"SUGAR? Where are you, beautiful?"
That's me. Sugar. Well, Sugar's not my real name, but it's what granddad calls me. Because she's so sweet, he tells people.
I place my book face down on the laminex counter, trying to decide if should respond to his call. I am really enjoying my book. It's an Agatha Christie, borrowed from the library. Crooked House. It seems apt to read it here, in my caravan where nothing is level. If you sat a jaffa on this table top it would roll straight across and off the other side. But I don't care. The caravan is my space - even if it is a little crooked.
Granddad bought the van only a month ago. We saw it by the side of the road on our way home from my doctor's appointment. It's old, but kind of cool with its aqua upholstery and homemade bunting. My very own cubby house. I don't sleep out here, but it's mine; somewhere I can be alone, do my homework - just be me. Some people say granddad spoils me - well, the mean girls in my English class do anyway - but it's only because he feels sorry for me since Mum and Dad died last year in the car accident. Obviously, granddad can see I'm still traumatised by it, so he buys me things to make me feel better.
"I've got a surprise for you, Sugar."
My ears prick up a little at that. Maybe he's come round. I leave the van and head towards the house. But I take my time, pondering the whodunit as I walk, trying to guess the identity of the murderer. Detective novels are my favourites and this one is particularly good. I am feeling quite smug because I am pretty sure I've figured it out.
Who is it, you ask?
Ah, but that would be telling, wouldn't it?
The screen door jerks shut behind me. Granddad sits at the old wooden dining table, which is covered by our best gingham tablecloth. Before him is a small cake stand topped by a single cupcake. It's pretty, with white icing and a cherry on top. Granddad smiles a little tentatively as I approach.
"Happy birthday, Sugar."
I frown. There is something in his tone. Something that displeases me.
"I thought we should have a little celebration, even though I know you said you didn't want one."
I maintain my stony silence.
"I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I should have waited till tomorrow to bring it up. But," he pauses, determination creeping into his voice. "I meant what I said, I'm afraid. I'm responsible for you now, and I think you are too young. I know I often give in to you on these sorts of things, but this time it's different."
"So, no more social media. No more internet. Not till you turn 14."
I don't say anything for a long moment, thinking. I shrug, managing to shape my mouth into something resembling a smile.
"Of course, granddad. If it's that important to you."
He slumps a little, obviously relieved. Granddad hates to upset me.
"It is. It's for your own good. Those emails you sent to that boy were - well, they were unacceptable, Sugar. It scared me to see what you'd written to him."
I hold the smile, but change it into a sorry-smile.
"Yes, I know granddad. I understand. That's all over now, anyway. I'll make you a cup of tea, shall I?"
He nods, grateful for my acquiescence. He didn't expect it to come so easily. Not after our earlier conversation.
I turn my back on him, my smile vanishes. I hold the kettle under the tap and then put it on to boil. From the cupboard above the sink I take a large enamel mug and place it on the bench top. I switch the smile back on and turn around.
"What sort of cake is it granddad? It's very cute. Is it from that new bakery over on the main street?"
I chatter, lightly throwing words over my shoulder - a confetti shower of peace offerings.
Granddad prattles on in response but I'm not listening any more. I pull a small bottle from the front pocket of my dress and pour a glug into the bottom of his mug. Carefully, I dangle a teabag in and pour the just-boiled water over it.
"...butter icing, I think the lady said. You like butter icing, don't you?"
I add milk and two large teaspoons of sugar and stir. After a moment's thought I add another heaped spoonful. Turning to granddad now with a big grin, a real one this time, I nod.
"Sounds lovely. Here's your tea."
I set it gently in front of him, lifting my wide dark eyes to meet granddad's watery blue ones. He is pathetically grateful at my apparent acceptance of his decree.
But it changes nothing.
"I've got a bit of homework to do actually granddad. Do you think I could take my cake over to the caravan and get started?"
"Yes, yes, of course," he says.
"Thank you. Everything will be fine, granddad. Don't you worry."
I kiss his papery cheek before picking up the cake stand and opening the door.
"Enjoy your tea."
I leave the house and cross the yard dreamily, surprised at how easy it was. Eyedrops in the tea. Poison. So many wonderful ideas come gift-wrapped in the pages of detective novels.
Car crashes can only happen so often, after all.
Eyedrops are far easier.
I open the caravan door and sit down, setting the cake stand on the table in front of me. I pick up Crooked House and close it carefully, storing it away in my school bag. Time to return that one.
I rest my head on my hand, elbow on the table and smile at my cake.
Happy 13th birthday, Sugar.
Entrants were asked to write a short story inspired by one of four photos. Short-listed stories will be published every day in the Newcastle Herald until Friday, January 23.