He holds out his phone.
I mean, I don’t know if it helps.
Mum scans the phone, getting agitated as she does so.
So you knew about this meeting with the Lawtons too. Was it your idea?
But you’ve been telling her to “do crazy challenges,” apparently.
She taps the phone.
She says she wants you to give her another “crazy challenge.”
Not that kind of crazy challenge. Just talking to people in Starbucks and stuff.
Mum doesn’t seem to hear him.
Was this, leaving home in the middle of the night, was this one of your “crazy challenges,” Linus?
No! How could you even—
He appeals to Frank.
Would I do that?
Mum, you’re out of line.
Mum rounds on Linus.
All I know is, she was on an even keel till she met you. And now she’s missing.
That is so unfair.
He’s having trouble holding it together.
So unfair. I have to go. Let me know if I can help.
As Linus leaves, Frank turns furiously on Mum.
How could you blame Linus? Of all people. This house is so fucked up.
Mum erupts in a flood of sudden anguish.
She’s missing, Frank! Don’t you understand, she’s missing. I have to try everything, I have to consider everything, every possibility—
She breaks off as Dad appears, breathless, holding his mobile.
They’ve found her. In the park.
Asleep. She was hidden away,
We must have missed her—
He can barely form his words.
They’ve got her.
The weird thing is, I lost my sunglasses that night and I didn’t even notice until Dad suddenly said, “Audrey! You’re not wearing your dark glasses!”
And I wasn’t. My eyes were bare. After all those months. And it took Dad to point it out to me.
We were in the police waiting room at the time, and the nice police woman, Sinead, got the wrong end of the stick and thought we were complaining and that we’d lost a pair of dark glasses on the premises. It took a while for us to explain that I didn’t want them back.
And I don’t. I’m good the way I am. The world seems lighter, although I don’t know if that’s because of the dark glasses or because I’m back on my meds. For now. Dr. Sarah gave me this whole great lecture about the dangers of coming off meds without supervision and how it can cause dizziness (check) and a racing heart (check) and loads of other symptoms and I must promise never to do it again. Which I did.
The stuff she gave me kind of knocked me out, so I’ve been sleeping a lot these last two days, but everyone’s come into my room to see me, like, all the time. To make sure I’m still here, I guess.
Dad has told me about the new song he’s writing, and Frank has shown me endless YouTube clips of knife skills (which he is getting very boring about) and Felix has told me he cut the hair of his friend Ben at school and Ben cried. This is apparently true, according to Dad, but Felix maintains that Ben cried “because he was happy.”
Mum’s been in to see me the most. She sat on my bed all afternoon and we watched Little Women, which is like the perfect movie to watch with your mum when you’re in bed, feeling a bit weird. (The old one with Elizabeth Taylor, in case you’re wondering.)
While we were watching, we decorated these handbags we’d made out of felt yesterday. This is Mum’s new thing: she buys little craft projects and we make them together. Neither of us is very good at it, but…you know. It’s nice. It’s relaxing. It’s not about anything. And Mum just sits on my bed, hanging out, not looking anxiously around the room, not trying to get clues to my thoughts. I don’t think she needs clues anymore. She knows. Or at least, she knows enough.
It was while I was trying to glue an appliqué star onto the front of my bag that I said, “Mum, why don’t you go back to work?”
Mum kind of stiffened. She carefully looped a piece of ribbon into a bow and stapled it before looking up and saying, “Work?”
“Yes, work. You haven’t been for ages. Not since…” I trailed off.
“Well, it’s been difficult.” Mum gave a short laugh.
“I know. But you’re brilliant at your job. And you win prizes and you wear great jackets…”
Mum threw back her head and laughed again. “Darling, you don’t go to work just to wear great jackets.” She thinks for a moment. “Well, most of the time you don’t.”