Non! Je Ne Regrette Rien!

Chapter 1

The wind shoved at my back, blowing mousey rags of hair in my face. I scrambled along the path all too obediently, shuddering under the August sun. Remembering what Mum had told me the night before- "It's not a debate, now stop whining."- I wished I was like Peggy Clarkson in the year above. Then I could have really told her: Bugger off. You want the old woman's money so badly? You go and talk to her- earn something for once in your life.

But I wasn't Peggy Clarkson, I didn't say that, and now I was at the thirty-five, Sparrow Drive, waiting at the door. Timidly, I raised my fist to the glass panel- more a nudge than a knock. From the corner of my eye, the eggshell coloured curtains protecting the windows twitched, flinching from the dumb kid who had dared to disrupt the undisturbed drive. Moments later, hard shoes tapped loudly against the floor. In an attempt to strengthen my patience, my pupils darted over the gargoyle on the roof, at least four stories tall, maybe higher(I could only hope she wouldn't ask me to clean it for her), the two faithful lion statues silently snarling at me, their stony eyes burning into this intruder to their domain. So this was what Mum hoped to inherit?

Caught in my daydreams, I didn't realise the door was open until a smooth, sharp voice dove into my ears.

"Whatever you're selling," the lady I assumed to be Mrs Fennicks announced, glancing at the door handle. "I'm not interested."

"I'm not, Miss," I barely whispered, words drowning in my throat. "My mother sent me to help yo-"

"Help?" Disgust tugged the vocal chords. "I don't need charity, not from some... child. Who's your mother to decide what I do and don't need help with, then?"

"Lucy Carter, Miss." However much I tried to speak up, my voice had always came out almost silent, as quiet and insignificant as leaves rustling in the autumn wind.

Maybe I imagined it, but I'm almost certain I caught the slightest hint of surprised delight creep up on her mouth before she raised her hand to her face, tracing her twiggish fingers along her lips decisively, as though wiping a bad taste from her mouth.

"What's your name?" It was a demand, not a question. Unsurprisingly, the withered woman radiated disdain. While I couldn't blame her- I wouldn't want some random fourteen year old cluttering my doorstep- I wondered if she would have behaved differently to anyone else. Judging from the ancient lady's face, I doubted it; disappointment had crumpled her face beyond repair, her rusty eyes oozed something my mind took to be resentment and her pale lips drooped at the corners. Perhaps she had been beautiful once- rebellious copper strands stuck out among the tin strips, not quite ready to give up the belief that once the compost heap had been a bouquet.

"Lynn, Miss." My breath was louder than my voice as I answered her, but the faded lady nodded, running her burning eyes over my face. What was she thinking? Was she looking for my mother in me? Trying to find the sunshine strands in my muddy locks? The twinkling green in my dull hazel? Whatever it was, her brow lifted a milimetre in triumph.

"I suppose you'll want to come in then." she muttered, opening the door just enough to let me pass through, and with it a million new possibilities, slamming it behind me before the outside world could intrude.