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The sky s full of it. Stop what? Then there was sex. What do you suggest? I feel like I m an instrument being tuned up. I have to go soon. What did they say? It s not just the colour, but the shortness of it, stubbled like a shaved head. Adam asks him. We were in this room, both in my bed, and I held him in the crook of my arm and he nestled against me and I felt like his mother. Dad offers her coffee, but she declines. It s the only thing that makes sense. But today when she opens the door, Dad s so desperate to get away from me that he s already moving back across the hallway towards the lift. I don t even look at him, because his voice is so clear that if I look I might change my mind. A car s a safe place to be. Fiona says. he yells. Zoey says. Number eleven. A few days later he took me to a heated outdoor pool. He puts down the apple and goes to the bookshelf, runs a finger along the spines of my books, like they re piano keys and he s expecting a tune. something about their due dates being the same . I don t even know if you re going to like this. Get up! I want to lick them. That s it. Although she s texted me every day, she doesn t seem interested in my list any more. An old bloke turns round and jabs a finger at me. Please, Zoey. Stir things. He scrapes his teeth along the soles. Not here! Not quite how you remembered me, eh? Intention to steal is a crime. But I m not telling him any of that. He looks like a cowboy with faraway eyes. My tongue is in his mouth, searching, meeting his. She leans over and kisses me, her breath warm on my face. Yes? What s in them? Two squeezes. We walk along the promenade. But I had a transfusion this morning and other people s blood runs hot through my veins, so I don t stop. When the baby s born, do you think you ll miss the life you had before? Isn t that the idea? Her feet are on the back seat, and her face has appeared alongside my window. I fiddle with one corner, folding and unfolding it into a triangle as I wait for what s going to happen next. Adam does the zip up for me. You re always coming in my room telling me to get out of bed or pull myself together. My name encircles a roundabout. I ve possessed the road and am a glistening circle at the roundabout. he yells. Inside is a box of chocolates. He shrugs, turns back to the house. Now text your dad and say you re staying at mine, and let s get a move on. Richard turns to me, his face serious. Sit with me, Cal, it s all right. Light filters through the window. It s morbid. On either side of the path is grass. What? I just do. ll come. Like three drops of blood falling onto snow. I think maybe she s gone to throw up, but she comes back with a tea towel and thrusts it at me. I notice a small tear in the wallpaper above her shoulder. I thought he d have knocked on the door by now. I ask. Our words sound very loud. Well, then I ll hold you. He shrugs. He nods very slowly. I need more memories. Look at you! He steps into the hallway and tries to put his arm around me as if we re all just going to walk to his car and get in. I know you, I think. I bet Jake grabbed the joint and inhaled so deeply that he didn t have to think about it. Beyond him, the dull pink clouds of morning. 178 Ho, ho! I can tell by the discomfort in his voice what it ll be, and I want to save him from it. That s it then. Mum regards him thoughtfully. I write it quickly in really bad handwriting, so maybe he won t be able to read it. Come on, she says. How do we know they re right? m not. Don t pretend to care. I wash my hands very slowly. But ten days. he shouts. That s only a hundred and sixty days. Zoey sighs. Did I tell you I m picking the keys up in three weeks? A bit. (shelved 137 times as 100-books-to-read-before-you-die) avg … As he gets closer, the noise vibrates the air, so that the trees seem to dance. None of us will be any good to her if we re exhausted. ve discovered something! he asks, and big silent tears fall out of his eyes and plonk onto his lap. It s Saturday! Why not? I tell him yes. I could spend hours on every bit of you, he says. They just text each other. You d think that d make him happy, but he just sits there watching me swallow pill after pill. Would you go to school if you were me? And he nods grudging respect at Zoey. I mean everyone Beth laughs. Seagulls. There s a strange shadow on the ceiling in the far corner that looks like a face. A woman comes up to me. She holds me tight, as if one of us might fall. She blinks at me. Don t you have to be invited? The wooden boards are beginning to buckle with damp. His toes look very long and grey.

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