African scrubland? When did the African scrubland come into it?
Do you need a computer to read great literature?
Actually, I’m really getting into my Kindle—
He sees Mum’s face.
I mean, no. Definitely not.
MY SERENE AND LOVING FAMILY—FILM TRANSCRIPT
INTERIOR. 5 ROSEWOOD CLOSE. DAY.
A hand knocks at Frank’s door.
Who is it?
The door opens and the camera proceeds jerkily into the room. It is a tip of teenage stuff. Frank is sitting by the window, playing a game on a 1980s Atari console. Bleepy, tinny noises fill the room.
You could have looked up Uruguay on your phone.
So you’re just messing with Dad.
I need a computer.
The camera focuses on the Atari console.
Where did you find that?
In the loft.
There’s a knock at the door and, in one seamless motion, Frank throws a tracksuit over the Atari console, swivels his chair round, and picks up a book.
Mum comes in and looks around the room.
Frank, this room is a mess. You need to tidy it up.
So what are you up to?
He glances at the camera.
I’m doing it. I’m getting better. Not just baby-steps better, massive-great-strides better. It’s three weeks later and I’m feeling more on top of it than ever. I’ve been to Starbucks three times, Costa once, and The Ginger Biscuit once for milk shakes. I know! Dr. Sarah was like, “Audrey, you are making strides!” Then she told me not to go too fast too soon, yadda yadda, but you could tell she was impressed.
I’ve even had lunch at a pizza restaurant! I had to leave before pudding because the restaurant suddenly got too clattery and threatening—but still, I lasted a whole Quattro Staggioni. Mum and Dad came too, and Linus and Frank and Felix, and it felt like we were…you know. A normal group. Apart from the fact that one of us was sitting there in dark glasses like some sad, wannabe celeb. I said that to Mum and she said, “You think you’re the abnormal-looking one? Look at Felix!”
Which was a fair point, as Felix was dressed in his beloved new morph suit with a tiger mask on top of it, and had a tantrum when we pointed out that he wouldn’t be able to eat any pizza like that.
So that made me feel better. In fact, a lot is making me feel better at the moment. Seeing Linus is definitely making me feel better. We text all the time and he comes over every day after school, and we’ve started playing table tennis in the garden, like, obsessively. Even Frank joins in sometimes.
And today was amazing, because Linus gave me a present. A T-shirt. It has a picture of rhubarb on it and he got it off the Internet. Mum and Dad said “Why rhubarb?” and he winked at me and said, “It’s our thing.”
I’m not sure what makes me happier—the T-shirt or the our thing. I’ve never had an our thing with a boy before. Whichever it is, I’m still glowing. Mum and Dad are out and Frank is doing homework and Felix is in bed and I feel fired up. I feel restless. I’m wandering around the house in my T-shirt, feeling like I want to share all this. I want to talk to someone. I want to see someone
Natalie. I want to see Natalie.
The thought is like a light ray in my brain, so positive, it makes me blink. I want to see her. I want my friend back. Yes. I’m going to do it. Right now.
I’ve nearly phoned Nat a couple of times since I had that talk with Mum. Once I was actually halfway through dialling when I chickened out at the last moment. But today I can face it. I can more than face it.
I get out my phone and key in Natalie’s number before I can change my mind. I know it off by heart, even though I haven’t spoken to her for, like, a zillion years. The last time we saw each other was on that awful last day at school, and she was crying, and I was, like, beyond crying, and it wasn’t the greatest goodbye.
Hi Nat. How are u? I’m a lot better. Love to c u sometime. Auds. x
About thirty seconds later her reply arrives. It’s like she’s been sitting by her phone all this time, all these weeks, waiting.
Which maybe she has. I blink at the text, which goes like this:
OMG Auds. I have been SO WORRIED ABOUT U. Can I come round? Shall I come round now? Mum says it’s fine. Nat xxxxx
I text back:
OK C u soon.
And what seems like five minutes later, the doorbell rings. It might have been ten minutes. It definitely wasn’t any longer than that. She must have left the house that exact second.