I am ten.
I am in my unwashed, unironed school uniform and quietly eating my breakfast at the old wooden table in our government rental home.
My sister is four and is in the middle of the lounge room playing with her dolls and watching cartoons. My brother is thirteen and is in the kitchen, making himself a Vegemite sandwich to take to school.
I see him look in the fridge for an apple or a mandarin to put in his plastic bag for recess- but there is rarely any fresh fruit in the house these days and today is no exception- he closes the fridge with nothing.
When we hear our mother waking up, that first daily dose of anger coming from her room, a silent flash of hostility sweeps through us. We act quickly. My brother hisses at my sister to be quiet and turn the TV down. I have a brief awkward moment of eye contact with my brother as I try to quickly finish my cereal before she comes out of her room, as I know I won’t want to be in such a central point of her path and risk being a target.
Her door slams open and she storms out in an old fleece jumper and the denim shorts she wore yesterday. Her hair is messy and her eyes are piercing pale blue and full of hatred.
We see her stalk down the hallway and into the toilet. My little sister has gone still and is sitting in silence on the edge of the lounge with her dolls still on the floor, head down. My brother is already gone – retreated into his bedroom at the back of the house, door closed.