Chapter 38

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Everything happens in a hurry. Soon I'm showering, pulling on some clothes, throwing some others into a bag and then helping Mum downstairs with wrestling with sleeping bags and dealing with food preparations. Maisie watches us until I usher her around the room, getting her to do small jobs around the house. She's silent and her eyes are blank. I wonder what's going on inside that little head of hers.

I only went camping once. It was a school trip down to Devon somewhere. I remember we had to pass through a field of cows and put up with the smell of methane. It started raining when we pitched our tents, which meant a sleepless night as well as a soggy back.

I do not want to go through that again.

But then which one is worse? Smelling cow farts or spending a few years in prison?

Cow farts definitely.

I tell myself that the whole while we pack the tents and get everything ready. We never used to go out camping as a family very often. Mum and Dad used to go back when they were newly married but when Mum had me, there was never much time anymore. The tents got pushed further and further back into the cupboard.

"It'll be just like those times when I was a scout," Mum tells me whilst folding a warm fleece and placing it gently into her rucksack. I grumble something about cow farts and she smiles before continuing. "You may think it's going to be horrible, but just think of it like a holiday."

A holiday where I get to smell the premium scent of cow gas, I think. Sounds like great fun.

When we think we're done, we double and triple check that everything is underway. It just makes me realise that we probably won't be returning to this house in a long time, if not at all.

Leaving on that happy thought, my mother hoists her pack onto her shoulders, takes Maisie's small hand in hers, and exits out of the house.

I take in a deep breath. It will be the last breath in this house.

Then I close the door gently behind me.

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