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The Letter

Marissa sat at the kitchen table eating cornflakes.  It was a warm, sunny day and that always got Marissa up early.
She checked her watch, she still had fifteen minutes before she had to ride to school.  Not that she minded riding to school at all.  
Her birthday present last month had been a bright green bike, and she was so proud of it that she rode it rain, hail or shine.
Tania Milton, Marissa's mother walked into the kitchen holding a letter in her hand, she looked frazzled as if she hadn't had much sleep.
It was true too.  Tania had been tossing and turning most of the night thinking about the letter.  
"Morning Mum," smiled Marissa.  Tania smiled thinly back at her daughter, a new set of worries racing through her mind.  What would Marissa say?  
How would she take it?  Could it even work with Marissa here?
"You alright Mum?" asked Marissa off-hand.  Tania took a deep breath, it was now or never.
"Marissa darling, I have something important to talk to you about.  I got a letter yesterday."  Marissa shoved some books into her backpack and then glanced up at her mother's waiting face.
"What was that Mum?"  
Tania sighed, she hadn't even been listening.
"I said, I have some import-"
"Really, not now, I've got to go or I'll be late.  Bye, love you."  

Marissa cycled down Hoffman Avenue.  There was a chill in the air, but the sun was warm nether the less.  Her mother had seemed very worried about something back home.  Maybe she should have stayed and listened, but she really did have to go school.  
She sped through the gate of the school and over to the bike shed.  Quickly locked her bike up and ran into the building.

"So, our first graph will be a sibling graph.  You all have to tell me how many brothers and sisters you have ok?"  Marissa was sitting in Maths listening to Mr Phillips babbling on. 
"Gosh, you have five sisters Micheal!" he continued, "What about you Marissa?"  Marissa shook her head uninterestedly
"Our first only child!" he bellowed a little too jovially.  Lisa Grey, one of Marissa's best friends suddenly yelled out,
"No! She has a sister."  
Marissa glared at Lisa, "No I don't."  Lisa didn't take the hint though,
"Yes you do.  Marissa's never met her sister, Mr Phillips, because she lives in a foster home."  A few startled gasps escaped from the class and Marissa felt like hitting Lisa very hard.  It was none of Lisa's business.
"No reason to deny it Marissa.  Sisters can be annoying, but she can't be that bad!"  Mr Phillips laughed heartily at his joke.  Marissa stared hard at her Maths book and her face grew red.  Finally she was saved by the bell.

"Marissa!  Wait up!"  Hannah Martin was frantically cycling down the street after her.  At last she caught up.
"I thought I'd never catch you.  You left so fast, why didn't you wait so we could ride home?"  
"Oh sorry, I guess I forgot," she answered flatly.  
"I guess you did," said Hannah, "Look you're not still upset about what Lisa said in Maths are you?"  
Marissa obviously was but she said, "Of course not.  It's only the truth, why should it matter to me?"
Hannah almost laughed at her friend's cover-up, "Because it does matter to you.  Don't worry too much.  You know the way Lisa is, she says things without thinking."
Marissa nodded and they stopped at the lights.  Two boys from their class wandered up,
"Hey Ma-ris-sa.  Why's your sister in a foster home?" asked the first one.
"Yeah, did you really hate her so much that you sent her off?" laughed the second boy.
Marissa turned her bike around and hurried off round the corner.  It wasn't her way home, but she had to get away.

tania Milton opened her front door to find a red-faced Marissa facing her.
"Oh you're home sweetie.  Did you have a good day?" asked Tania, already knowing the answer to her question.
"Fine," said Marissa psuhing past her mother.  Tania followed her quickly down the halway and into the ktichen.  Marissa was scoffing Anzac biscuits as fast as she could.
"Are you shure you ahd a good day?" questioned Tania.
"Yes," answered Marissa coldly.  
Tania almost laughed, "Well, why are your cheeks all red then?"
Marissa glared at her mother and didn't say anything for a long time.  Finally she blurted out,
"why did you give my sister away?"  Tania did a double take.  Had Marissa found out about the letter?  No she couldn't have.  It must just be a coincidence.
"You know why Marissa.  Your father and I ahd no money.  We had only just arrived in Australia, we had no family of friends.  It was all very hard for us, but we couldn't support a child then."
Marissa swallowed.  She had already known all that and she understood, but it didn't make it any easier.  Somewhere in the world was a girl she didn't even know the name of, wandering around without even knowing she had a little sister.
Tania decided the time was right, "I received a letter yesterday.  It was from the Geelong Homeless Hostel."
"Hostel?" repeated Marissa confused.
"Yes.  It was about Nicole."
"Who's Nicole?"
Tania took a deep breath, "Nicole, is your older sister."  Mariss opened her mouth in shock.  She probably would have been less surprised if she'd been told they were going to the moon.
"Oh my god.  My sister?  Nicole?  But why?"
Tania smiled, "Bit of a shock hey?  Apparently she hasn't had as good a life as we'd always hoped."
marissa coudl see tears in her mother's eyes.
"She's been to several foster homes in Geelong.  She was at the last one for five years.  Last month her foster mum, up and left."
"You mean she just left?  Without telling Nicole?" questioned Marissa, outraged for her sister.
"Yes.  The hostel haven't been able to find her a new home.  She's sixteen now, I guess no-one wants to take on a child that old."  Tania looked sad for a moment, "Anyway, they ahve asked if we'd like to have her back."
Marissa just stared in amazement.
"You mean really live with us?  For good?"
Tania nodded smiling.
"So have you said yes?"
"We wanted to talk to you first Marissa.  Your father and I want to very much.  How do you feel?"  Marissa wa thoughtful for a moment, "I've always wanted to know her.  I guess that's a yes then."  Tania smiled a relieved smile.
"Marissa, we are at last going to be complete."