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.I want her awake and enjoying the anticipation with me, so at six I get up and make Sarah’s favorite breakfast, French toast with sliced banana and maple syrup, and a large mug of hot chocolate.I place our plates and mugs on the table and go into the bedroom to wake her up.“Are we going to the snow now, Mommy?” Sarah asks the moment she opens her eyes.She sits up, immediately bright and alert.“Is it time to go?”“Not yet.” I sit on the bed and hug her.“But I’ve made French toast, a big, enormous pile of it, and hot chocolate.I hope you’re very hungry.”“Yummy yummy.” She pushes the blankets from her legs, stands up, and runs from the room, leaving me there, smiling, alone.I follow her into the dining room and find her already kneeling on her chair, eating with gusto.“Are you having some, Mommy?” she asks, her mouth full.“There’s enough for you.”“I should think so.” I sit opposite and take a piece of French toast from the tray and put it on my plate.“Actually, I think there might be enough for ten.”“I don’t think so.” Sarah shakes her head and looks serious.“I’m very hungry.I need ten today.French toast is my most favoritest.”And she does manage to eat an extraordinary amount—and gulp down her hot chocolate between mouthfuls.And as soon as she’s finished, she scrambles down from her chair.“I’m going to get ready now,” she says.“I think we’ve got a very big day ahead of us.”I laugh at the way she has appropriated one of my phrases, her attempt to be grown up.“We do.A very big day.But we’ve still got lots of time.”“I want to be ready,” she says.“I want to be ready before the sun.”16And I hear it again.The knocking, gentle but insistent.Whoever it is has been knocking for more than ten minutes and I’m tired of trying to ignore it, sick of pretending that I’m not here.I go to the door but don’t open it.“Go away,” I say.“It’s the middle of the night.Go away.”“Katherine.It’s me, Robbie.” And his voice is so familiar and comforting, and so filled with kindness, that I almost start crying again.“And Philippa’s here, too.Please let us come in.”“Is Alice with you?”“No.”I sigh and release the dead bolt.I turn and walk away down the hall without greeting them, leaving them to push the door open themselves.I know they mean well, that they are worried about me, but I’m exhausted with the events of the evening and with crying.I want to be left alone.Not to sleep—sleep won’t come—but to be miserable in private.I head to the living room and sit on the sofa, where I’ve been curled up for the past hour.Philippa and Robbie follow me and sit on the sofa opposite.“Alice told us,” Robbie says gently.“About your sister.”I nod.If I talk I’ll start crying again, so I remain stubbornly silent.“Would you prefer it if I left?” Philippa glances at Robbie and then at me.“I just wanted to make sure you were okay.I just wanted to be sure that Robbie found you.But I don’t want to intrude.”I look at Philippa and shrug—she looks dreadful.Her skin is pale and she has deep shadows beneath her eyes, as if the evening has left her shell-shocked.She sighs.“I’ll stay, then, if you don’t mind.I’m too tired right now to actually go anywhere else.”It makes no difference to me if she stays or goes, but I’m suddenly very glad that Vivien is away for the weekend, that she’s not here to witness all this.“Should I make tea?” Philippa says, looking pleased to have thought of something useful to do.“I’d like some.” Robbie smiles at her gratefully.“Katherine?”“Sure,” I say.“But I—”“She likes it made properly,” Robbie explains to Philippa.“The pot and tea leaves are on the shelf above the kettle.”“Are you okay?” Robbie asks once Philippa has left the room.I nod and attempt a smile.“What a shitty night that was.I should have listened to you.I should have gone home early, like you said.” I lean forward and whisper, “Philippa thinks Alice is a complete and utter bitch.She thinks she’s got mental problems.Did she tell you that?”Robbie shrugs.“She really was a total bitch, wasn’t she? Maybe she does have something wrong with her [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]