“Mum, listen,” he kept saying. “Put the computer down. You don’t want to do this, Mum.”
Which didn’t work. Mostly because she did want to do it.
The computer didn’t actually smash into smithereens when she threw it. It kind of bounced twice and landed on its side. In fact, it barely looked broken at all, once it was sitting on the lawn. There was just a bit of shattered glass from the screen, which Dad immediately cleared up because of Felix playing outside in bare feet or whatever.
But I guess it’s messed up enough inside that Frank can’t use it anymore. It looked a bit sad, sitting on the grass with his ancient Minecraft stickers all over it.
Everyone stared at it for a while, and a couple of people took photos, and then they all drifted home. I mean, hand on heart, it was a bit of an anticlimax. But not for Frank. He’s devastated. I tried to say “I’m sorry” as we went inside, and he couldn’t even answer.
I think he’s in shock. He hasn’t really spoken all evening. Mum is grimly triumphant and I think Dad is just relieved that the car didn’t get trashed.
And although I really don’t want to get into it, I’m wondering one thing. Does this mean Linus won’t come round anymore?
MY SERENE AND LOVING FAMILY—FILM TRANSCRIPT
INTERIOR. 5 ROSEWOOD CLOSE. DAY.
Mum is sitting in the kitchen with a coffee cup, looking straight to camera.
I did the right thing. OK, it was a bit extreme. But sometimes you have to take extreme measures, and everyone’s shocked, but afterwards they say, “Wow. That was really adventurous and farsighted of you.”
I mean, I KNOW I did the right thing. And yes, things are tense at the moment, but they’ll get better. Of course Frank didn’t react well, of course he’s angry—what did I expect?
Well, I didn’t expect it would be as bad as this. To be honest. But we’ll get through it.
Mum lifts her coffee cup, then puts it down without drinking.
The thing about being a parent, Audrey, is that it’s no picnic. You have to make difficult choices and you have to see them through. So yes, I’m finding Frank a little challenging right at the moment. But you know what? He’ll thank me one day.
Well, he might thank me.
OK, so the thanking is unlikely. But the point is, I’m a mother. Mothers don’t run away when things get tough.
Camera pans to Mum’s BlackBerry and focuses in on a Google search:
Spa breaks for single women, no children allowed
Mum hastily covers it with her hand.
So Frank’s basically not speaking anymore. To anyone.
Actually, I quite like a silent Frank. It’s peaceful around the place. But it’s stressing Mum out. She even spoke to his teacher at school, who was, according to her, “Useless! Worse than useless! He said Frank seemed ‘fine’ to him and we should ‘let him alone.’ ‘Let him alone,’ can you believe it?” (I know this because I was outside Mum’s room while she was sounding off to Dad.)
Tonight he’s sitting at supper, eating his enchiladas without looking at anyone, staring ahead like a zombie. When Mum or Dad ask him anything, like “Have you got much homework?” or “What happened today at school?” he just answers with a “Phrrrmph” noise, or rolls his eyes or ignores them.
I’m not feeling Ms. Chatty either tonight, so it’s not the liveliest dinner table. In fact, we all look up in relief when Felix comes in from the playroom in his tractor pyjamas.
“I didn’t do my homework,” he says, looking worried. “My homework, Mummy.”
He’s holding out some kind of transparent folder with a sheet in it.
“Oh, for God’s sake,” says Mum.
“Homework?” says Dad. “For a four-year-old?”
“I know.” Mum sighs. “It’s nuts.” She pulls out the sheet and it’s a big photocopied page entitled Why we love each other. Under the heading, Felix has drawn what I assume is a picture of us. At least, there are five figures. Mum looks pregnant and Dad looks like a gnome. I have a head the size of a pin and twenty very large circular fingers. But, you know, apart from that it’s pretty accurate.
“ ‘Fill in the box with help from your family,’ ” Mum reads. “ ‘For example, “We love each other because we give each other cuddles.” ’ ” She reaches for a pen. “OK. What shall I put? Felix, what do you love about our family?”