Nobody liked Annabel. But that was okay because she didn't like anybody. They were all stuck up and so what if she whistled a lot? Didn't hurt anyone. Gran liked her whistling, she always said so.
But gran had died. Annabel sat in class, quietly whistling while Mrs Sawbones told her off for not paying attention. She got sent to the headmaster - but as she walked out of class, she decided to keep on walking. She walked out of school.
She walked out of town. Passed her housing estate, passed the train station, out as far as she'd ever been.
It was cold and a bit scary. She tried whistling to keep her spirits up but she couldn't hear herself over the sound of lorries on the main road.
So she kept on walking.
Her phone rang but she ignored it and its whistling ringtone.
She walked on.
It was much further than she'd thought. She'd been in her mum's car last time and was sure it wasn't as far then.
Hours and hours went by. Annabel was tired and her dad kept phoning but she didn't want to talk to him. She wanted to talk to her gran.
By late afternoon, she found somewhere she recognised. The car had turned here. She was sure.
So she turned too and began to walk down a hill and away from all the traffic. Soon all the sound of cars seemed to vanish behind her and she could hear only birds. They sounded like they were whistling and she whistled back.
The sun came out exactly as Annabel saw the big tree at the far end of the cemetery. And saw her gran's grave with the cross on it.
Annabel sat at the grave. She pulled away at some weeds that had already begun growing by it. She tidied away some litter that the wind had blown. And she talked to her gran. And talked and talked.
She talked about rotten Mrs Sawbones. She talked about how horrible everyone was at school and how she had no friends.
Her gran listened.
And when Annabel had finished, her gran just kept listening. Waiting. Until Annabel said "Alright, well, maybe they're not all completely bad. There's Sydney. She asked about you. And Paul in the year above me, I like him."
Her gran listened some more.
"But it's not the same. Nobody listens like you do."
"I do," said her mum.
Annabel's mother stood behind her. "If I don't listen, how did I know where you'd go?"
Annabel tried to whistle a kind of shrugging I-don't-care whistle but her mum kept talking and the birds kept whistling so much better than she did.
"Annabel." Her mum knelt down by the grave. "Your gran is my mum. I come here every week but I was sure you weren't interested. I'll bring you. Okay?"
"Okay," smiled Annabel.
"But next time, we drive. Promise?"
"And next time you never skip school again, okay?"