I don’t bother pointing out to Alexa that she’s just given me advice, when she’s always accusing me of mothering you. I start the car and go into reverse. The backing lights paint the underbrush white. Yoo-hoo, here I am. I can’t turn off these bright eyesores, which are normally useful but a real pain when you’re trying to make a getaway.

I emerge from my hiding-place. Branches screech against the car’s body. I back up until I reach the track, a long green tunnel streaked with sunbeams. I’m expecting enemy cars to hem me in, but in front of me there’s nothing but emptiness into which I move forward. There’s no question of turning back. Weeds whip against the underbody. My tires plunge into puddles of water. I wish I were driving an SUV.

Did I dream it? Alex could be right – posting about my life may make me feel obliged to tell you extraordinary things. The more of you there are following me on InLine, the more I rack my brains to please you. So I may be going crazy, except I didn’t dream that message from my mother. It’s written right here before my very eyes: “I can’t go bowling with you.”

I come out into a clearing where a hiking path starts, with maps and trash cans. In the distance, at the end of the tunnel, a car has just passed on the main road, in a silvery flash. Then another, and another. The traffic is still pretty heavy.

My tail may be parked near the intersection. I come to a halt, open the door and put my feet on the ground, my phone wedged against my chest. Mystic takes my place on the driver’s seat. She looks around, but does not deign to get out. Dead leaves, how horrid. She’s not sure what she wants to do, either.

I walk back to the edge of the forest. On the road, cars are passing in both directions. Nobody’s parked on the roadside, and especially not an ordinary metallic-gray SUV. I’m an idiot. What a dope! I was fooling myself all along.