Lily is usually gregarious.
During the past week, though, her mum’s noticed she’s been sullen and withdrawn. She comes home from school, heads straight upstairs to her room, closes the door and refuses to respond to Anna’s repeated attempts to engage her.
Anna’s worried. Her little girl, Lily. So sweet from birth. Giggling, responsive, outgoing. Never let anything faze her, even starting school. She burst through the front gates, as if claiming territory. She made friends. Primary school was a breeze.
Anna assumed that if they were to encounter hardship, it would be through the difficult terrain of secondary school. Anna and Hugo deliberated over where to send her. All the good schools were at their fingertips and in the end they chose the all-girls private school, with the monstrous fees but stellar reputation. The principal refused to tolerate bullying and other negative behaviours. Anna knew that Lily would excel there.
Two years in, though, and Anna is perplexed. It’s like a switch has been flicked inside her daughter, turning her from bright to dark.
Anna sips her wine, pondering how to navigate this strange new personality. Hugo’s away, overseas for work. He’s going to be no immediate help.
‘Lily,’ she calls. ‘Can you come downstairs?’
No response. Anna calls again.
This time, when Anna is faced with silence, she begins to tread up the wooden stair case. She taps gently on Lily’s door, then opens it. The shush of the door sliding over the carpet is all she hears. Opening it wider, she sees Lily, a crumpled mess on the floor, a blister pack of pills empty. Anna rushes over, shakes Lily. She groans. She uses Lily’s mobile, on the floor next to her to dial 000 for the ambulance.
Wiping the tears away, she waits and hopes.