It was when she ripped the tights that everyone started to get bothered. Huge tears streaking down her legs, from her thighs to her toes. She did it with scissors, ruthlessly enjoying the rips she made in her skin and clothing.
The strange people came to the house again, telling the parents how her childhood fame had ruined her. She would never be the adorable girl with blond curls again; she had cut them off and straightened them until her hair was ruined, dying the remnants turquoise and purple, hoping to be expelled so she could go to the bad school and claim a ghetto background
Instead, she was told to get into drama.
She fit with the losers who dreamed of fame, with the sarcastic replies and near constant back chatting. The rips in her clothes were seen as expression.
Every night she told me wild stories of her fame, making up parties where beautiful people wore designer dress's over a thousand pounds and drank cocktails she'd found in a book her father used to whip out at parties.
She wasn't broken, she said, she was just waiting. Waiting for her mother to come back and claim her, for her father to stop using needles and start using a shirt and tie.
One morning, after she'd cried in her sleep and awoken with a wet pillow, she took me along the bank of the river, a trip out before school started. We watched the sun rise above the factory that was already pumping out steam at five in the morning, whispers of sleeping people drifting back to us from under the bridge.
I'll never do that, she said, I'll always ride at the top. I'll run this business, she declared proudly.
The next day in the paper there was a picture of a child star who had overdosed in a foreign country, dying alone without friends or her estranged family. She read this quietly, her eyes prickling with tears as her lips mimed the words.
She crossed herself even though she wasn't religious, miming apologies.
At school I heard more whispers of her, talking about her relationship with the girl who died. That was all she was to me; the girl who died; but to her she was three nights of no sleep, green kohl painted around her eyes in bright rings; green was the girl who died's favourite colour, she explained, it was in honour. Lest we forget.
I promised myself I would wear turquoise when she died, to remember her. I'd stay awake for three nights and cross myself, miming needless apologies.
I'm sorry, so sorry, always sorry.
She got back up, though, dancing down the streets like she always did, spinning me in crazy circles. I laughed with her as she did a perfect pirouette, ending with a bow. Heartbreakingly beautiful, she said. It was how she wanted to be known. Not the girl in the corner with the rips in her tights. Heartbreakingly beautiful.
Of all the endless nights she spent on the computer, clacking away on her websites to promote herself even anomalously, I watched her secretly from the beanbag in the corner, pretending not to notice when she clicked on adult sites, pretending to be much older than she was. She once danced for a woman in Alaska, rolling her body and spinning delicate moves a ballerina would envy.
I never envied her. Not once.
Last year while I signed the final documents to escape the home, there was a message in the post and the newspaper. The one in the newspaper was small, an obituary fit for a mouse. She would have been disappointed. In the letter, however, she wrote every word she ever wanted to say, and I published it. I won a prize, and crossed myself on stage, wearing turquoise circles around my eyes and ripped black nylons.
I told myself for all three nights I stayed awake she'd be back, this was just a stunt to grab attention for her, but she never returned. A post mortem showed she had followed her father into a pit of needles and lies. I was disappointed.
But she was still there in the dawn light, whispering under bridges words she forgot to write, dancing in streets where grandma's watched.
She was the biggest star the world had known.
She was heartbreakingly beautiful.
She was Kata.