She heard her mother’s laugh as she opened the door. Her mother was sitting at the kitchen table, smoking. Opposite her was Nella. Misha felt her body go cold. “Where’s Dad?” she croaked. “Mom, where’s Dad? He’ll kill you when he sees you smoking.” As she brushed past them to get to her room her mother caught her arm.

“Dad’s gone, Misha,” she said. Misha looked down at her mother’s face. It looked younger, somehow, there were softnesses that she had forgotten around her mother’s eyes. But she couldn’t unclench the tightness inside.

“Mom, he’ll be back,” she said. “I’m going to my room.” Her mother did not let her go.

“Your dad’s not coming back,” said Nella helpfully. “I saw him myself take all his stuff out this morning. He didn’t even give your mother a bruise to remember him by.” She and Maggie laughed. Misha couldn’t remember the last time she had heard her mother laugh.

“Why?” she croaked.

“Misha, I have no more money. He can hit me all he likes, but there’s no money to take anymore, so there’s nothing for him to drink. So he left this morning. And just to make sure he’s gone, Nella’s Jordan is going to change the locks. But he won’t come back. There’s nothing for him here anymore.” She let Misha’s arm go. “Have some tea, my darling, sit with us.” But Misha said nothing. She went to her bed and lay down. She looked out of her window, and tried to find the clouds, or a bird to fly with. But she couldn’t do it. She found herself sobbing and sobbing. Then she fell asleep.