Stephen stands at the door and he is not sure whether to go in or not. This is Stephen with a ph, not a v. He wears baseball caps because he has this idea that the cap somehow distracts people from his ears which he doesn’t particularly like. He has twelve baseball caps he thinks. ‘Ears are ears,’ Stephen’s dad always says. ‘They’re for hearing not for looking.’ Stephen appreciates the sentiment but he wears the caps anyway. Stephen’s dad is inside the door where Stephen is standing. He is lying down on the couch in his pyjamas. Stephen’s dad looks grey and pasty. Maybe he’s asleep. He sleeps in the afternoons. He tends to. Stephen feels suddenly like he might be sick. His shoes seem tight on his feet and a chill sweat creeps up on the back of his neck. The penny drops into the abyss. The kitchen is a shambles and it has been since breakfast. There are crumbs on the sideboard, there is dust on the stereo, there is sand in his bed. He’s not sure whether he set the machine to record Dr Who and what he’s supposed to wear to the thing at Jan’s. When is that thing?

He cannot keep the chaos at bay and he knows it. He makes a noise like a growl. Like a wounded animal. Stephen’s dad says nothing. Maybe he is asleep. Stephen waits at the door.


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