Finding Audrey

Page 28

I can think of about sixty-five reasons why this is not going to happen any time soon. But it might, mightn’t it? It might?

Dr. Sarah says positive visualization is an incredibly effective weapon in our armory and I should create in my mind scenarios of success that are realistic and encouraging.

The trouble is, I don’t know how realistic my ideal scenario is.

OK, yes I do: not at all.

In the ideal scenario, I don’t have a lizard brain. Everything is easy. I can communicate like normal people. My hair is longer and my clothes are cooler, and in my last fantasy, Linus wasn’t even at the front door, he was taking me on a picnic in a wood. I have no idea where that came from.

Anyway. The ban is over tomorrow. Linus will be round again. And we’ll see.

Except I hadn’t reckoned on the apocalypse, which hit our house at 3:43 this morning. I know, because that was the time I blinked awake and stared blearily at my clock, wondering if there was a fire. There was a distant high-pitched screaming noise, which could have been an alarm, or could have been a siren, and I grabbed my robe off the floor and shoved my feet into my furry slippers and thought in a panic What do I take?

I grabbed my ancient pink teddy and my picture of me with Granny before she died, and I was halfway down the stairs when I realized that the noise wasn’t a siren. Or an alarm. It was Mum. I could hear her in the playroom, and she was screaming, “What are you DOING?”

I skittered to the entrance and felt my whole body sag in astonishment. Frank was sitting at his computer playing LOC. At 3:43 a.m.

I mean, obviously he wasn’t playing LOC right that second. He’d paused. But the graphics were there on the screen, and his headset was on, and he was looking up at Mum like a cornered fox.

“What are you DOING?” Mum yelled again, then turned to Dad, who had just arrived at the doorway too. “What is he DOING? Frank, what are you DOING?”

Parents have this way of asking really dumb, obvious questions.

Are you going out in that skirt?

No, I’m planning to take it off as soon as I get out of the front door.

Do you think that’s a good idea?

No, I think it’s a terrible idea, that’s why I’m doing it.

Are you listening to me?

Your voice is a hundred decibels, I can hardly avoid it.

“What are you DOING?” Mum was still shrieking, and Dad put a hand on her arm.

“Anne,” he said. “Anne, I have an eight o’clock.”

Big mistake. Mum turned on him like he was the baddie.

“I don’t care about your eight o’clock! This is your son, Chris! Lying to us! Playing computer games at night! What else has he been doing?”

“I couldn’t sleep,” said Frank. “OK? That’s all. I couldn’t sleep and I thought, I’ll read a book, but I couldn’t find a book, so I thought I’d just…you know. Wind down.”

“How long have you been up?” snapped Mum.

“Since about two?” Frank looked plaintively at her. “I couldn’t sleep. I think I’m getting insomnia.”

Dad yawned and Mum glared at him.

“Anne,” he said. “Can we do this in the morning? It’s not going to help Frank’s insomnia if we all argue now. Please? Bed?” He yawned again, his hair all tufty like a teddy bear’s. “Please?”

So that was last night. And things have not been Happy Families today. Mum gave Frank the third degree over breakfast, about: How many times has he got up in the night to play LOC? and How long has he had insomnia? and Did he realize that computer games give people insomnia?

Frank barely answered. He looked pretty gaunt and pale and out of it. The more Mum went on about circadian rhythms and light pollution and Why didn’t he drink Ovaltine before bed? the more he retreated into his Frank shell.

I don’t even know what Ovaltine is. Mum always brings it up when she talks about sleep. She refers to it like it’s some magic potion and says “Why don’t we drink it?” but she’s never bought any, so how can we?

So then Frank went off to school and I read Game of Thrones all morning and then fell asleep. This afternoon I’ve been filming some birds in the garden, which I sense is not what Dr. Sarah wants, but it’s peaceful. They’re very cute. They come and eat crumbs off the bird table and fight with each other. Maybe I’ll become a wildlife photographer or filmmaker or whatever. The only downer is your knees start to ache from crouching. Also, I’m not sure who’s going to watch an hour’s footage of birds eating crumbs.

So I’m pretty zoned out, and I jump in surprise when I hear a car coming into the drive. It’s too early for Dad, so who is it? Maybe someone gave Frank a lift home from school. That happens sometimes.

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