Jinger made their beds and wondered what to do with Tabs for the rest of the day. She was not sure what was expected of her as a host. She felt reluctant to turn on the television because that always seemed wrong and lazy in the middle of the day. She had not missed it when she had been at school.
Maybe she would take Tabs to see the shop. She pulled her padded black school coat down from the hook by the back door in the kitchen. Usually there were so many there that she had to use her hood to secure it over the top of someone else’s but since everyone was already out it had been hanging all by itself.
The key rings with the octopus, the whale and the seahorse were also no longer dangling from their hooks by the back door. Jinger had left her key in the lock when she had opened it to let Dorothy in. Her dolphin swung against the door frame, looking very chirpy considering it had not been used in a long time.
As she twisted her key she felt something unexpected pushing from the other side. Looking up, she could see through the mottled glass that someone else was trying to get in. She instantly pulled her key out of the door.
“You stupid idiot! I couldn’t get my key in!” Jessica snapped, bringing in a rush of cold air along with her nasty mood.
“We’re going out now,” Jinger replied, noticing Jessica was not wearing any clothes she recognised except for a pair of Jinger’s gloves.
“Where are you going? It’s not like you’ve got any friends to see, is it?” Jessica threw her new coat over one of the hooks.
“Yes, I have!” Jinger said, and stepped aside. Tabs grinned at Jessica.
“Yes, I have,” teased Jessica in a ridiculous parody of her twin’s voice. “Why are you talking in that stupid accent?” She ignored Tabs completely.
Jessica pushed past them both into the house.
They wandered down the drive and out into the modern cul-de-sac. It was so cold Jinger wondered if it might snow and if that would make everywhere look prettier. She thought about the gloves Jessica had been wearing. They were blue and fingerless with a flap that you could fold over to make them into mittens. She had really liked them.
“Tabs, can I ask you something?”
“Hmmm.” Tabs sniffed the air. “It’s going to snow later,” she said.
“Why does everyone keep saying I’m evil? I know Jessica’s always hated me and I didn’t have many friends at my old school but why do all these people I’ve never met want me to die?” Jinger paused at the bottom of the street. “I just want to fit in,” she added.
“I don’t know, Jinge. Sometimes people, especially grown-ups, would rather believe what’s written in some old book when really they should make their own minds up about everyone. Ms Flapp and Mr Oldham don’t though, and they’re two of the cleverest teachers we’ve got, don’t you think?”
Jinger started walking again, leading Tabs away from the direction of her dad’s shop. If they took the long way round she would have more time to ask her friend these questions. “What’s written in the book, Tabs? Why would anyone think it’s about me? I’m just a normal girl.”
“It’s like that Woodcutter said, and Felix too. The book says that children born on eves have great power. It’s not actually that interesting. They made us read bits of it at Murkle Primary School.”
“But I’m not from Murkle! Why does it have anything to do with me? Loads of babies must have been born on the same day as me, you know, in the world.”
“That’s true,” Tabs said, threading her arm through Jinger’s as they walked along the pavement next to each other. “I dunno then. I think when grown-ups read old books sometimes they twist what it says to fit in with what they want to believe.”
“Even if it might get someone killed?”
Tabs shrugged. “It’s definitely going to snow,” she said.