‘As you’ve decided not to go into school today – rather unwisely, I might add – I can spend the next few hours working through this problem with you,’ Charley said. ‘I’ve got to teach Eddie too, so we won’t have all day.’
‘Any questions before I phone O’Hanlon?’
‘Yes. Can I use your bathroom?’
‘Very well. Remember, one sheet of paper only.’
Valorie hid her grin as she climbed the stairs. ‘You’re very stingy.’
‘That fruit bowl was worth a lot of money. I’m a poor man, now.’
‘Yeah, right.’ She turned for the bathroom.
‘One sheet! Use both sides!’
Valorie talked to Eddie while Charley was on the phone. She had brought her own pocket television, and was flicking through the channels.
‘So. Can you give me the dirt on Charley?’
Eddie gave her a shove. ‘No! He’s my friend, how very very dare you.’
‘Well, what can you tell me? Whenever I ask him about himself, he changes the subject.’
‘I know. I’ve never got anything out of him either. Do you know how old he is?’
‘He says he’s eighteen. He’s clearly not.’
‘No, you’re right. He’s twenty-seven. Don’t tell him I told you.’
‘Why?’ Valorie said. ’Twenty-seven is hardly old. How old are you?’
‘The same. So, you’re a Wizard. What do you do?’
‘I do etheric projection.’
‘Cool! I wish I could do that, but I’m restricted to walking through walls, and sound manipulation.’
Eddie turned on the television. The Jeremy Kyle show was on.
‘So you say your daughter hasn’t contacted you for over eight years…’
‘Listen,’ Eddie said, and she stared at the screen.
Valorie was shocked. Jeremy was clearly still talking to the victim onscreen, but she was hearing – ‘I would like to take this opportunity to say hello to a certain somebody out there. Valorie Morse, this one’s for you. And now, the end is near, and so I face, the final curtain…’
Valorie covered her ears, giggling. ‘Oh my God, that is brilliant! How do you do that?’
Eddie flicked the TV off again. ‘Secret!’
Valorie laughed. Eddie was fun to talk to.
Charley re-entered the room.
‘I spoke to O’Hanlon,’ he said gravely. ‘He’ll show up in a few hours, so we’d better get these sessions over with. Valorie, you first.'
Valorie looked at Charley. His etheric body hovered over a wooden bowl full of fruit. ‘Don’t want you breaking another one,’ he said.
Valorie dearly wished she knew how to speak. But she barely knew how to grab an apple from a bowl, never mind talk.
‘Just glide forward a few more inches,’ Charley said.
Valorie managed it. She concentrated hard on grabbing the apple, clenching herself up tight… but she felt herself explode outwards before whooshing back into her body.
This time, she found herself in Charley’s bathroom. She returned to the living room with a glum look on her face.
‘Sorry,’ she mumbled.
‘Never mind,’ said Charley. He looked exhausted. ‘Try again.’
Valorie spent the next half hour trying, but the result was always the same.
‘I don’t think I can do it, Charley,’ Valorie wailed. ‘We’ve been doing this for hours, can’t we just watch some videos or something?’
‘You can’t give up now,’ Charley said with tired eyes. ‘You’re really close.’
‘I can’t do any more,’ she whined. ‘I need to recharge for a few hours. Please can we have a break?’
Charley’s shoulders sagged.
‘OK,’ he agreed. ‘If you’re really too tired we can take half an hour. Are you hungry?’
‘I’ve got my lunch with me,’ Valorie said, digging it out.
‘Good. You go ‘recharge’, while I get on with Eddie. OK?’
Valorie settled on the carpet with her lunch – a cheese sandwich, prawn cocktail crisps and a bottle of pop.
There was a knock at the door. Valorie opened it. It was Arthur O’Hanlon.