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Sorting Things Out

Her aunties pick her up that morning. They arrive in Aunty Rae’s new car, the flash little BMW – bright red. Aunty Rae bought the car because of its colour. Lana’s been up since eight, set her phone alarm especially. No one else in the flat has stirred. For the past ten minutes she’s been keeping her eyes and ears open to make sure she hears them when they arrive. She wants to get out to the car, before the aunties come into the house for her. She’s sure they’ll disapprove. She can’t remember the last time she’s been up this early.

The aunties are saying all the usual stuff about her health, and how happy they are that she’s feeling a bit better. Lana sort of listens, sort of doesn’t. It’s all pretty predictable stuff. But the bacon and eggs are good, and they’re paying, and the warmth of the sun on her back feels good too. So she concentrates on her breakfast and lets them do most of the talking, quietly floats along on the rhythm of their words. Occasionally they look at her as though they expect her to contribute a word or two, so that means she has to keep at least one ear on the conversation. Backwards and forwards they go across the café table, talking about her and around her in their aunty voices that sound so much like each other’s. Her mum had sounded just like that too. Lana remembers when the aunties used to ring home, and if they didn’t say who was calling, she would never know which one it was. She’d guess, and usually get it wrong.

‘So we just want you to know we’re here for you, Lana,’ Aunty Rae, the older sister, the one who comes in the same small, blonde package as her mum, says. ‘Things have got a bit on top of you at the moment, but we’re here to help you work out what needs to be done.’ Blah blah blah. All that usual help and support bullshit.

Lana finds it easier after Aunty Rae leaves. Only one pair of eyes checking her out now. She doesn’t feel quite so much under the spotlight. ‘I’ve got the day free, Lani,’ Aunty Reenie tells her. Her mum used to call her that. ‘We’re going to get this business sorted out, once and for all.’


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