She gets the message then. You shouldn ve come if you re going to disapprove. I m different from them all. It is if I tell her. I bet I won t. It s practically the law. I m here. They give you cake and tea and show you how to change nappies and stuff. Come on, he says. Just dump the basket and walk out when you re done. I slip my shirt off one shoulder and raise my arm to show her the metal disc under my armpit. Zoey hesitates, as if she s thinking about this for the very first time. He tries to move me towards the door, but I put my hand flat against his chest to keep him at bay while I think. I ve always known I d be good at kissing. Yes, he says. Then I lie back down and look out at the sky. Does my dad already know? Nothing again. But home is dull. Cancer s not a local illness, he says, but a disease of the whole body. It surprises me. Tessa, he says, it s not good news, I m afraid. He spins it slowly in his hand. Number twelve . A cup of tea? Sit with me, Cal, it s all right. His hair is dark on the pillow, his arm slung across me as if he can hold me here. I nod. It s nowhere near morning. He laughs. 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. Scrawls of desire. He grins, but almost immediately starts to cry, silently at first, and then great gulping sobs. There s sun in my teacup and it s very easy sitting outside this café watching it shine. Kissing Adam replaced it. Don t know how he gets away with smoking dope in here. I watch you. Yeah, I ve got stuff to do in town. I ve never seen such a look on her face before. She looks very primeval as she hitches herself up and makes her way back to me. On the coffee table next to me is one of Dad s car magazines. He holds out a bunch of wild green leaves to me. Can you hear me? Zoey used to live her life as if the human race was about to become extinct, like nothing really mattered. I love you. Wow, that s amazing. Yeah. Like I m an idiot. I think ve scared him because he doesn t try to get in, but strokes me through the duvet – the length of my leg from thigh to ankle, the length of my other leg. It s like turning off the lights one by one. I write in very small letters, like a tooth fairy might write to answer a child s letter. I wanted to go back to Adam s house and creep up to his room and make love. On my chin. I will not have their obscene needles in me today. Zoey s face is alive with panic. His being here doesn t stop my legs hurting though. Stupid woman doesn t know her arse from her elbow. Five s too late. There s the mini mart! I pull him close and hold him. A puddle. She looks genuinely relieved. A shadow flaps its wings at me. Her eyes travel in 175 sorrow to my coat, scarf and hat. Come back later and tell me all about it. These scissors are sharp so it s easy, like sliding metal through water. She can t handle it like I can. I especially want the Creme Eggs, because I love having those at Easter. It could be pandemonium in all those little houses, everyone s dreams in a mess. Publication date 2007 Topics Terminally ill -- Fiction, England -- Fiction Publisher David Fickling Books How healthy he feels, how solid. I ve never been to Scotland. Was it Louise? The wind ll pick up and all the leaves will rip off the trees. Where s it all going to end? 157 Twenty-three Cal comes trotting up from the bottom of the dark garden, his hand outstretched. Think how much fun it would be to drive across Europe. We didn t even go up to the hotel for lunch. And yet, it s extraordinary how happy I feel. I wonder if Adam knows this. Down the aisles, they blink and shift. Ah. on June 28, 2012. The world seems silent and smaller. The shops in the High Street still have their metal grilles down, blankeyed and sleeping. I wait, listening to her pee, then the flush of the toilet. 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