After retrieving his backpack from the hallway, Henri sat down at the dinner table and started to look over his homework.
He'd already done most of it during a free period earlier today, but he guessed it wouldn't hurt to go through it again. He liked getting good grades.
Even though his classmates would tease him and call him teacher's pet, mum would say, 'Ooh well done you!' and 'You're so clever!' and she would positively glow with pride.
A little after six, Astrid came down from her stronghold to heat up the dinner mum had left for the both of them. Henri cleared the table and put out plates, glasses and cutlery.
They ate their dinner in silence. Henri wolfed his down, eager to escape his sister's glum humour. His gaming buddies should be home by now.
When he was finished, Henri brought his dirty plate to the kitchen and put it in the sink.
It was Astrid's turn to do the dishes, but when Henri turned around, his sister was blocking the door from the kitchen to the hallway. 'You'll have to do the dishes. I can't. I'm going out.'
'What?' Henri groaned, 'That is so unfair! It's your turn.' 'Well, you have to. I have plans. I'm going out, and mum said you have to do the dishes.'
She spoke quickly, glaring at him from under her dark bangs. Her dyed hair made her look pale, despite the flush on her cheeks.
'I'm not doing the dishes! It's not my turn!' Henri tried to jostle his way past his sister, but she remained firmly stuck in the doorway. 'I'm older than you, so you have to do what I say. And I'm telling you to do the dishes. Anyway, mum said you should listen to me.'
Henri thought she was being unfair. She probably knew how badly he wanted to meet up with his friends online. And it's not like she was allowed to go out on a school night anyway.
She was probably going to meet that gross boyfriend of hers. He had come to the house a few times when mum was out. Henri wondered if she knew about him. He didn't think that she did.
Astrid's tone of voice didn't quite match her words. Henri detected a slight tremble and thought, maybe if he pushed...
But he didn't want to disappoint mum, so instead he gave in and started on the dishes, determined to get them done quickly. He could hear Astrid going upstairs.
'That's it. Put some more make-up on. That'll help,' Henri said to himself. He rattled the plates, glasses and cutlery in the soapy basin.
Flossy suds speckled his jumper and he almost got some in his eyes. He picked up a kitchen towel to wipe his face.
After only a few minutes, he heard Astrid coming back down the stairs. She started preening in front of the full-length mirror in the hallway, just outside of the kitchen.
She put up her hair with a clip, then pulled it down again, combed her hair, pulled it up again, no... another clip ... down again ... comb ... up again.
Sigh... Henri picked up a drippy glass to dry and listened to his sister's fussing just outside the kitchen door. He felt his gut starting to churn.
He felt his gut starting to churn. To be continued...