Fiona sees her parents’ car pull into the driveway and she slaps her little sister across the face.
“Snap out of it, Penny. Now. Do you hear me? Now!”
Thirteen-year-old Penny doesn’t snap out of it. She continues to stare at the ceiling, her pupils enormous black holes sucking in reality and twisting it into who knows what.
The car doors slam and Fiona and Penny’s parents head to the front door.
“Please, Penny. Please say something. They’re gonna kill me if you don’t. Just be normal. Be normal!”
Penny’s lip twitches, but her focus will not shift from the hallowed ceiling.
The parents let themselves in. They tramp down the hallway, discarding suitcases and bags along the way.
“Where are my lovely girls?” says Mum.
“Making us a cup of tea I should hope,” mutters Dad.
Fiona leaps into action. “Hey, welcome home! Tea? I can make tea. Come into the kitchen with me while I make a lovely pot of tea and you can tell me all about your trip.”
Mum and Dad are instantly suspicious. Fiona is seventeen years old. She hasn’t offered to make them a cup of tea in half a decade. And she certainly doesn’t give a flying fuck about their trip.
“What’s wrong? What’s happened?” says Mum.
“Where’s your sister? What have you done to her?” says Dad.
They push past Fiona and observe their youngest daughter in her glassy-eyed stupor.
“Oh, God! What the hell did you give her?” Mum cries.
“Do we need to take her to the hospital? Does she need her stomach pumped?” Dad inspects Fiona’s eyes. “Are you on it too?”
“On what?” Fiona says, feigning innocence.
“Well she’s high, isn’t she? She looks high. Doesn’t she look high?”
“High as a kite,” agrees Dad.
“Look, it’s her fault,” Fiona insists. “She wanted to try it. She begged me to let her try it.”
Fiona looked at her feet shamefully. “Hot sauce.”
The parents frown.
“Hot sauce? What the bloody hell is that? A new slang term for cocaine or something?”
“Mum! No. God, no! Literally… hot sauce. My friend gave me this special hot sauce that’s made with ghost chilis. It’s, like, 800,000 Scovilles or whatever. Penny wanted to try it so she had it on her scrambled eggs this morning. She had one tiny bite and then she went crazy! Started running round the house screaming. Then she sat down here on the floor and she’s been staring at the ceiling ever since.”
“Oh, my poor baby,” says Mum. “How could you do this to her? We need milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheese… does cheese help? We can try it. Oh, my poor baby!” She dashes from the room, shaking her head.
Dad wags his finger. “We’re never leaving you in charge again. And you’re grounded. And you can bin that bloody hot sauce. And whoever gave it to you is banned from this house. Do you hear me?” With that he storms off after Mum in search of soothing dairy produce.
Fiona looks at her sister. “Thanks a lot, idiot,” she whispers.
Penny’s lip twitches again and finally, finally she blinks. “I saw the future,” she croaks, her voice thin and strained.
Fiona crouches beside her. “Yeah? And what did the future look like?”
Penny begins to rock backwards and forwards. “There’s flames everywhere. The whole world is on fire, Fee. We’re… we’re all gonna die. We’re all gonna burn.”
Fiona pats her sister’s head. “That’s the sauce talking, sweetie. But you’re not wrong. Global warming’s a shitter.”
Stories inspired by a random songs from my Spotify library. This time it was “The Good Ones” by The Kills.Follow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com