“Frank.” I feel a huge wave of sorrow for him. In fact, I think I might cry for him instead. “Have you told Mum?”
“Told Mum?” he lashes out. “What, so she can stand there and cheer?”
“She wouldn’t!” I say. But actually I’m not sure.
The thing about Mum is, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just, no adults do. They’re totally ignorant, but they’re in control. It’s nuts. The parents are in charge of all the stuff like technology in the house and time on screens and hours on social media, but then their computer goes wrong and they’re like a baby, going, “What happened to my document?” “I can’t get Facebook.” “How do I load a picture? Double-click what? What does that mean?”
And we have to sort it out for them.
So Mum probably would cheer if she heard Frank wasn’t on the team anymore. And then in the next breath she’d say, “Darling, why don’t you take up a hobby and join a team?”
“I’m really sorry, Frank,” I say, but he doesn’t react. The next minute he’s shuffled out of the kitchen and I’m left alone with the Doritos.
“So things haven’t been good.” Dr. Sarah sounds as unruffled as ever.
“They’re OK. But everyone’s stressy. I’ve been in bed a lot. It’s like, I’m so tired all the time.”
“When you’re tired, just rest. Don’t fight it. Your body’s mending itself.”
“I know.” I sigh, my legs hunched up on the chair. “But I don’t want to be tired. I don’t want to be overwhelmed. I want to kick this.”
The words come out before I’ve thought them, and I feel a sudden little jab of adrenaline.
When I say things to Dr. Sarah, it’s as if I’m hearing them for the first time and suddenly they become real. She’s a bit magic, I think. She’s like a fortune-teller—only in the present, not the future. Things change in her room. I don’t know how, they just do.
“Good!” she says. “That’s good. But, Audrey, what you don’t seem to realize is, you are kicking it.”
“No I’m not.” I look at her resentfully. How can she say that?
“I’ve been in bed for, like, the last three days.”
“No-one said getting better would be a straightforward journey. Remember our graph?”
She gets up and heads for her whiteboard. She draws two axes and a jagged red line heading up.
“You’ll go up and you’ll go down. But your progress will be in the right direction. It is in the right direction. You’ve come a long way, Audrey. Remember our first meeting?”
I shrug. Some of our sessions are a bit of a blur, to be honest.
“Well, I do. And believe me, I’m pleased with what I see before me today.”
“Oh.” I feel a tiny glow of pride, which is pathetic. I mean, I didn’t do anything.
“How’s the film going?”
“It’s OK.” I nod.
“Have you interviewed anyone from out of the house?”
“Well.” I hesitate. “Not yet. Not exactly.”
Dr. Sarah waits. This is what she does, like a cop waiting to catch out a criminal. And every time I say I won’t crack first, but I always do.
“OK, there’s this boy, Linus,” I hear myself saying.
“Yes, you’ve mentioned him.” She nods.
“He used to come round to see Frank and I was going to interview him. Only now he doesn’t come round anymore. So I thought…I mean…”
I trail off, not sure what I do mean.
“Maybe you should ask him,” says Dr. Sarah, like it’s no big deal.
“I can’t,” I say automatically.
“Because…” I lapse into silence. She knows why not. It doesn’t need saying.
“Let’s visualize the worst that can happen,” says Dr. Sarah cheerfully. “You ask Linus to come over and he says no. How does that make you feel?”
Trickles of anxiety are running down my back. I don’t like this conversation anymore. I should never have mentioned Linus.
“How does that make you feel?” persists Dr. Sarah. “Audrey, work with me. Linus has just said, ‘No, I won’t come over.’ What are you feeling?”
“I’m totally embarrassed,” I say miserably. “I’m dying. I’m like, oh my God. Like, I’m so stupid…” I screw up my face in agony.