration quietly boiling, pulling forbidden items from her grasp, trying to reason with her wild little brain,
even as she rolls down the stairs and climbs the bookshelves in the sitting room.
Kieren watches it all happen: Jem scrambles to the top of the sideboard, tries to stand, wobbles, and knocks against the wall.
The mask (their mum's collection, she'd wanted to be an anthropologist, before; she's told Kieren) tumbles down and hits the ground with an ugly crack.
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