Excerpt: 'Twenties Girl'

So what happens is, you write your true feelings down in a text simply because you want to share them, and next minute your ex- boyfriend changes his phone number and tells your parents. He's such a sneak.

"Lara, I know you were very hurt, and this has been a painful time for you." Dad clears his throat. "But it's been nearly two months now. You've got to move on, darling. See other young men . . . go out and enjoy yourself . . ."

Oh God, I can't face another of Dad's lectures about how plenty of men are going to fall at the feet of a beauty like me. I mean, for a start, there aren't any men in the world, everyone knows that. And a five-foot-three girl with a snubby nose and no suntan isn't exactly a beauty.

OK. I know I look all right sometimes. I have a heart-shaped face, wide-set green eyes, and a few freckles over my nose. And to top it off, I have this little bee-stung mouth which no one else in my family has. But take it from me, I'm no supermodel.

"So, is that what you did when you and Mum broke up that time in Polzeath? Go out and see other people?" I can't help throwing it out, even though this is going over old ground. Dad sighs and exchanges glances with Mum.

"We should never have told her about that," she murmurs, rubbing her brow. "We should never have mentioned it-"

"'Because if you'd done that," I continue inexorably, "you would never have got back together again, would you? Dad would never have said that he was the bow to your violin and you would never have got married."

This line about the bow and the violin has made it into family lore. I've heard the story a zillion times. Dad arrived at Mum's house, all sweaty because he'd been riding on his bike, and she'd been crying but she pretended she had a cold, and they made up their fight and Granny gave them tea and shortbread. (I don't know why the shortbread is relevant, but it always gets mentioned.)

"Lara, darling." Mum sighs. "That was very different; we'd been together three years, we were engaged-"

"I know!" I say defensively. "I know it was different. I'm just saying, people do sometimes get back together. It does happen."

There's silence.

"Lara, you've always been a romantic soul-" begins Dad.

"I'm not romantic!" I exclaim, as though this is a deadly insult. I'm staring at the carpet, rubbing the pile with my toe, but in my peripheral vision I can see Mum and Dad, each mouthing vigorously at the other to speak next. Mum's shaking her head and pointing at Dad as though to say, "You go!"

"When you break up with someone," Dad starts again in an awkward rush, "it's easy to look backward and think life would be perfect if you got back together. But-"

He's going to tell me how life is an escalator. I have to head him off, quick.

"Dad. Listen. Please." Somehow I muster my calmest tones. "You've got it all wrong. I don't want to get back together with Josh." I try to sound as if this is a ridiculous idea. "That's not why I texted him. I just wanted closure. I mean, he broke things off with no warning, no talking, no discussion. I never got any answers. It's like . . . unfinished business. It's like reading an Agatha Christie and never knowing whodunnit!"

There. Now they'll understand.

"Well," says Dad at length, "I can understand your frustrations-"

"That's all I ever wanted," I say as convincingly as I can. "To understand what Josh was thinking. To talk things over. To communicate like two civilized human beings."

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