Honey knew that her younger sister was struggling at school. On several occasions, she had tried to tell her parents that they needed to take an interest in Becky's schooling; but they were both so self involved, that her advice was never heard.
She got back home from work on the Monday afternoon to find the house in total silence. She walked into the living room to find Becky sitting looking totally dejected on the sofa.
"What's up love? And where is everyone?" Honey felt the first twinge of unease.
"Mum and dad have decided that they needed a little holiday." Becky murmured in a subdued voice. "They went out this morning and booked a last minute trip to Spain; and they're due to fly out in the next hour or so."
"For how long?" Honey asked in the same flat tone as her sister.
Becky looked up at her with wide blue eyes. "It's one of these golden years' trips, you know for the retired folks. Go and spend the winter in some sunnier climate."
"How long?" The shock left her numb.
"Three months, maybe longer."
Honey dropped down on the sofa next to her little sister. She stared unseeing at the wall across from her, her thoughts in chaos for a moment.
"Of all the rotten... , selfish... , inconsiderate... ," she trailed off as the blind impotent fury engulfed her.
Her sister gave a little sob next to her and Honey turned to hug her.
"Oh love." She murmured consolingly.
"I tried to tell them..." Becky half sobbed.
"Tell them what ducks?"
"I've got this letter from my teacher." She sniffed tearfully as she waved the envelope in front of her big sister.
Honey took it from Becky with a sinking feeling of inevitability.
She tore open the envelope and opened up the hand written piece of paper.
'Mrs and Mr. Bird,
I think that it is imperative that we meet as soon as possible regarding the problems your daughter Rebecca seems to be having in class.
I therefore propose that you meet me here tomorrow (Tuesday 28th September) at four thirty.
Yours most sincerely.
M J Bea.'
It took Honey several minutes to decipher the terrible scrawl across the page.
"Oh dear!" she sighed as it finally made sense to her.
"What does he say?" Becky asked with a kind of doomed 'I already know so please make it a quick death.'
"He wants to meet up with mum and dad tomorrow."
"Well at least that's one humiliation I don't have to live through." Becky half sobbed, half laughed.
Honey gave a sigh of resignation and then stood up. "Come on love," she said grabbing her sister by the hand and pulling her to her feet. "Let's go and get some dinner then we can talk about what's worrying you at school."
"But what's the point? You can't get mum and dad back, so that they can go to that meeting, so why worry over it?"
"Because in the absence of mum and dad," Honey said through gritted teeth. "I'm your legal guardian, so I shall have to meet with your teacher tomorrow and..." She looked at her sister firmly. "I want to go there armed to the teeth with everything that's troubling you so that we can sort it out between us."
Her younger sister looked at her with something like wonder on her face. "Oh Honey! Do you mean it? You'll be the one to take care of me? You'll go and talk to my teacher and CARE about what he tells you?"
Honey gave her fourteen year old sister a big hug as the tears rolled down both of their cheeks. "I care pet," she whispered softly.
Honey finished work early the following afternoon on the pretext of a dentist's appointment. She rushed home at three o'clock and dove straight into the shower, then with a fluffy towel wrapped around her torso she scanned her wardrobe anxiously for something suitable to wear.
Honey worked at the local animal sanctuary, where she worked in the admin centre, but she also spent a lot of time out and about the site, and her daily work outfit was casual old trousers or casual old jeans; with the emphasis on the 'old' part.
She settled reluctantly for her one 'good' outfit; in the form of a fitted pencil skirt that finished just above her knees and a silken type blouse that clung to her shapely curves.
She pinned her long fair hair up into, what she hoped would be a no nonsense look; and prayed that the finished affect would make her look older than her twenty four years.
She wanted to look responsible and capable in front of Becky's teacher. She didn't want to give him any cause to start questioning Becky's home life.
Between them Becky and Honey had decided that their parents had been called away to mum's sick mother. Grandma lived in Cornwall and mum and dad had gone down there to take care of her while she was feeling under the weather.
Honey gave a sad little sigh as she dusted on a light makeup.
All of her life she had known that her parents hadn't really wanted her; that her parents had a life and each other to the point where ANYONE else just got in the way.
Honey didn't begrudge their self-indulgent love for each other. She didn't even blame them for their carelessness at getting pregnant in their thirties and having a child they KNEW that they didn't want.
She did start to get annoyed though when ten years later at the age of forty three Mrs Bird had become pregnant AGAIN.
Honey hoped and prayed that this time it could be different, that they could love their new baby as parents should love their children.
It wasn't. They didn't, couldn't. Wouldn't even try.
The knock on her door caused her to turn with a confident smile.
"So babes; how do I look?" she asked lightly as she held her arms out so that Becky could get a good look.
"You look beautiful Honey." Becky smiled sincerely.
"Ahh! Get away with you," Honey laughed dismissively.
Becky looked Honey solemnly in the eye. "You ARE beautiful Honey."
Honey smiled, as she reached out to give Becky an affectionate hug. "So are we ready to go and face the dragon?"
"Oh I wouldn't call him a dragon exactly." Becky smiled mysteriously as they left the house.
Honey frowned suspiciously. "What would you call him?"
"Well, sir to his face." Becky giggled suddenly, and for the first time in Honey's memory her little sister sounded like the teenage girl she was supposed to be.
"And what did SIR say about me going instead of mum and dad?"
"Oh he was very sweet and understanding and thought it was the sensible thing to do." Becky gave a dreamy little sigh and Honey shot her another suspicious look.
They pulled into the deserted school parking lot and the sisters walked hand in hand through the empty corridors.
"I remember when I came here." Honey murmured distantly as she travelled back in time to HER school days, remembering some happy times, and some not so happy times.
"Did you love it?" her sister asked curiously. "I'll bet you were dead popular?"
Honey looked at her sister in surprise. Was that envy she heard in Becky's voice?
"Not really, why would I have been?"
"Well... , you're so, beautiful... , so clever and, confident." Becky stammered.
"Beauty isn't everything Miss Bird!"
Honey turned in surprise at the sound of that rich masculine voice. She swallowed the lump that came to her throat and silently willed her heart to start beating again.
.... There is more of this story ...