Detailed plot summary - Part three

Chapters 29 - 32

Marcus is relieved that nothing dramatic has happened for some time. He sees Will, Ellie and her friend Zoe regularly; Will has taken him to have his hair cut and has bought him new glasses, and has introduced him to some new singers. One day Marcus’ mother starts crying again for no reason. The crying starts slowly but increases so that one night Fiona sobs uncontrollably. Marcus tells Will about it and at the time they are in the middle of their regular Thursday afternoon routine of toasting crumpets. Marcus goes home and thinks that sometimes Will does not seem very pleased to see him when he goes round to visit him, whereas Ellie always does. However, the next day at school Ellie is in a terrible mood, and when Marcus asks what has happened, Zoe tells him that Kurt Cobain tried to kill himself with an overdose. Ellie adds that Kurt Cobain will definitely kill himself eventually, because he wants to die and hates this world. Marcus feels sick when he hears this and has the sensation that the room is beginning to spin and the colour is draining out of it. Marcus shouts at Ellie, saying she does not know what Kurt Cobain is really like, and then says that he is not even a real person, but only a singer. A few minutes later, Ellie apologises for what she said, and adds that she forgot about Marcus’ mum.

Will feels helpless because he does not know how to help Marcus. He feels that Rachel would know, so he goes to see her. They have been seeing each other for quite some time now. Rachel tells Will that Marcus adores him, which surprises Will. They have coffee and Rachel tells Will that she thinks he must be very strong-minded to live as he does, without a family or a job, because there is nothing between him and despair. Yet she feels that Will is not a very desperate person. He tries to joke that he is too stupid, and they discuss his attitude towards life, and the way that he enjoys food, music and television. Rachel tells him that she was depressed a few years earlier and even considered killing herself, but could not do it because of Ali. Rachel suggests that she could have a talk with Fiona. Will thinks he has never felt so happy.

Marcus is adjusting to the longer, lighter evenings now that winter is over. He feels that everything should be better, including his mother’s depression. Fiona tells him that he has to go to Cambridge to see his dad, as Clive has fallen off a window ledge and broken his collar bone. The next day he tells Ellie about it at break-time and she says that he should go and tell his dad what he thinks of him. She adds that she will go with him and give his dad a piece of her mind too. Marcus daydreams about going on a train journey with Ellie and thinks it would be heavenly. Marcus gets on the underground train and sees an old man opposite him reading a newspaper. On the front is a picture of Kurt Cobain, with a headline saying that he is dead. Ellie tells him that she is not really alright, and brings out a bottle of vodka, announcing that she is going to get drunk.

Will has arranged to go to a pub in Islington with Rachel and Fiona while Marcus is visiting his dad in Cambridge. Will imagines that they will chat for a while over their drinks, and that he will then make an excuse to leave, so that Rachel and Fiona can talk. He arrives at the pub first, and then Fiona comes in. Will thinks that she seems a bit manic and nervous. She sips her gin and ice very quickly, and they talk awkwardly about Marcus. When Rachel has not shown up after half an hour, Fiona asks Will whether she really exists. He goes to telephone Rachel but there is no reply and he realises that he has been set up; Rachel never intended to come. She wanted Will to deal with Fiona himself.

They go to Pizza Express, and Will thinks that the last time he was there was with his ex-girlfriend, Jessica, who always tried to make him unhappy. He thinks how he was never involved with anyone in those days, but now it seems that everybody else’s problems are his problems. He wonders whether he is better off now than when he had no connection to people. They get a taxi back to Fiona’s place, and Will hears about Kurt Cobain’s death on the taxi radio. He worries that Marcus and Ellie will take the news badly. He asks Fiona if he can come in and listen to Marcus’ answerphone message, just to check that he is alright. They then find out that Marcus is calling from a police station in Royston, and he sounds small, lonely and afraid.