Chapter one: introductions

"Oh my dear sweet mother, have I ever told you that it is utterly insane for you to install this rule?" Esther said, while looking at her mother's back hanging into the refrigerator.

"Esther, we've gone over this. Your English is truly up to par, but your sister's is not. Until she is as eloquent as you are, my sweet darling, we are speaking English in this household. Now, drop it." Her mother answered with only the slightest hints of sarcasm here and there. Removing herself from the fridge, she held some zucchini and sweet pepper.

"Now, my dear sweet oldest daughter." her voice now dripping with sarcasm, "have I ever told you that you are truly insanely gifted with a knife and vegetables." She looked pointedly at her daughter over the kitchen counter and placed the vegetables, a cutting plate and a knife in front of Esther. Then she turned at her heels and walked out.

"Yes mother, actually you have." Esther called after her in a sing-song voice. As she started on the zucchini Esther contemplated her first real day in the U.S. of A and she sighed.

She'd known of that this moment would come for over a half a year and yet it still had come as a surprise to her. At first she had been delighted about it, the prospect of moving away. No more memories of her father to haunt her every step in the house, a fresh start in a new school.

Yes, it would be great to move away to a country were nobody even knew where on this awful planet The Netherlands were, let alone the city of Amsterdam. But then things had changed over the past few months. The memories of her father were still there, they would never leave her, no matter where they lived. But a fresh start in a new school didn't seem all to necessary. The bullies had started to lay off and on the fifth grade annual trip to Rome, she even found that she could talk and interact with those same bullies at a whole new level. Had that only been three weeks ago, she wondered, yes it had.

Only three weeks ago she had been baking under the Italian sun and now here she was in upstate New York. But she had made one decision, though, the mistakes she apparently had made in her old school, she would not repeat.

And then she cut her finger.

Esther yelped as she felt the knife cutting her index finger and she looked at the cut in dismay, before sucking on wound. "why oh why,' she thought to herself, "wasn't it possible to get trough even one day without some truly stupid act of self mutilation.". Thankfully, Rachel just came bouncing, there was no other word for describing her movements, into the kitchen.

"What you do, cut yourself?" She asked, sitting herself down behind the kitchen counter and looking attentively at her sister sucking her finger. Esther slowly removed her finger and caught Rachel's eye.

"Yes indeed Rachel, I did cut myself." Not taking her eyes off her baby sister she slid the plate of the partially sliced zucchini towards her.

"Now why don't you be a dear sweet sister and cut the rest of the veggies while I go in search of a band-aid." Rachel narrowed her eyes just slightly and said in tone that sounded very much like her mother's.

"Of course, no just run along and try not to hurt yourself, mckay." Esther tried to glower at her, but she knew there was only amusement on her face.

"Why thank you, my dear sister, and please note that you're a cheeky little brat." They smiled at each other knowingly and with that Esther went in search of a band-aid.

Thomas flipped through his notebook. Again and again and again. He tried to read the words but he just couldn't concentrate on them. The pain in his upper torso and abdomen were seriously distracting him. Annoyed he slammed the book shut and pushed his chair away from his desk. He laid down on his bed, flicking his television on.

"Why the fuck do it now anyways", he whispered to himself, "I've got a whole weeks worth of detention to catch up." And with that he decided on watching some rerun of Star Trek.