::as requested by bookwormsarah::
Sacha Lebenyev was such a bully, and it wasn’t any surprise that Miss Nashvili had kept him in, announced Susan, as she skipped to keep up with her elder brother. Just because she had done better than him in their Maths test – and Maths is so easy, Ganya, really it is – he had tried to trip her over. But Miss Nashvili had seen, because she sees everything, Ganya, really she does, and had made him sit in the corner, and he had been so mad, but he couldn’t do anything except glare at Susan, like she cared about *that*! And Mama had given her cheese in her sandwiches again, because maybe she forgot that Susan doesn’t like it, but it was OK, because Natasha-from-next-door had tuna, and they had swapped, so it worked out.
Ganya didn’t really talk much to his little sister, because, man, she was sorta cute and all, but details of daily life in kindergarten were not the most fascinating thing in the world to an eleven year old, and Tomi had told him that he had the new Fighter Pilot X game, and Ganya could play it if he wanted, which did he *ever*! So at the corner of the street where the Ivanov family lived and the street where Tomi’s family lived, Ganya cut Susan off in mid flow, and pushed her towards their house.
“Go home, Suzotchka,” he said firmly. “I’ll be in later, you tell Mama!”
Susan nodded and headed towards home. She had heard about Tomi and Fighter Pilot X (which sounded really fun, but Ganya had said she was too little, and anyway, girls didn’t fly fighter jets) and had figured she might be walking this bit by herself. She sang part of a song that Miss Nashvili had been teaching them in class as she skipped up the steps and pushed her hand against the plate on the door. It swooshed open, and Susan ran through the house into the kitchen.
But the kitchen was empty, and everything smelt sort of funny. Susan wrinkled her nose, because it was the bad kind of funny, and not the good. She remembered it, that smell. Her father collected old coins, and once she had held one in her hand for eversolong, and then her hand had smelt like this, and she hadn’t liked it.
Susan pushed open the door of their living room, and stopped. Everything stopped. And it didn’t seem to start again for a very long time.