فصل 10

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فصل 10

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  • زمان مطالعه 11 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER TEN

Alone Without Brad

I phone my mother quickly to tell her where I am, and then I phone Diana.

‘That man’s just using you,’ she says after I’ve told her what I’m doing.

‘No, he isn’t,’ I deny crossly. ‘He’s just… worried about things at the moment. If you met him

‘I know, if I met him I’d understand. I’ve lost count of how many times you’ve said that to me.’

‘It’s true!’ I say hotly. Friends can be very annoying sometimes. Especially when they refuse to believe anything you say. ‘Anyway, Brad said he had something really important to do in Brighton. He wouldn’t have left me all alone here otherwise. I know he wouldn’t!’

‘He’s probably gone round to see Tania while you look after his nephew for him,’ Diana suggests cruelly.

‘Brad and Tania have broken up!’

‘Do you really know that, Alex?’

‘Well, no, but…’

‘You saw one argument, that’s all. It doesn’t mean they’ve broken up. Look, you won’t like me saying this, Alex, but I think you ought to be doing something a bit more useful with your life than chasing after Mr Brad Courtney. Let’s face it, you haven’t really been happy since you met him, have you? And now he’s got himself into this stupid trouble with those fake pictures.’

‘How do you know about that?’ I ask, amazed.

‘It’s in tonight’s newspaper,’ she says. ‘There’s a picture of you too.’

‘Is there?’

‘Yes. Actually, you look really guilty about something. It says, “When our reporter asked the unknown woman who she was, she refused to comment.’”

‘How exciting!’

‘Hmm,’ says Diana. ‘Shall I tell you what I think would be much more exciting? If you wrote down the story you made up for Christopher. If he liked it so much, other children will. You could be a children’s writer.’

‘No, I couldn’t!’ I say, surprised. But then I think about the idea. A children’s writer. It does sound good, I have to admit. ‘I wouldn’t know where to start!’

‘Well, first you get some paper and a pen and then you take the top off the pen and move it over the paper. Easy.’

‘Ha ha. Very funny. Anyway, if it’s so easy, why haven’t you done it?’

‘Because I haven’t got your imagination. Oh, by the way, Barry phoned me. He wondered if you were at my house as he couldn’t reach you at yours.’

‘He’s only been gone one day!’ I complain. ‘Does he expect me to wait in every night by the telephone?’

‘He hasn’t gone anywhere actually,’ Diana says. ‘His work’s been put back for a few days because of the bad weather.’

‘Oh. OK. Well, perhaps I’ll give him a call.’

But actually, after I say goodbye to Diana, it is quite nice to speak to Barry. I don’t have to feel nervous with him. I can just talk.

I tell him everything. Well, almost everything. I leave out most of the things about Brad.

‘So Diana suggested I should write down the story I told Christopher. You know, make it into a book. What do you think?’

‘Fantastic idea!’ he says. ‘Really fantastic.’

Hmm… When I put the phone down, I feel sort of… well, confused. It’s really nice that Diana and Barry obviously believe I could be a writer. The thing is, Brad definitely doesn’t believe it and, at the moment, I’m more likely to agree with him. However, I’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a try, have I? I’ll never know who’s right unless I do.

I make myself a jug of coffee and then I find some paper and a pen and sit down to begin. For a while I just chew the end of the pen and drink the coffee. In my mind I can still hear Brad’s laughter and disbelief. The thought of him coming home to find me still chewing the end of my pen is what I need to make me begin writing. I’m going to show him he’s wrong. By the time he gets back, my story will be finished.

Carefully I write a title at the top of the page. Earth Children. Yes! I really like that. And it hardly took me any time to think of it. Perhaps this writing business is going to be easy after all.

Feeling more confident, I start my story. When I reach the bottom of the page, I stop to read what I’ve written. It’s terrible. The title is the only good thing. I tear the page up and throw it away. Then I begin again, but unfortunately that attempt is just as bad. I feel just the same as I did at school when I had to take an exam. My mind is filled with ideas, but the words I actually write down aren’t the same as the ideas.

After a third attempt I give up and look at the clock. It’s almost eleven o’clock. I’ve used up lots of time writing rubbish. And Brad still isn’t home.

Now I’m not writing, I’m conscious of all the noises outside. The weather still sounds wild and the wind is really strong in the trees. I start to worry about Brad. What if he’s had an accident? What if a tree’s blown down across the road? Or onto his car?

I open the front door and look outside. It is completely dark. I’ve never seen darkness like it. No moon, no stars, no street lamps. Not even any distant street lamps. Certainly no car headlights.

Suddenly something flies right in front of my face. Surprised, I give a little scream.

OK, I know I told Brad I wasn’t afraid of the countryside. I’m not really. Well, at least, only a bit. I’m OK if someone else is with me. But nobody is with me, at least nobody except Christopher, and he’s only six years old. And you know as well as I do that my parents’ house isn’t in the countryside. Well, not the proper countryside like this, anyway.

Christopher probably isn’t used to the countryside either. He could be frightened if he wakes up on his own. Perhaps ‘it would be a good idea to sleep with him. And I’ll leave the lights on outside the bedroom door in case he gets up in the night.

When I go into his room, I find him deeply asleep. There’s just enough room in the narrow bed for me as well. As I climb in next to him he moves a little, but doesn’t wake up. Then I hear him whisper something softly in his sleep, something that sounds like ‘Forest’.

I smile, making myself as comfortable as I can in the small space I have. What I’d really like is to just go to sleep now, quickly and easily while I still feel nice being next to Christopher. What I don’t want to do is start thinking, because I know that if I start doing too much thinking I’ll feel like a failure.

But it’s no use, the thoughts are already coming.

I’m frightened of the countryside at night.

I’m hopelessly in love with someone who prefers to spend his time with his horrible girlfriend instead of me. (Because by now even I know that Diana must be right. Brad hasn’t had an accident. A tree hasn’t blown down. He is with Terrible Tania.) I haven’t bought any Christmas presents yet and there are now only six shopping days to go until Christmas.

I’m not going to become a famous children’s writer.

And it’s not fair!

I lie there for ages, and then just as I’m finally about to fall asleep the telephone rings downstairs. Careful not to wake Christopher, I run down to answer it.

‘Hello?’

‘Well,’ says a familiar voice, ‘if it isn’t little Miss Mystery Woman!’

Tania!

‘Little Miss No Comment!’ she continues.

I realise two things at once. (1) Tania is drunk, and (2) Brad can’t be with her if she’s ringing Hill View House.

‘How can I help you, Tania?’ I ask politely.

‘Well, now,’ she says, ‘let me see. You could disappear.

Yes, that would be good. You could remove your untidy annoying self from Brad’s house, Brad’s gallery and Brad’s life!’

I wait a moment to see if she’s finished. She hasn’t.

‘In fact,’ she continues, ‘I don’t trust you one tiny little bit. Want to know what I think? I think it was you who was responsible for the forgeries. I bet you’ve got the real Ralph Blackman paintings hidden away somewhere!’

‘Now, wait a minute -‘ I start to say, but she isn’t in the mood to listen to me.

‘I want to speak to Brad!’ she says. ‘Get me Brad now!’

I enjoy telling her the truth. Oh, I really do enjoy it. ‘I’m sorry, Tania,’ I say sweetly, ‘but Brad isn’t here. He went into Brighton several hours ago. I’m surprised he hasn’t been in touch with you. Must go now. Bye.’

Tania starts to scream something at me, but I put the phone down on her. I feel good for about ten seconds, and then I’m back to feeling worried again.

Where is Brad?

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