'Amandine is refusing to come with us.'
'Oh dear, we've been through all this before. It's really quite unnecessary.'
'She's putting furniture up against her door, Clarissa.''Anthony, this is really too much. Let me speak to her.''She won't yield this time, we only got her there by bribery last time
and she's got all those ghastly teenage hormones going round her now.'
'She's still our daughter and she'll do as she's told until she's no longer living under our roof. This will take two minutes, you just need to be firm and consistent.'
Anthony tilted his head as another scrape-thump of furniture resounded fromthe floor above. He rested his brow on his forearms and waited for thepromised miracle from upstairs. Clarissa looked formidable today in herburgundy suit. One word from her in that outfit and Anthony would buckleunder her glare or stern word but it appeared to him that young people werefar more resilient than him in such matters.
'Amandine! Come out this instance. I will not be made to run late because of your childishness.'Anthony sighed deeply and thought about how much he would give to have the old au pair return and coerce his daughter into a family trip out butClarissa had let her go. She seemed to think her girl was a woman and nolonger required the attentions of a babysitter.
'I shall not be ignored young lady.' Clarissa's growled. 'Come on darling, let's be grown up about this shall we, Uncle M isn't the liveliest ofrelatives but he is still my brother.'There was no response and then Anthony could hear her trying to push thedoor open in a series of short jabs.
'Damn it Anthony,' Clarissa raised her voice, 'something is splittingbecause of this silly girl.'Anthony pulled himself upright and walked to the bottom of the stairs.
'Would you like me to try?' he enquired reticently.
'Your father is coming up now.' She replied, addressing the bedroom door as Anthony wearily climbed the staircase.
'Amandine, love, we're going to be running late. Could you at least speak to us? What's the problem?'
'Good Lord Anthony, we're not in a hostage situation, there's nothing to be gained by negotiating with her.'
'Well we're still trying to get a response your way.' He snapped,regretting the words as soon as they were out of his mouth.
'Fourteen years I have brought this girl up and you think you can undermine me as she sits behind that door while you make a mockery of my parenting?'Clarissa's voice, which had risen in volume was like an unexpected downpourwhen the best you can do is shield yourself from the worst of it and find somewhere to bolt for cover. Anthony edged towards the door andproduced the same horrible splintering sound. He paused but something hadgiven on the other side of the door and it suddenly gave in to his pressureand he found himself stumbling into Amandine's room. The front legs of herchest of drawers had collapsed and toppled the piece over onto the carpet.Her room was unusually chilly but the mess of unattended textbooks and washing remained the same.
'Ah a visit from Captain Hook.' Anthony chuckled behind the relative safety of the door.
‘What has she got to say for herself? We’re running late and I’m leaving in two minutes flat.’
Clarissa poked her head round the door and immediately caught sight of the window swung open to its widest capacity.
‘Oh the minx!’ Clarissa gasped. ‘Let me past you.’
Anthony edged the drawers away from the door and both legs sheered off as he pulled the piece out of his wife’s way.
‘Her grandmother’s!’ She expostulated. ‘I will be having words with her about that. I should never have let her use it.’
She stepped over the adolescent debris to the window and looked at the drop onto the lower roof.
‘Any sign of her?’ Anthony ventured.
‘Nothing but she can’t be far. Go down into the garden she’s probably hiding somewhere there. I’m ringing Magenta to say we’re stuck in traffic.’
Anthony looked at her in disbelief.
‘Do you really think we should still be going?’
‘Oh really Anthony, I don’t know.’ Clarissa clenched her fist anxiously over her mouth and lines of anxiety furrowed her brow.