Bitter 51

Britta had checked the time when she exited New World the day  before. Time of death, 4.06 PM. That meant she couldn’t log back in until the same time today, Sunday. It was 8.00 AM right now. She had the whole day to wait.

Her parents were also coming back today, which made things a bit trickier. Mum had left a note with the hotel number and flight details. The plane was due to land at Heathrow at 7.00 PM. That meant they would be home after 8. Four hours in game to… she didn’t even know why she was so keen to get back into the game. Addicted already? But she might never get another chance to play it. She’d at least like to meet the Great Gnome in the Sky.

Wasn’t there a way to make them stay in Paris, catch a later flight? She grabbed her phone from the bedside table—no messages—and sent a text to Mum.

You can stay in Paris a bit longer, if you want.

She immediately received a text back.

What’s wrong? What happened? Are you okay?

Was it really so unusual for her to be nice that it immediately set alarm bells ringing?

I’m fine. I just thought since you’d abandoned me, you might want to make it permanent.

She added a crying emoji waving bye-bye.

Sweetie, we didn’t abandon you. We just needed a break from your overwhelming love and affection.

That was definitely Dad. A little sarcasm from her, and they were back to being the negligent parents of her dreams. But how to delay their return?

Call Marisa, I think she might be pregnant.

Her sister’s place was on the way from the airport. Maybe they would stop in to check on her.

Again?

It was hard to read between the lines, but that sounded like they weren’t going to bother. Her sister had a history of thinking she was pregnant.

She was crying on the phone. I think Charles may have cheated on her.

None of these were true, she hadn’t spoken to Marisa in weeks, but they were all very possible.

Again?

This time it felt like Mum would follow up. Which was strange because the texts were identical.

She got up and changed into some gym clothes appropriate for rock climbing. Which was dumb since her real body wouldn’t be anywhere near any rock walls, but it felt appropriate. She still had a long time to wait before she could get back in the game. She ate breakfast and sat in front of the last of her homework without looking at it.

Her phone buzzed.

We’re going to pop into Marisa’s on the way back. Ten mins tops. Love you.

Ten minutes? Not likely. She’d bought herself an hour at least. Mum must have phoned Marisa and discovered some other disaster (or possibly one of the ones Britta had fabricated had turned out to be real).

Britta felt a surge of accomplishment. Problem solving, that’s what she liked about the game. She opened her French text book and quickly went through the chapter they’d been assigned. She needed to make the best use of her time while she was free. Then she would go into the game and finish the quest. The Great Gnome was waiting.

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