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Breakfast With Andy

'Open your mouth, Lucy,' says my big brother Andy, but I won't. I'm scared, but I won't open my mouth no matter what he says, no matter how mad he gets.

He got mad yesterday morning. Today, though, he doesn't get mad. Not yet, anyway. For a while he keeps waving his spoon about under my nose like Daddy used to when I was a baby, but when he sees I still won't eat, he doesn't get mad and he doesn't hit me. He just stops waving his spoon. Then he shrugs and looks sad, sort of disappointed in me. Then he shakes his head and takes the spoon out of my face. 'You'll come around, Lucy Locket,' he says. 'You'll come around.'

But he's wrong. I won't.

Andy carries on with his breakfast. I don't want to see that. I look at other things instead. I look at the stains on the table, at the cooker, at the fridge, at the cupboards with big, new padlocks on them. Andy's turned our kitchen into one big mess. He's done the same thing all over the house, what with his clothes and his books and his papers everywhere. There's mud on the floor from his boots, yesterday's dishes are just dumped in the sink, and in the corner by the back door I can see a pair of his dirty socks.

I hate it messy like this. When Daddy was here, we always kept the house clean and tidy, spick and span. I like it like that. If Andy'd let me, I'd clean everything up right now, right this minute, but I know he won't. And if I do it without his say-so, I'll be in big trouble.

The clock's too slow. I stare at it and try to make the hands go faster. I want it to be time for Andy to go to work, time for me to be by myself. When I'm by myself I shall write in my diary again.

I make my eyes go out of focus and I try thinking about nothing, but I can't. I think about time, about clocks and watches and how you can watch a watch. I start thinking about food, and then I can't stop.

'Shit!' says Andy, and it makes me jump. I look and see he's dribbled some of his breakfast down his chin. There's a wet mark on his shirt. I don't want to see that, either. I look away.

I wish I wasn't so hungry. I'm more hungry than I've ever been in my whole life.

I lift my glass and take a sip and my belly makes noises as the water goes down. Andy hears, and though I'm not looking at him, I can feel his grin. He thinks my belly noises mean I'll do what he wants. He thinks that soon I'll share his breakfast with him - but I won't. Even though I haven't eaten anything for a long time, days and days, even though I'm getting to look like those starving African kids you see on TV, I won't share Andy's breakfast with him. Not ever. I'm like that fat man on the motorbike, the one who sang that song Daddy used to like: 'I would do anything for love, but I won't do that.'

I wish it was time for Andy to go to work. I really, really do.

* * *

Tuesday.

Dear Diary. He didn't hit me this morning, but he was talking to himself a lot. Not proper words. Those made up ones he uses sometimes. He does that more and more since Daddy died, and it's scary. He shouts and swears a lot, too.

He double-checked all the cupboard-locks before he went to work. He's bought a new one, an even bigger one, for the fridge. While he was putting it on he told me I was looking really skinny, and he acted all concerned. Then, just now, when he locked me in my room, he said something that really scared me. He stood outside and said it loud, right through the door.

'You know what you have to do, Lucy,' he said. 'Don't you go leaving it now. Don't you go leaving it until it's too late.'

He was whistling when he left the house. I heard the truck start and watched him drive down the track, and now I'm all alone again.

I don't mind being alone, but I hate being locked in like this. When I'm locked in like this I sometimes feel like I'll go crazy, and that's when I get scared that maybe I won't be alive for too much longer. Next month it's my birthday, but if I don't get out of this room somehow and get something to eat, I think maybe I won't get to be sixteen.

Sixteen.

'Roll on, Lucy Locket,' Andy says sometimes. 'Sixteen, soon.'

He'll touch me when he says that, unless I see it coming and pull away fast. I hate it when he touches me.

'Legal, soon,' he says. Then he'll laugh his nasty laugh.

I think maybe I don't want to be sixteen. I think maybe I don't want to be legal.

* * *

Wednesday.

Dear Diary. Yesterday was a good day. An important day. I did it! I found a way to get out of my room.

What I did was this: I waited until Andy had gone, then I climbed out the window and got my fingers into the gaps between the bricks. I edged along to the big pipe at the corner of the house. It was a dangerous thing to do because my room is so high, and it really hurt my fingers. Twice I nearly fell. But I had to do it.

Once I got to the pipe it was easy to get down. I went straight to the big apple tree and ate three apples. I wanted more but I made myself stop after three in case they made me sick. Then I went to look in the shed. The stuff I wanted was still in there. The rope was stashed away behind some boxes, so Andy won't notice it's gone unless he needs it himself, and that's not very likely.

I didn't take the whole box of weedkiller. I just emptied some of it into my hanky then tied it to my belt. I was scared Andy might come home early and catch me, so I put two more apples into my pockets, tied the rope to my ankle, then climbed back up to my room. I nearly fell again, but I didn't, and now I've got the rope I can get in and out whenever I like.

I've hidden the rope and the weedkiller under a loose floorboard. If he finds out what I'm doing I think he'll kill me.

* * *
Thursday.

Dear Diary. Today at breakfast I was really scared Andy would notice a difference. I thought there might be a strong taste or something. I watched him carefully - he was pleased I was watching so closely - but he didn't seem to notice a thing. I think maybe my plan might work.

Watching Andy eat today I remembered the morning I saw him eat his first spoonful of our Daddy. It seems a long time ago now. It might be nearly a month or something - I should have started keeping you sooner, Diary.

It was sunny that day, not rainy like it is now, and I remember coming down to breakfast, and Andy was already sitting at the table. He looked like he'd been waiting for me. He looked excited.

'Today's the day, Little Lucy,' he said, and he made me sit next to him. Then he made me watch him begin to eat our Daddy.

He'd been talking about doing it for weeks, ever since the day we brought Daddy's jar back from the crematorium. It rained that day, too, and I cried a lot. We put the jar on a high shelf in the kitchen, and then Andy had a little ceremony with candles and things. He pretended to read stuff out of a book, stuff in a funny language, but I think maybe Andy made up the language.

That ceremony, it was all his idea. It started OK, but then after a while it got nasty. I didn't want to join in, but Andy made me, and afterwards I had to go to the toilet and I was sick. Then, later on that night when I was in bed, he came and told me what he was going to do. What he was going to do with Daddy. He told me about The Plan.

'It's important stuff, Lucy,' he said. 'It's what people did a long time ago, before Jesus and everything. When they lived in caves and hunted dangerous animals with spears. It gives you power. It turns you into someone special.'

Later still, after he'd finished messing about with me, he said: 'I want you to be someone special too, Lucy.'

At first, I thought it was all just talk. You know me, Diary. I'm stupid. I get things wrong sometimes. But you know Andy, too, you know how he is. You must see how I could make a mistake like that. Andy talks such a lot. Born under a bad sign, Daddy used to say, cursed with an over-active tongue. He reads these books, got these ideas, and then he talks and talks and talks until you just have to get out of the house and take your favourite walk down by the river and feed the ducks or something. Because if you don't do that, you'll probably do something really bad. Probably take the sharp carving knife out of the kitchen drawer and stab him in the heart, maybe kill him or something.

I know I shouldn't have thought like that, I know it was wrong, but he used to get me so mad sometimes. Really mad. And it's worse now, much worse, because Daddy's gone and I've got nobody but you to talk to when the bad feelings come.

We used to talk, Daddy and me. He'd take me to feed the ducks sometimes, and he'd tell me stories about Mom, tell me not to let Andy get under my skin. He'd hold my hands, but nice, not like Andy, and look into my eyes and smile. It was a lot better when Daddy was around. He knew how to put the brakes on, how to slow things down. Ideas and talk were as far as any of Andy's plans got when Daddy was here.

But now he's gone, and Andy's got nobody to put the brakes on. Only me.

* * *

Friday.

Dear Diary. Andy's in the toilet. I'm locked in my room, but I can hear him throwing up. I hope he goes to work today.

I had a bad dream about Daddy last night. I dreamed about coming home from school and finding him dead at the bottom of the stairs with his neck all bent and his head twisted around. Andy was sitting on the stairs looking scared, and then I woke up and remembered it wasn't a dream. It really happened.

I cried a lot. I cried a whole river. I remember how Andy made me sit with him on the stairs and look down at Daddy, how he made funny noises, how he didn't cry. Maybe he didn't cry because Daddy used to hit him sometimes. Maybe that's why. I don't know.

After a while, he got on the phone and called some people.

I remember how the ambulance came and took Daddy away. Andy put his arms around me and held me for a long time. Like an hour or something. 'Lucy,' he said, 'it's just you and me now.'

And he was right, because nobody came to visit after that. I used to like living miles from anywhere before Daddy died, before Andy had the phone taken out. I hate it now. Things have got funny around here since then. And not funny ha-ha, either. Funny peculiar.

I don't think Andy misses Daddy, not one bit, but I miss him. I miss him a lot. Daddy's just ashes in a jar now, and if my plan doesn't work I know Andy's going to keep on eating him, a spoonful every morning. Then one day Daddy will be completely gone. He'll just be an empty jar on the kitchen shelf.

Andy's gone to work. I watched him walk out to the truck. He doesn't look too good.

* * *

Saturday.

Dear Diary. This morning I came down to breakfast and Andy was sitting there at the kitchen table. He looked really sick and really crazy. I almost felt sorry for him.

'Little Lucy.' he whispered. 'Little Lucy Locket.'

I used to like it when he called me that. I sat down at the table.

He'd managed to sort out his bowl of cornflakes, and the sugar, and a carton of milk - but he didn't have the strength to get the lid off Daddy's jar. I reached across and unscrewed it for him. He looked at me and his jaw dropped open.

'You joining me?' he said.

'No,' I said. 'But I don't mind helping you.'

He almost looked happy. I had to stop myself feeling sorry for him.

Andy stuck his spoon into Daddy's jar, but then every bit of his strength seemed to go and he couldn't get it out again. He started to cry.

'I'm sorry I locked you in your room,' he said. 'I'm sorry about lots of things, Lucy. Help me some more. Please.'

I reached over, pulled the spoon out and sprinkled a mixture of Daddy and weedkiller onto Andy's cornflakes. Then I did the sugar and the milk. Andy smiled at me, grateful.

After a while, I started to feed him.

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