The pacing stopped. 'Your mother had to swerve to avoid a motorcyclist. She hadn't seen him. He just came out of nowhere, and she had to turn the car sharply to avoid him, and so she ended up on her side in a ditch by the side of the road.'
His dad's voice sounded flat, Henri thought while he looked at him with wide open eyes. 'How come she didn't see him?' he asked.
His father started pacing again, so Henri looked over at his sister, who met his eyes this time. 'She was rushing to come home. She was worried about me, about us,' Astrid said demonstratively.
Henri could hardly believe the story she spun, about how shards of glass had hit her in the face and that she had been bleeding from cuts on her cheek.
She had called mum in a panic, and mum had left work early to rush home. 'I don't see any cuts!' Henri jumped up from the sofa to examine his sister's face up close.
'Get away from me!' Astrid hid her face in her hands. 'Show me! Show me the cuts!' Henri yelled. He couldn't see anything on her face. He was sure she was just making it up.
'Henri, sit down and leave your sister alone!' his father warned in a tired voice. 'Just calm down, both of you. Your mother will be home soon.'
Henri sat back down, glaring at Astrid's face, scanning for the truth. She did seem genuinely upset, but it couldn't have been a very big cut if he couldn't see it now. She had probably overreacted, as usual.
It didn't matter though, Henri thought to himself. Everyone will blame him for what happened. All of it. They won't say it directly, but they will think it. Henri felt a sharp pain in his stomach. The churning was worse than ever.
Dad left the room and Henri heard the light scraping of small glass shards being swiped up into a dustpan.
He looked at his sister again, and he remembered how they used to hide behind the armchair she was sitting in. She used to play with him, and they would laugh and shout.
Mum would get upset with them and she would throw her house sandal across the room. They would scream and duck behind the chair to avoid getting hit.
They would sit there, nervously giggling, trying to suppress their buoyant energy. That was when his gut first started churning.
That was when his gut first started churning.