It. Over. Get.
I stand by her door, listening, trying my hardest not to breathe or make a sound.
There's no sound coming from her side either.
Very carefully, I sneak away.
Best leave them to it, I think. Go back and finish your article, feed the dog and take the clothes off the line. Those two will be fine, I think.
As five-thirty rolls around, I tap on the door again.
"Girls? It's time for us to take J home." I pause for a few seconds, waiting for an answer and the door to open. Nothing.
Knock knock knock "Girls, you've got five minutes to clear all this ------ empty egg cartons, plastic wrap, wool, sticky tape and beading wire all over Sapphire's bed ------ before we're walking to J's house, okay?"
Sapphire's hunched over the side of her desk, busily threading some string through a bag filled with stones and connected to a home-made slippery dip. "Mmm hmmm."
J is sitting on the edge of the bed, eyes not meeting mine. "I'm ready."
She only lives a few streets away and we always walk. Milly joins us, joyful for a bonus scamper on the lead as always. It's been the first time in three weeks that we've done this.
Sapphire skips ahead, urging J to join her. "Hey, I dare you to walk up the way up the street with me like this" and does a rather good impersonation of a hyperactive gorilla with knuckles nearly scraping the bitumen.
"Um, no way Sapph."
"Do you want me to carry your clarinet case?" I ask her.
J continues to focus on the footpath. "No thanks."
Sapphire tries again. "Hey-ba Jay-ba How-ba Are-ba You-ba To-ba Day-ba?"
They used to spend hours in Fat Albert-speak.
"Look I'm tired, Sapphire, okay?"
I see my daughter's shoulders slump as she drops back to my side and reaches for my hand. We've reached J's gate and instead of chatting for a while and letting Milly sniff their rose bushes we turn and leave without looking back.
When we round the corner, Sapphire says. "I was so happy when she finally said she'd come over after school, but it was horrible."
I wait, having learned over the past three weeks that too many interruptions and anxious questions make things worse.
"She thought everything was boring, she didn't like what we gave her to eat, she didn't want to help me, she didn't like the rabbit-shaped cushion I'd sewn for her and kept saying 'whatever' to everything I said."
We walk on up the hill, letting Milly sniff the old urine-action that had occurred at the base of a plane tree. "I tried so hard, Mum. I was so glad she wanted to be friends with me again, that it would be like it used to be, but she only came over to make me feel bad."
I pull her close to my side and her arms wind around my waist as we continue walking. It feels physically awkward but nice. "I know, love. I snuck over to your door a few times and didn't hear the usual happy chatter you guys used to have."
Sapphire sniffs and her voice is quivery. "Can we walk faster?"
I don't dare look at her puzzled and hurt blue eyes. Our pace quickens and I keep blathering. "......And I could see how happy you were to bring her home with us, and heard how nice you were in offering her things, starting up conversations and stuff. You should be proud of yourself because you tried everything."
"I know I did, Mum. I don't know why she's doing this to me."
My beautiful darling girl. How cruel it is to see you get hurt deliberately by someone you used to trust and love wholeheartedly. I have no real words of comfort and my advice is always waved away -"Yeah Mum but it's hard to make new friends because everyone knows that J is my best friend and they've already got their own," - or rejected - "Mum, stop worrying, you make me feel even sadder."
There are no phone calls for her after dinner now, and the weekends are spent entirely in the company of two adults. Two adults whose hearts ache for her. Any offers to invite other friends are always refused. "No Mum, stop it! I see them enough at school!"
I want to crack heads together, throw a tantrum, ring parents and get angry. But I can't do what she wants most in the world: turn back time and make her friend love her again.
After dinner and a shower, Sapphire's back in her room. I hear the 'brrrrip brrrrip brrrrrip' of the sticky-tape dispenser and see that there's considerable progress happening on her Rube Goldberg interpretation. She's humming to herself and Milly's snuck in there too, not only to sniff Sapph's schoolbag but also to just be a warm presence. She's good at that.
I know my child will be okay but the ache is there. And the concern and the indignant fury. How dare you do this to her?
"Do you think Dad will be able to help me do this on the weekend?"
Just you try and stop him.