“I can’t find my book.” Stella pulled up the cushions on the sofa.
“We’ve been through this before.” Tim said. “The therapist said you don’t need the book. Just take a breath and carry on.”
“I need my book!” Stella snapped. “I’m lost without it.”
“We’ve discussed this.” Tim said. “You can manage fine. It’s just your obsession getting out of hand.”
“But what am I going to do without my notebook?” Stella stood up and turned on the spot, searching frantically for a sign of the plain blue notebook.
“What do you need it for right now?” Tim said.
“What am I supposed to be doing?” Stella checked behind the clock on the mantelpiece, but still no notebook.
“The therapist told me that I wasn’t supposed to help you, but think about it. It’s six in the evening. Shouldn’t we start making dinner?”
“I’m the cook.” Stella said firmly. “You never cut the carrots right.”
Tim sighed. “So why don’t you look for the book after dinner?”
“What am I making?” Stella opened the drawer in the coffee table and started rummaging frantically.
“It’s on the whiteboard in the kitchen.” Tim said. “So I know what to pick up when I’m shopping?”
“I hate it when you shop.” Stella grumbled, pulling the drawer entirely out and tipping it over. She scrabbled through the contents piled high on the carpet, but still found nothing.
“You have to let go of all this nonsense.” Tim said. “It’s affecting Chloe.”
“How am I supposed to know what she needs for school. She has exams coming up.”
“It’s in her planner and on the school website, and, if you really want to do the best for Chloe, you can ask her. She needs to learn to do things for herself.” Tim knelt next to Stella and started putting the stuff back in the drawer.
“She’s only fifteen.” Stella struggled to put the drawer back in. “That’s far too young. And what about the phone numbers?”
“You back your phone up to the cloud every evening before bed and we have an address book on the shelf by the front door.” Tim stood in front of Stella. “Stop.”
“But what about dinner tomorrow? How about when I need to sort out the MOT? I can’t remember when I need to wash the windows!”
“Remember what the therapist said.” Tim caught Stella’s hands. “We need to do the breathing exercises. Okay, breathe in through your nose…” He watched Stella’s expression change and all colour drain from her face. “Stella, what’s the matter.” He followed her appalled gaze and turned around to look out of the window. He felt the weight of the oncoming breakdown settle heavily on his shoulders.
“Do you see that?” Stella swayed but resisted as Tim tried to guide her into a chair.
“It will be fine.” Tim said, hoping he was right as he looked back at his daughter standing defiantly in the garden next to the firepit where Stella’s notebook was brightly burning.