Her delicate fingers tied the bow. She took her time, fiddling, adjusting. It had to be right. The present had to look pretty.
When she was satisfied, she gave the gift a gentle nudge. Admiring her finesse, she rose from her seat, smiling.
‘Annabeth,’ called her mother. ‘Is your aunt’s present wrapped yet?’
‘Just finished Mumma,’ Annabeth yelled back, as her mum arrived in the kitchen.
‘Good girl,’ Mum said, gazing at the beautifully wrapped present. ‘You’ve done such a wonderful job.’
Still smiling, Annabeth nodded her thanks.
‘Let’s go, then. Don’t want to be late.’ Mum grabbed her keys and led Annabeth towards the door. ‘What’s that smell?’ she asked, sniffing. A frown furrowed her forehead.
Time for more Botox, Annabeth thought wryly.
They drove in silence before arriving at Erica’s house. Annabeth felt a cold grip around her heart as they pulled into the driveway. She felt her mum turn to face her.
‘It’s going to be OK, Annabeth,’ Mum said. ‘She’s fine now.’
‘I hope you’re right Mum.’
‘This gift will go a long way to mending fences,’ Mum continued.
Annabeth smiled again. Her mum frowned again. ‘What’re you smiling for?’
‘Ugh, there’s that smell again,’ said her mum, as they left the car and walked to the front door. ‘What the hell is it?’ She pressed the doorbell.
Erica opened the door. ‘Well, well, look what the cat dragged in.’
‘Happy birthday, sis,’ said Mum, kissing both Erica’s cheeks. ‘Here’s your present.’
‘Why thank you,’ Erica said, completely ignoring Annabeth. ‘Can I open it now?’
‘Please do,’ said Annabeth.
Erica opened the perfectly wrapped present. Pulling back the lid of the box, she coughed. Annabeth was smirking widely. Her mum began to cough.
Erica screamed and dropped the box. A shit fell from it, thudded to the floor. It squelched slightly, causing the odour to infiltrate wider, with more power.
The sisters gagged. Annabeth grinned. Her irreverent behaviour satisfied the need in her to give something back to Erica.
Her mum turned to face her. ‘Annabeth! What have you done!’
Annabeth didn’t answer.
‘Where’s Erica’s present?’ her mum asked. She cleared her throat. ‘The one we bought.’
‘I thought this one suited her better,’ Annabeth answered while staring coldly at her aunt. ‘Shit for a shit.’
Erica opened her mouth to speak but gagged again. Her eyes were watery, glistening, but dead as she glared back at her niece.
‘Happy birthday, Erica.’ Annabeth turned her back and walked out the door, leaving her mum and auntie staring in disbelief.