Valorie walked home trying not to think about what just happened. She seemed to have upset Charley, but how? What had she done? She didn’t know. Gloomily, she made her way home.
When she got in, her mother was sitting at the table, looking moody.
‘Hello, Mum,’ Valorie said cautiously. ‘Are you OK?’
‘Fan-bloody-tastic,’ she said. She took a puff from her cigarette.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘It’s your father, Val, that’s all. I’m going to have a few words with him when he gets home.’
‘Has he done anything wrong?’
‘It doesn’t matter. I’m sorry, Val, I don’t mean to be in a horrible mood when you come home. Maybe you’d prefer a mother who welcomed you in with open arms and a plate of cucumber sandwiches.’
‘Nonsense. You’re my very favourite mum,’ Valorie said, giving her mother a hug.
‘Thanks, Val.’ She took another puff. ‘Will you be alright to stay in your room for a bit when I talk to Dad this evening?’
‘Sure. You don’t have to cook if you don’t want,’ Valorie said, trying to be helpful. ‘We could get takeaway.’
Mrs Morse thought. ‘I could murder some fish and chips. I don’t think I’ve got enough money out though.’
‘Well, I’ll check the freezer then, see if there’s anything I can bung in the oven.’
‘OK, you do that.’
Valorie walked over to the freezer and looked inside. Nothing but a few fish fingers and some mixed veg.
‘Wait a minute Val, I’ve got a fiver here, what have you got?’
‘I’ve got about three quid upstairs.’
‘Great. We’ll get fish and chips then. You don’t mind walking down to get them, do you?’
‘No, I don’t mind.’
Valorie walked down to the chip shop, the money clenched in her fist. She’d done a lot of walking today, she thought. How many calories was that? Two hundred maybe?
She got two small fish and chip suppers, and kebab meat and chips for her dad. She bought a small bottle of pop for herself, and sneakily drank it on the way home. When she reached the door, it was apparent that they were inside already, arguing.
Valorie took out her key.
‘So how long have you known?’
‘About five years, what difference does it make?’
‘It makes a lot of difference! We’ve been married four years, and you never thought of telling me!’
‘Since when do you care about things like this?’
‘Carl, this is a big deal. It’s a very big deal. This changes who you are. This could become a part of your identity! God, I can’t believe you haven’t thought about all this!’
‘Who cares if I am a Wizard? Nobody has to know. Is that what all of this is about? Are you worried your friends are going to gossip or something?’
Valorie carried the food into the kitchen. She felt as if a large glob of ice water was slithering down her spine.
‘Why do I feel like you’re not listening to me? Just listen! I’m upset because you never told me.’
There was a pause.
‘It’s like you don’t trust me, Carl.’
There was a longer pause. Valorie used the pause to put the food on plates. She made a lot of noise, in case they hadn’t noticed her coming in.
Her mother spoke. ‘Does Valorie know?’
‘No. I never told her anything.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with being a Wizard, Meg.’
Valorie held her breath.
‘Are you there, sweetheart?’
‘Yeah, Mum. Shall I come through?’
Valorie walked nervously through. Her parents were standing about two feet away from each other. Her mother’s arms were folded.
‘Hi Val. Did you get the fish and chips home?’
‘Good girl. Why don’t you go and eat your in the spare bedroom. You can put a movie on or do whatever you want, OK?’
Valorie walked to the kitchen, trying not to let the silence cut into her. Clutching her plate, she dragged herself up the stairs. She didn’t want to hear any more.