"Cassandra, get down here!" My father calls: more of a command than anything else. It was always a command, never a question. I never seemed to have a choice in things.
I pad barefoot down the slick, wooden boards of the staircase, barely making a sound. I seemed to have become expertly skilled at the art of being silent, after endlessly sneaking about over the years.
"Cassandra!" He calls again when I don't answer. I stamp loudly on the steps rather than answering him.
They are in the back lounge room. I can always tell where they are, even in this huge house: they are two completely conspicuous people. The tall, oak door is wide open, fuzzy noise of muffled voices floating out from the television speakers, spreading throughout the corridors. A sharp ringing sound squeals as one of mother's crystal glasses is put down on the glass table without a coaster.
"Andrew, dear, I tell you all the time!" I can predict her words before she even speaks to correct his fault. I hear her picking the glass up, neatly followed by the smooth sound of one of her African, hand-crafted bead coasters being slid across the table. I am right outside the door now, hiding beside the door frame. Okay, so I am stalling. But whatever the reason is that has caused me to be summoned, it cannot be good.
"Where is that girl?" Mother practically yaps. I can see her through the crack of the door hinges, holding a wineglass that contains a liquid of a dark burgundy shade. The bowl is cupped in her palm, stem between her first two and last two fingers of her left hand.
She always holds it with her left hand: it leaves the right free for whatever else she wants to do. The glasses make such a regular appearance nowadays, she has to be practical.
"Andrew, please," she smoothens out the imaginary creases she has conjured up in her obsessive compulsive brain to be imperfecting the cream Burberry dress she is wearing.
He gets up, as if ready to storm up to my room and drag me down the three flights of stairs himself. I better get in there.
I saunter into the room, making sure to move my hips enough to make the safety pins on my plaid red and black miniskirt chink together audibly, watching my mother run her eyes over my outfit in unconcealed disgust. She takes a sip of her drink.
My father, on the other hand, does not even look at me as he picks the remote up off of the table, turning the noise of the television down to a murmur.
Nobody says anything.
"Well, what did you want?" I snap, curling my toes into the beige rug. They've called me all the way down here, so they'd better not waste my time. I have things to do – other ways to fritter away my Saturday afternoon.
"Don't snarl like that, Cassandra, it's unattractive." Minerva stares at me, almost as if she could be making eye-contact, but her gaze is ever so slightly too high. She's looking at the piercing on my right eyebrow. Okay so maybe their disapproval was a perk of getting it done, but I wanted to do it anyway, honest.
"Well don't gawk like that, Mother, your eyes will go square." I reply, quite wittily I think.
"I believe that's television, Cassandra." My father raises his nose, huffing at the two of us as if we are two misbehaving children: although one is his wife and the other is his 'delinquent' daughter.
"Jesus Christ, get to the point?" I retort, running my hands up against my hair, just to draw a little attention to the bright colour of it. I must not let them forget.
Mother covers her mouth with her dainty, manicured fingers, shaking her head which causes her salon blond hair to mess up slightly. I smile.
"Cassandra, sit down please." My father sighs.
"I'm fine standing, actually," I dig my heels into the rug, squaring my tiny shoulders.
"Fine," He growls, teeth clenched. "Stand then. Let's get this over with. The way in which you have been behaving these past few months…"
Blah blah blah.
Did they seriously think they could lecture me?
This was almost amusing.
"-because of Michael-" I hear him say.
"What?" I bark, cutting him off, feeling the anger bubble up, ready to erupt. "You're bringing Michael into this now?"
"Cassandra, just listen-" He tries.
"Oh come on,Dad!" I cry, cutting him off, "Not everything is just some post-apocalyptic aftermath of him!"
"Cassandra-" He starts again. But the anger has exploded, whipping about the room like a tornado. Destroying the little image of family we had left.
"No Dad, no: Just stop. So you have a problem with pretty much everything about me, but as much as I hate it we're related, and I'm under eighteen so it's not like you can just get rid of me like everyone else that doesn't agree with you! We're stuck with each other. So can you just sit the hell down and let me get on with my life for the next three years? I swear to God, I'll be out of here as soon as I fucking can!"
They just stare at me.
I suppose they are wondering how we have kept this conversation from happening for so long. The answer is that we generally avoid each other. Happy, happy family.
"Michael didn't…" He stutters before looking to his wife to take the wheel – as per usual.
She coughs, composing herself as if about to make a speech or a toast at one of those fancy dinners she is always going to.
"Cassandra, we have had enough of your sullen, bad-tempered, childish attitude."
Hah, of course, because children get piercings and dye their hair blue.
"I've spoken to my family and my sister, Emily, is the only one who will take you." she continues with her perfectly prissy tone, unaffected by what I've just said, apparently.
"Take me?" I screech, "Take me where?"
"Take you in. You're going to live with her for a while. We've had enough." She crosses her arms across her chest. She looks like a sculpture made from sandstone.
"What the… When… Who is Emily?" I stutter, baffled by this sudden news.
I notice my father's face falls a little bit. Maybe he expected me to be more resistant about moving out.
"My sister! She only lives a few hours away. But get this straight, Cassandra, you will be going. I-" She catches herself, glancing across at her husband. "We, have already made arrangements." She practically hisses at me.
"Fine, pack me up and send me off somewhere miles away, I'm sure it'll just reflect amazingly on your top-notch parenting skills." I flash a very put-on smile at her, gesturing at the words top-notch to portray my sarcasm.
My father is still sitting down, hand resting on the pristine cream settee arm. He could look relaxed, if it wasn't for the look on his face. Nobody speaks.
"Oh well. I can't say I'll miss you terribly…" My voice cuts through the words that hang in the air.
"You will be gone by next weekend, young lady." She says in the most no-nonsense voice she can muster.
We just stare at each other for a few moments. I don't feel my nails digging into my palms until I feel the stinging of blood mixing with oxygen.
I sprint out of the room, slamming the huge heavy door behind me.