When Catherine entered the house, her half sister, Lillian, was sitting in the kitchen eating her breakfast. She was wearing a new dress that fit her well and made her look older somehow, her long hair had been carefully combed and braided. She smiled sweetly at Catherine.
“Mum says you stole, Cat,” she said, wiping the crumbs from her mouth. Catherine ignored her and remained standing in the door. Her sister did not let the lack of response discourage her. She rose from her seat and walked towards the door.
“You know, you could just have told me if you needed money.” She drew closer and stuck her hand in the pocket of her white apron. There was a jingle of coins. Catherine eyed her with growing suspicion. Even though the twins were pretty spoiled, they were not given money to keep for themselves, not unless there had been a special occasion. Lillian watched her reaction and her smile grew wider.
“I found these just this morning. There's plenty to lend you a bit if you need it that badly, sister.”
All Catherine's thoughts of standing up for herself in front of her step mother vanished. The rage that had filled her found itself at new direction, and she felt as though she was no longer in control of her won actions. She was looking on from the outside as her body lunged forward and tackled the blonde girl in front of her. Her arms flailing about as she did her best to inflict as much damage as possible before grabbing on to Lillian's hair and pulling on it. She had hoped that it would be easier to rip it out, but it did not give before she used her feet to kick off her sibling and stumble backwards. Lillian had been to surprised to protect herself from the first attack, but she soon came to her senses and did her best to fight back. Lillian was taller and heavier, but Catherine was by far the strongest. There was a moment of silence.
Catherine was still clutching long, blonde strands of hair, Lillian was staring at them in shock, slowly raising her hands to the bleeding spots on her head. Then she screamed and attacked. This time Catherine was unprepared. She felt like she had been returned to her own body, and the soft lengths in her hands were disgusting and choking at the same time. She could not believe what she had just done.
Lillian grabbed her around the waist and they fell, Catherine's head slamming into the hard stone floor. She tasted blood as she struggled against the other girl's grip and did her best to hit her in the face. She was to busy screaming to hear their mother enter the room. Only as Lillian stopped fighting and started sobbing pitifully, and she managed to a hard kick in her stomach that caused her to fall against the wall, did she realise that something was wrong. There was another quiet moment, apart from the sharp intake of breath from behind her and the sobs from her sister. Then a storm was released in the small kitchen.
Her mother grabbed her arms and shook her violently. She could feel her teeth clattering and felt a trickle of blood or saliva run down her chin. Her mother was screaming at her, face red with fury. She did not listen. It was, essentially, nothing she had not heard before. How dared she, who did she think she was, she was nothing but an ungrateful bastard whore-child. She did her best to keep her eyes to the floor, but as her mother continued to jerk her arms back and forth, she found it difficult to keep her head steady.
Next thing she knew, she was being pulled toward the door. She was slightly relieved to hear that she was still allowed, or expected, to stay in the barn. At least she would not have to worry about sleeping on the street. A stream of air around her was the only warning as she was shoved down the short stairs. She did not have time to protect herself against the cobblestones of the yard before her face hit them with a crunch. A red flash before her eyes, then pain, told her that she had not come away from the encounter unhurt. She could not seem to find her limbs, yet alone move them, so she contended herself remaining on the stones. They were more comfortable than she would have imagined now that she was no longer slamming against them.
She vaguely registered voices all around her, most of them sounding upset. Some of them seemed to belong to bystanders who had no idea what had happened, at least I her mothers responses were anything to go by. Her hearing began to clear up, and she had a feeling that her vision would have done the same by the time she opened her eyes, but more importantly, her nerves were now working very hard to show her just how badly hurt she was. A moan escaped her as her head began to pound, then a small, surprised cry of pain as she tried to support herself on her arm.
Arms supported her, and the pain seemed to shift as the people who were now carrying her walked forwards. She still had her eyes closed, but she could tell they were taking her away from the house. After an impossibly long walk, she was put down on a soft surface and finally opened her eyes, only to shut them firmly close against the light that stirred up her headache again. She had been brought to the Peggs' house and it seemed that someone wanted her to stay and wait for a doctor to arrive. Before she could protest, a woman, Catherine could not remember her name as the family had only just moved there, put her hand on hers and spoke to her in a firm voice.
“Don't worry about it, Catherine. We'll take care of it.”
She sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so Catherine leaned her head against the bed she lay on and sighed.