“Life is good.”
“And Linus is still…” She pauses delicately.
“Linus.” I nod. “He’s still Linus. He says hi, by the way.”
“Oh!” Dr. Sarah seems taken aback. “Well, say hi back.”
“And he says, ‘Good job.’ ”
There’s silence and a little smile creeps round Dr. Sarah’s face. “Well,” she says. “You can say that back to him too. I’d like to meet this Linus.”
“Yeah, well, don’t get your hopes up,” I say with a deadpan shrug. “He’s mine.”
MY SERENE AND LOVING FAMILY—FILM TRANSCRIPT
INTERIOR. 5 ROSEWOOD CLOSE. DAY.
LONG SHOT: Linus and FELIX are sitting in the garden. They have a chessboard between them and appear to be playing chess.
The camera pans closer and their voices become audible.
Felix moves a piece and looks triumphantly at Linus.
Linus moves a piece.
Felix moves a piece. Chess.
Linus moves a piece.
He looks at Felix seriously.
This is a good game you invented, Felix.
Felix beams at him.
What do you call it again?
Linus is struggling to keep a straight face.
That’s right. Squares. So why don’t we say “Squares” when we move the pieces?
Felix looks at him pityingly, as though he’s a little dim.
Because we say “Chess.”
Linus looks at the camera.
That tells me.
Mum comes into the garden.
Linus! You’re here! Marvellous. Now, you speak German, don’t you?
Great! Well, you can come and help me decipher my new dishwasher instructions. The whole leaflet’s in German. I mean, German. I ask you.
As he gets up, Felix grabs onto his leg.
Lin-us! Play Squares!
At this moment, Frank comes into the garden and brandishes a gaming magazine at Linus.
Linus, you have to see this.
What is this family LIKE? Stop trying to kidnap my boyfriend, everyone. OK?
Dr. Sarah has said I need to increase my interactions with strangers. It’s not enough just to go to a restaurant and hide behind a menu and let other people order for me. (How did she guess?) I need to talk confidently to unfamiliar people. This is my homework. So Linus and I are sitting in Starbucks and he’s choosing someone random for me to go and talk to.
We did all kinds of role-play in hospital, which was supposed to achieve the same aim. But role-play is role-play. You feel so stupid. OMG it was embarrassing, pretending to have a “confrontation” with some skinny boy who you knew would practically go into a panic attack if you even looked at him. And all the counsellors having to feed us lines when we dried up, and saying “Look at your body language, Audrey.”
Anyway. So role-play totally sucks, but this is kind of fun. Because I’m going to do one and then Linus is going to do one. It’s like dares.
“OK, that guy.” Linus points to a man on his own at a corner table, who’s tapping away at a laptop. He’s in his twenties with a goatee and has a grey T-shirt and one of those cool leather man-bags that Frank despises. “Go up to that guy and ask him if he has Wi-Fi.”
I feel a bubble of panic, which I try to swallow down. The man looks absorbed in his work. He doesn’t look like he wants to be interrupted.
“He looks really busy…” I prevaricate. “What about someone else? What about that old lady?” There’s a sweet-looking, grey-haired woman sitting at the next table, who has already smiled in our direction.
“Too easy.” Linus is adamant. “You won’t need to say a word, she’ll just jabber at you. Go up to that guy and ask about the Wi-Fi. I’ll wait here.”
Everything in my body is telling me not to go, but Linus is sitting there looking at me, so I force my leg muscles to operate. Somehow I’m walking across the coffee shop and now I’m standing right in front of the man, but he hasn’t looked at me. He’s just tapping and frowning.
“Um, hi?” I manage.
“Hi?” I try again.
Tap-tap-tap-frown. He hasn’t even looked up.
I so want to back away. But Linus is watching. I have to see this through.
“Excuse me?” My voice bursts out so loudly I almost jump in fright, and finally the man lifts his head. “I was wondering if you have Wi-Fi?”