I liked Erica, but Daddy didn't. She did everything for him, like the man on the advert said she would, and it had meant I wouldn't have to anymore.
She had mousy hair and it fell around her pale face in curls. She always smiled at me with her pretty eyes and high cheek bones, and at Daddy. Though he would never smile back.
Erica was always sweet and loving and kind, just like Mummy had been.
I still feel sad when I think of Mummy sometimes. Especially when I happened to brush Erica's skin. It was cold. Not like Mummy's at all.
Daddy often sits in his study late at night talking to himself when he thinks I'm sleeping. I hear every word through the dusty floorboards of our crooked old house. And I never understand why he says what he says. Sometimes the sound makes me so sad I feel like running down to him and telling him straight,
"Daddy" I'd say, "Daddy, Mummy moved back to Australia to be with Aunty Jess, but she'll be home soon. So please stop crying."
But that would make him mad.
Why would the Government have sent her away anyway?
One night Erica made Daddy cross. She dropped a little porcelain statue of two tabby cats with their tails entwined. It smashed into tiny pieces across the kitchen tiles. Mummy had always loved it best.
So Daddy took his gardening shears and pushed them through Erica's neck. She didn't scream, or wiggle, or bleed. She just sank back against the kitchen cupboards whilst Daddy cried out and pierced her hard skin again and again. And then Erica didn't work anymore. I don't like to think about that.
Daddy said she could never replace Mummy, "thank you very much, Tory arseholes". I think Mummy would have liked her. But Mummy is coming home soon. And Erica won't be there.