I send the paper off with Felix the Wonder Dog and stare ahead at the screen—but I’m not watching You’ve Been Framed at all. I’m just waiting. I haven’t done anything like this in forever. I haven’t interacted with anyone except my safe people for…I don’t know. Weeks. Months. Before I know it, Felix is back, and I grab the paper from him.
Hey, thanks. Actually we’re tanking. Frank is shouting at me because I’m writing this. You are a bad influence, Audrey.
I look at the way he wrote my name. It feels intimate. It feels like he’s taken hold of a piece of me. I try to hear his voice saying the word. Audrey.
“Draw the words,” Felix is instructing me. He’s totally got into his role as go-between. “Draw the words.” He jabs the paper. “Words!”
I don’t want to give this paper to Felix anymore. I want to fold it up and keep it somewhere where I can look at it in private. Study his writing. Think about him forming my name with his pen. Audrey.
I grab a fresh piece of paper from the side table where all my school supplies are stacked and scribble on it.
Well, it’s been nice chatting or whatever. See you.
I send it off and half a minute later the reply comes:
I’m still holding the first paper; the one with my name on it. I press it to my face and inhale. I think I can smell his soap or shampoo or whatever.
Felix is pressing his nose to the other paper and he looks at me over the top with huge eyes.
“Your pocket paper smells like poo,” he says, and bursts into laughter.
Trust a four-year-old to ruin the mood.
“Thanks, Felix.” I ruffle his hair. “You’re a great messenger.”
“Draw more words,” he says, patting the paper. “More words.”
“We’ve finished our chat,” I say, but Felix picks up a crayon and hands it to me.
“Make red words,” he commands me. “Make ‘Felix.’ ”
I write “Felix” and he gazes at it lovingly as I draw him close for another restoring cuddle.
I feel kind of exhilarated. And kind of emptied out. Which may seem like an overreaction, but then, in case you hadn’t picked it up, I am the Queen of Overreaction.
The truth is, if you don’t communicate with anyone new, ever, at all, then you lose the knack. And when you go back to it, it’s sort of draining. Dr. Sarah has warned me about that. She says I should expect even the tiniest tasks or new steps to be a bit exhausting. And believe it or not, that silly little exchange of notes was.
MY SERENE AND LOVING FAMILY—FILM TRANSCRIPT
INTERIOR. 5 ROSEWOOD CLOSE. DAY.
Camera pans towards a closed door.
So this is my dad’s study.
This is where he works when he’s not at the office.
The door is pushed open by a hand. We see Dad, slumped at his desk, gently snoring. On the screen is an Alfa Romeo sports car.
Dad? Are you asleep?
Dad jumps up and hastily closes down his monitor.
I wasn’t ASLEEP. I was thinking. So, have you wrapped your present for Mum?
That’s why I’m here. Do you have any wrapping paper?
He reaches for a roll of wrapping paper and hands it to Audrey.
And look what else!
He produces a white pâtisserie box and opens it to reveal a large birthday cake. It is iced with a big “39.”
There is silence for a moment.
Dad, why have you put “thirty-nine” on Mum’s cake?
No-one’s too old for a personalized birthday cake.
(He twinkles at the camera.)
I know I’m not.
But she’s not thirty-nine.
Yes she is.
No she’s not.
He breaks off and gasps. Aghast. He looks at the cake and back at the camera.
Oh God. Will she mind? No. Of course she won’t mind. I mean, it’s one year, what’s the big deal—
Dad, she will SO mind.
Dad looks panic-stricken.
We need a new cake. How long do we have?
We hear the sound of a door bang downstairs.
Dad looks freaked out.
Audrey, what shall I do?
We can fix it. We can change it to “thirty-eight.”
He picks up a Tipp-Ex pot.
There’s a knocking at the door and Frank comes in.