The sweltering July heat is making me crazy. Or maybe I’ve been crazy for ages. Why else would I lock myself down here?

“I’m taking you to the doctor,” Little Jo says.

She’s fixing a hole in my sock with an actual needle and thread.

“I’m not going to the doctor,” I tell her.

“Well, I’ll bring the doctor here.”

“No way.”

“She doesn’t need a doctor,” Ella says.

I look at my best friend gratefully.

“She just needs some ‘rest’.”

I hear the inverted commas but I don’t comment on them. Little Jo ignores them too.

“She’s hardly been exerting herself for the last month.”

“She’s been having a hard time.”

“Staying down here for the rest of her life isn’t going to help.”

“Are you saying you’re going to kick her out?”

Little Jo looks affronted.

“Of course not.”

“None of this is her fault.”

“Who’s saying it is?”

“Hey, I’m right here,” I yelp.

I seriously think they might have forgotten.

“Don’t I get any say in the matter?”

“Of course you do, honey,” Ella says – not meaning it at all. “And, anyway, we’ve got FTRE in less than two months. There’s no way any of us are missing that. We’re going to put all this shit behind us. And you, Cynthia, are going to start again.”

I know I’ve said the same thing myself, but I’m not sure I believe it anymore. Or if I ever really believed it in the first place.

“I can’t do it,” I say. “I’m a virtual agoraphobic . You can’t make me. You don’t know what will happen.”

“Maybe not but I do know you’re not an agoraphobic,” Little Jo says. “And I do know everything’s going to work out for the best.”

I sigh. Maybe she’s right. Maybe she’s not.

“Fine,” I agree.

It’s not as if the event is tomorrow. Everything might be better by then. I’m pretty sure it won’t be. But there’s no need to have that argument right now. I haven’t got the energy for it.

Little Jo stands up and passes me my sock. It looks brand new.

“Amazing,” I say.

And I mean it. It’s not as if I have any particular affection for this particular sock. I’d have happily thrown it in the bin. But it does look brand new and I do feel like I’ve been taught a lesson in wasting not and wanting not. My mum would be pleased. She’s a fixer. A forager. Not the type of mum any young teenage girl would choose. And her constant reminders to be careful and to make everything last always drove me mad. Right now, though, I feel a sudden, overwhelming nostalgia for that time.


I must be sicker than I thought.

Oh well. There’s no point is worrying. What’s done is done. What will be will be. Maybe if I lie in this heat long enough, I’ll melt like an ice lolly. By tomorrow, I’ll be a puddle on the floor.

How lovely.

Find out how Cynthia got here. Start N-N-N-N-Nineteen from the beginning.