I flash my ID and walk out the front door of the school and begin the long walk home. Even leaving now, I won’t make it home much before the bus, but Helen has been good to us, so I won’t question her over something as meaningless as missing a day of running laps in PE. This town is nice in a different way than back home, beauty coming from the intriguing buildings rather than the luscious mountains. And it was just about as far from my tiny town in Wales as it could be. No one knew my face or remembered my story, even if they had tutted at “that poor girl” before running of to work or dinner or a date. People don’t remember the faces of people a world away, no matter how sad the little tidbit of life between sports and the 5 o’clock weather was.
I close the gate behind me and walk up to the house which was now my home. It looked perfectly... normal. Stone with brown wooden doors open outside the windows, a small bay window overlooking a ordinary garden. I cross the threshold into the house and call out as I lock the door "I'm home, Helen!"
Helen, my shiny new guardian who looked just enough like me to avoid questioning with pale skin, strawberry blonde hair, and green eyes, strode into the living room, my younger siblings clinging to her, one to each leg, until they ran over and tackled me instead. "Aren't you little monsters supposed to be living it up in the 2nd grade?"
"We were just playing house with Suzie," Jack started, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "And then-"
"And then," Emma cuts him off, "Teacher got real mad all of a sudden. Said we were playing it wrong and she'd have to call our mum."
"So I said that that may be hard, since she's in heaven and they don't have phone service, and only have dream connection, like you told us ."
"And teacher said lying was bad and said we had to go to the office. So I said that we would go, only we weren't lying. Then she got real mad and-"
"And she called Auntie Helen and said that we had to come home and get a talking to." I looked up to see Helen with a look of panic on her face, not sure how much should be explained the the 6 year old twins. I made sure my smile was in place and led my siblings to the couch.
"Do remember when I told you that we were moving here?" They nodded, looking like disjointed bobble heads. "Well, I told you a nice lady-- Auntie Helen-- would take care of us here. When your teacher said she was going to call mum, she meant she was going to call Auntie Helen. All of the adults here except Auntie Helen and I think that Auntie Helen is our mum."
"Why?" Emma asks, eyes wide with confusion, "I've seen pictures of Mummy and Auntie Helen doesn't ever look like her."
"Well," I fight a grimace as explain, "Auntie Helen is legally our guardian, like a mom but with more paper work, since..." I force the next word out, "Dad had to go away. So the nice people at the school are just calling her our mom because that is the official term."
The both look confused for a moment, but then accept my explanation and run off to play in their room. I run my fingers through my bangs, pushing them up away from my face before letting them fall back into place. "How mad was the teacher, store bought or homemade?"
Helen lets out a light chuckle, "Already had some 'Happy First Day Cookies' in the oven, I'll give them a plate to give to Mrs. Thomas tomorrow. Sorry that I had to pull you out early, but how was school besides that?"
"Just glad that the first day is over with."
"You know as well as I do that I want more than that. Make any friends? Enemies?"
"Can't call anyone you just met today a friend," I retort, grabbing my bag and an apple and turning towards my room. "Lots of makeup work, I'll pop down in a couple hours to help with dinner."
"Okay," Helen calls as I go up the stairs, pretending not to see her frowning at my back from the landing.