Excerpt: 'Twenties Girl'

And to get back together with him, my mind adds, like a silent, truthful arrow. Because I know Josh still loves me, even if no one else thinks so.

But there's no point saying that to my parents. They'd never get it. How could they? They have no concept of how amazing Josh and I were as a couple, how we fit together perfectly. They don't understand how he obviously made a panicked, rushed, boy-type decision, based on some nonexistent reason probably, and how if I could just talk to him, I'm sure I could straighten everything out and we'd be together again.

Sometimes I feel streets ahead of my parents, just like Einstein must have done when his friends kept saying, "The universe is straight, Albert, take it from us," and inside he was secretly thinking, "I know it's curved. I'll show you one day."

Mum and Dad are surreptitiously mouthing at each other again. I should put them out of their misery.

"Anyway, you mustn't worry about me," I say hastily. "Because I have moved on. I mean, OK, maybe I haven't moved on totally," I amend as I see their dubious expressions, "but I've accepted that Josh doesn't want to talk. I've realized that it just wasn't meant to be. I've learned a lot about myself, and . . . I'm in a good place. Really."

My smile is pasted on my face. I feel like I'm chanting the mantra of some wacky cult. I should be wearing robes and banging a tambourine.

Hare hare . . . I've moved on . . . hare hare . . . I'm in a good place. . . .

Dad and Mum exchange looks. I have no idea whether they believe me, but at least I've given us all a way out of this sticky conversation.

"That's the spirit!" Dad says, looking relieved. "Well done, Lara, I knew you'd get there. And you've got the business with Natalie to focus on, which is obviously going tremendously well. . . ."

My smile becomes even more cultlike.

"Absolutely!"

Hare hare . . . my business is going well . . . hare hare . . . it's not a disaster at all. . . .

"I'm so glad you've come through this." Mum comes over and kisses the top of my head. "Now, we'd better get going. Find yourself some black shoes, chop chop!"

With a resentful sigh I get to my feet and drag myself into my bedroom. It's a beautiful sunshiny day. And I get to spend it at a hideous family occasion involving a dead 105-year-old person. Sometimes life really sucks.

As we pull up in the drab little car park of the Potters Bar Funeral Center, I notice a small crowd of people outside a side door. Then I see the glint of a TV camera and a fluffy microphone bobbing above people's heads.

"What's going on?" I peer out the car window. "Something to do with Uncle Bill?"

"Probably." Dad nods.

"I think someone's doing a documentary about him," Mum puts in. "Trudy mentioned it. For his book."

This is what happens when one of your relations is a celebrity. You get used to TV cameras being around. And people saying, when you introduce yourself, "Lington? Any relation to Lingtons Coffee, ha ha?" and them being gobsmacked when you say, "Yes."

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