By: Heide Goody

We’ve thought long and hard about this, and done some real soul-searching, and decided that now was the right time both for us and for you.

I’m sure this has come as a bit of a surprise but it’s an exciting surprise, isn’t it?

We’ve hardly been able to contain ourselves. This is such an opportunity, as much for you as it is for us. We didn’t want to tell you about it at the time because you might have got cold feet (do you remember that time when you refused to go on stage at the ballet recital?). We didn’t want you to worry and we didn’t want you causing a scene by trying to change our minds.

Look at this as your big chance. We spoke to Adam. As you know, he’s away on his lecture tour of the States. He’s said you can stay at his flat on Silver Street for a few days while you look for your own place. We’ve had all your things sent over there. Don’t worry. We’ve not binned anything. The combination to the key safe is Nanna Shap’s birthday.

We have provided a little something extra for you though. We had a word with Pat and Dom. They said that the job at the museum really worked out for Melissa —

“Cookie,” I said out loud, shaking my head.

“Pardon?” said a man passing by on the pavement.

“I was just saying, ‘Cookie’. No one calls her Melissa. Not even her parents.”

“She’s not in,” said the man.


“Mrs Llewellyn,” said the man, pointing at the house.

He was a handsome if intense looking fellow not much older than me. Having said that, he was wearing corduroy trousers and a tweedy looking jacket so it was sort of like he was an elderly-gent-in-training.

I carried on reading.

— really worked out for Melissa and the application forms are all on-line so we filled one out for you. We couldn’t remember if you got a D or an E at GCSE Maths, so we played it safe and put you down as a C. Your interview is at 5 pm on the seventeenth. That is the day you get back, isn’t it? The interview is with a Mr Rex McCloud at the big museum and gallery. Wear something nice!

Knock ‘em dead, sunbeam

Mom and Dad xxx

There was no address on the letter – not at the top, not at the bottom, not on the back of the envelope. They’d left me and not told me where they’d gone.

“This is terrible,” I said.

“Can I help?” said the man. He was still standing there on the pavement.

“I’m looking for my parents,” I said.

“They don’t live there,” he pointed out.

“I know,” I said, shaking the letter at him. “I can read.”

He gave me a firm stare. Yes, a very intense looking fellow. It was probably the eyebrows that did it. He had dark hair: a thick comma of it hung over his right eye, nearly down to his eyebrow. Those eyebrows were so thick and dark, I couldn’t decide if they were brooding and masculine eyebrows or bushy, don’t-trust-me-I’m-a-werewolf eyebrows. Fifty percent James Bond, fifty percent wolfman: secret agent wolfman, in corduroy.

“Ah,” he said, suddenly understanding. “You mean the previous occupants. The Belkins.”

I didn’t like the idea of myself or my parents being referred to as previous occupants. I was still grieving.

“You know my parents?”

“No. I just know they cancelled their papers,” he said, which was an odd thing to say. “Have you tried phoning them?”

“Of course, I’ve tried. Hang on.” I pulled out my phone and dialled my mom’s mobile number. It made a funny noise. I looked at the screen.

“What does number unobtainable mean?” I said.

“Apart from meaning the number can’t be obtained?” he asked. “It might just mean they’re somewhere without a signal.”

“Oh, God. They’ve moved to Africa!”

“Or, for example, Wales,” he offered. “Anyway, I’m sure you’ll get through eventually.”

Shaking my head, I turned away and got back into the taxi. My mind was reeling. It was unthinkable that my parents would abandon me. How could they do this after twenty-five years of caring for me?

“Change of plan,” I said to the driver. “I need you to take me to my parents please.”