“I’m not planning to say a piece,” I point out. “She’s the one who wanted to apologise.”
“She says,” mutters Mum darkly. “She says.”
“Tell us why you want to do it,” says Dad. “Explain.”
“Do you want to hear her say sorry?” says Mum. “We could tell her she has to write a letter.”
“It’s not that.” I shake my head impatiently, trying to shift my thoughts into making sense. The trouble is, I can’t explain. I don’t know why I want to do it. Except maybe to prove something. But to who? Myself? Izzy?
Dr. Sarah isn’t wild about hearing about Izzy or Tasha or any of them. She’s all, like, “Audrey, you aren’t validated by other people,” and, “You’re not responsible for other people’s emotions” and “This Tasha sounds very tedious, let’s move off the topic.”
She even gave me a book about unhealthy relationships. (I almost laughed out loud. Could you get any more unhealthy than the relationship between me and Tasha?) It was about how you have to be strong to break free from abuse and not constantly measure yourself against toxic people but stand strong and distinct like a healthy tree. Not some stunted, falling-over, codependent victim tree. Or whatever.
It’s all very well. But Izzy and Tasha and all of them are still in my mind all the time. They have not checked out of the building. Maybe they never will.
“If I don’t do it, it’ll always be a question,” I say at last. “It’ll bug me my whole life. Could I have done it? Would it have changed things?”
Mum and Dad don’t look convinced.
“You could say that about anything,” says Mum. “Could you skydive off the Empire State Building? Well, maybe.”
“Life’s too short,” says Dad firmly. “Move on.”
“I’m trying to move on. This is part of moving on!”
But as I look from face to face I know I’m never going to persuade them. Never, whatever I say.
So I go to Frank. Who also thinks it’s a bad idea, but the difference is, after we’ve discussed it for about five minutes, he shrugs and says, “Your life.”
Dad’s changed his email password, but Frank soon finds it on his BlackBerry on a memo called New Password (poor Dad; he really shouldn’t leave his BlackBerry lying around), and we get into the account. I was planning to write the email myself, but Frank takes over, and honestly, he sounds just like Dad.
“You’ve been reading too many of Dad’s emails,” I say in awe as I read his words. “This is amazing!”
“Piece of piss,” says Frank, but I can tell he’s pleased. And he should be. The email is totally a work of art. It goes like this:
Dear Mrs. Lawton
Please forgive my wife and me for our intemperate outburst of yesterday. As you can imagine, we were shocked at being contacted by you and perhaps reacted too quickly.
On reflection, Audrey would very much like to meet with Izzy and hear what she has to say. Could we suggest 3:00 p.m. next Tuesday, in Starbucks.
Please do not reply to this email, as my machine is playing up. Please text this number to confirm: 079986 435619.
With best wishes,
That’s my new mobile number. After we’ve sent the email, Frank deletes the email and then deletes it again out of Trash, and I think we’re safe.
And then all of a sudden I feel this lurch of fright. What am I doing? Shit, what am I doing? My heart starts racing, and I can feel my hands twisting up into knots.
“Will you come with me? Please?” I say before I can stop myself, and Frank turns to give me a long look. I dodge it, turning my head, but then sneak a glance back. He’s looking really anxious, like it’s suddenly hit him too, what we’ve done.
“Aud, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes. Yes.” I nod, over and over, as though to convince myself. “Yes. I’m going to do it. I just need a bit of moral support. If you come with me. And Linus.”
“The three musketeers.”
“Something like that.”
“Have you told Linus?”
“No, but I’m meeting him later at the park. I’ll tell him then.”
As I get to the park, I have a really bad moment. One of the old, scary kinds. Everyone around looks like a robot out to get me, and the whole place is crackling with this air of dread and threat. My lizard brain is really not enjoying the experience; in fact, my lizard brain wants to crawl under a bush.
But I’m not crawling under bushes, I tell myself firmly. I’m not listening to any lizards. Even though I feel ill with fear and keep getting these weird, dizzy waves, I manage to stride into the park like a normal person, and spot Linus sitting on a bench. Seeing him anchors me a little. Seeing his orange-segment smile splitting his face, all wide and happy, just for me, feels like someone stroking my lizard brain and telling it to calm down, everything’s fine.