Who was Henry talking to? She heard him again and then he came round the corner. He was taller than her, but not as bossy a brother as some of his friends.
“Hi there, Horace.” Marie looked round, but there was no one behind her. He came closer, shook his hair out of his eyes and looked straight at her. “Where’s Mum, Horace?”
Again she looked around, but there was no one else.
“Who are you talking to, Henry? Who’s Horace?”
“You’re Horace. That’s your new name.”
Marie shrugged her shoulders and turned away; he was just being a bit more stupid than usual. Somewhere, she remembered seeing their mother’s iPad.
Somewhere Henry was calling out again – sounded as if he was in the hall now, calling up the stairs. “Boris!” It sounded like Boris and then, there it was again. “Boris, I know you’re up there, Boris. You’d better not be in my room.”
Who was he talking to? There was a pause. Marie knew that he wouldn’t bother to go up and check, and, sure enough he called out again. “Boris, if you’re in my room, you’d better look out.”
Then Marie could hear the sound of someone knocking at the front door and she waited to hear Henry answer it. It would have to be Henry to open the door for their mother was out in the back garden with her head stuck in the flower bed and she was too far away. By the time that Marie reached the door into the hall, Henry had opened the front door. In the meantime, their little sister Clare had obviously left Henry’s room and was half-way down the stairs.
Henry waited to one side. Another boy stood there, about the same age, probably a new friend from the new school. He was better looking than Henry, but he didn’t look her way. This newcomer caught Henry’s eye and smiled. Henry jerked his head in the way that boys jerk their heads when they want someone to move and this new boy stepped over the mat, into their hall. Before Henry could say anything the newcomer looked around, glanced up at Clare and then back at her.
“So, Henry mate, you’ve got two sisters.”
“Yep, Horace and Boris.”
Marie glared at her brother but all he did was grin back at her. What stupid game was he playing? Clare was looking unhappy, but she wasn’t going to say anything in front of this boy.
Marie was different and she spoke out. “What’s your name, then?”
“Mick, and, er, you’re not really Horace are you?”
“Course she is, and this is Boris, the little one.”
Marie stepped across to the stairs and reached up for Clare’s hand.
Out in the garden Mum was not much use.
“You know what those boys are like when they’re being daft.”
“But, Mum, Clare’s upset.”
“Yes, I know love, but he’s just teasing you and he’s got a friend in to show off to. It’s best to ignore him.”
“But Mummy, it’s not fair.” It was Clare’s turn now and Marie hoped that her shrill little voice would get Mummy away from the flowers to tell off their big brother, but it didn’t. They watched as their mother reached into the flower bed and another handful of weeds appeared and fell onto the pile on the path.
The new names continued for a week or two. Marie and Clare avoided Henry now, whenever they could, but he always seemed to be nearby, looking for them, trying to find them and always calling after them, “Horace, have you seen Boris anywhere?”
Dad was no use. “Don’t take any notice. He’s just winding you up.” Then, one day, at school, one of Marie’s friends was talking about her dad’s aunt, who had just had her ninetieth birthday. Ninety, was that ancient? What would she look like? Older than Granny?
Then her friend was talking again, about old Aunty Doris.
Back at home Marie explained to Clare and soon they could hear Henry calling to them again: “Horace, Boris, have you got the remote?” Then he was in the kitchen and they stood facing him, over by the sink. It was Marie who spoke.
“Hello there, Doris. Looking for someone?”
And that was it, for Doris suddenly forgot his sisters’ new names and, for the time being, peace returned.
Why do you think that Henry called his sisters by these different names?
Why did he suddenly forget them?