Dad and Mum were sitting in the conference room, not looking at each other

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Dad was dressed in a buttoned-up blue suit, to go with his striped tie
(also red and white). He’d dressed like he was going to court, and Mom was
going to court, which was a big fancy meeting with lawyers and judges and
paralegals. The law firm was in on it too, at the risk of losing money.

“Let’s go!” Dad said in a loud, commanding voice as he passed George on the
way out of the room.

“You got an amazing suit there, Jules.”

“I was in court yesterday,” Mum said, still not looking at him.

“Were you? What were you there for?”

Mum took a deep breath and turned to look at him. This was a rare chance to
see her as a child, before she’d married Dad and started wearing
the fake eyelash and pink lip, and starting to look so adult.

She pulled a face. “I’m not sure yet. It’s a surprise.”

“Ooh, well, let me know when you do,” Dad said, his eyes dancing. “I’ll come with you, if I may.”

“No, I’ll come with you,” George said.

“Yeah, right!” Mom said. “We do not want to miss out on this exciting
part!”

“Yes, we do,” George said, looking at her, and then back at Dad. “We want to see and experience everything.”

“If it’s as exciting as you think, we will all have a great time,” Dad said. “And you, my dear, will be sitting with Miss I.W.”

“Who?”

“Iris, right now,” Dad said, and smiled.

“Oh,” she said.

“And I am hoping that George and I will be able to take you home at the
end of the trip,” Dad said. “It is a big day.”

“Okay,” said Mum. “So can I tell anyone that I’m on vacation?”

“Yes,” Dad said, smiling, looking at the two of them. They were both looking
toward George and the dog. George had the most brilliant smile, and the dog,
Daffodil, was a little more laid-back.

“Is she going to work with us?” Ella said. “It looks like she’s going to
be in charge.”

“Only temporarily,” Dad said. “That’s my job, and I’m fine where I’m at,
actually.”

“So am I,” Mum said.

Dad had been trying to tell me in the past few months while in this
little town, I think because I’ve been so interested in their little town
and what was happening there, but he hadn’t been able to actually talk
about it, so I’d imagined it was like the TV show “The Bletchley Circle”
– they used to meet up in that little town where they’d all made it. But there
was no meeting place and they’d just met there, in a small room (he was a
spy). There was nothing about this trip they were going on, so he wasn’t
faking anything. This trip was about the adventure, and I think Dad had just
come to share in the adventure, in the sense that he was so excited about it,
and he really wanted to spend some time together, and meet my new mum and
grandfather.

“See, this is what you want, Jules,” Mum said. “You want that
possible, the excitement, the adventure. You don’t want to be back home and
trying to fit in, worrying about school and homework and studying and
everything, and you get to go on this great adventure, and you don’t have to
worry about school or homework, and you get to spend more time with your
family!”

I knew this was a lie and that if he told me the truth, I wouldn’t want
to go on this adventure, because I don’t really feel there’s a point in it.
I’ll probably never see my cousins since we live in different cities, and a
long separation will mean that I won’t have any grandparents to go visit with,
and I’m not convinced I’ll ever have the opportunity to see my big sister
again. This way, Dad had found a way to share in the adventure he really cared
about, without putting himself under a lot of pressure. He just told
everyone he’d been in court, and he’d like to see the end of the world.

“Let me tell you the truth, Jules,” he said. “I’d like very much to see
the end of the world.”

“Oh, gee, thanks!” Ella said.

Tash was in the corner, looking at Dad and smiling. “Hi, Dad. I love you
so much.”

“I love you too, little miss.”

“I love you too!” Tash said to him. “Tell me about the family!”

She didn’t seem worried about the fact that Dad didn’t know what he was
talking about. He didn’t seem to know what he was talking about, either. He
talked about his family like he’d been telling me his family for years, and
he talked about his family to anyone and everyone, and I had no idea what he
was talking about, how he knew what his family looked like, or why he was
giving so many different descriptions to different people.

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