At breakfast the next morning, Mr. Shears and Christopher's mom get into a little tiff about who long Christopher can stay with them. (Christopher, of course, hears the whole thing.)
That day, she takes Christopher to go buy some clothes and a toothbrush, but there are too many people around. He starts screaming and she has to take him home.
At home, Christopher hides in the spare room because he's scared of Mr. Shears.
When his mother comes home, Christopher tells her that he has to go back home (to his dad's) to take his Math A levels next week. She'll have to take him, because he's scared of his father.
She's very surprised – and impressed – but says it won't be possible to take him back.
Late that night, at around 2:00AM, Christopher can't sleep, so he goes for a walk outside. He likes it because it's quieter than usual outside.
His mother comes running after him, totally freaked out, and makes him promise never to leave the apartment again without her.
And now for something completely different: Christopher's mother loses her job.
When Christopher reminds her he has to go home to take his A levels, she tells him she can't think about all that right now and that he should just lay off.
He realizes he might not be able to take the exam, and feels a terrible pain in his chest – kind of like when the one he had when he was on the train platform.
The next morning, he stares out the window at the passing cars. He sees five red cars in a row (which would mean it's a Good Day) and four yellow cars in a row (which would mean it's a Black Day) – very confusing. Since he can stare out the window as long as he wants, the system no longer works. Hmm.
That afternoon, his mother tells him she called the school and arranged for him to take the Math A levels next year.
Um, not cool, mom.
He starts screaming and his chest really hurts – he's really, very pissed. In fact, with all this, Christopher stops eating.
The following day, he takes a radio and tunes it between two stations so all he can hear is white noise. He turns it up really loud and puts it up to his head until it hurts enough that it drowns out the pain in his chest. Well, that's one strategy.
Mr. Shears comes home drunk and wakes Christopher up to say things like, "You think you're so f***ing clever, don't you? Don't you ever, ever think about other people for one second, eh?" (233.48).
Christopher's mother wakes up and takes him away, apologizing to Christopher.
The next morning, she packs a couple of suitcases, and she and Christopher drive back to Swindon.
Christopher says he doesn't want to live with his father and he also reminds her that tomorrow is the day he's supposed to take his exam.
In response, his mother spills some heavy beans: she says the reason they're leaving is that she's worried Mr. Shears might hurt her.
Smart lady to get the heck out of there.
Back in Swindon, his father comes home and he and Christopher's mom begin to argue. That's Christopher's cue to go upstairs, groan, and bangs things to drown out all that noise.
Christopher's mother comes up to apologize, saying she's trying to do the right thing.
But all Christopher cares about is taking his A levels. He compares the way he feels to "pressing your thumbnail against a radiator when it's really hot and the pain starts and it makes you want to cry" (233.86).
Christopher's mother makes him some dinner, but he doesn't eat it. He doesn't sleep that night either.
The next day, Mrs. Shears sees Christopher with his mother, and she says some mean things to his mom. Man, adults are kind of cruel in this book, aren't they?
Christopher's mother drives him to school, and meets Siobhan.
Christopher tells her he can't think straight because he hasn't been eating or sleeping. But Siobhan says he can still take his Maths A levels if he wants.
He knows his brain really isn't working right, but he still wants to take the test.
During the exam, he has a really hard time thinking, and it makes him want to "hit somebody or stab them" with his Swiss Army knife (233.107). Luckily, there's no one around to stab (someone really needs to confiscate this knife…).
That night, at their house, Christopher screams when his father comes home, but his mother tells him he's safe.
Christopher goes into the garden and stares at the sky. His father comes out, too, and stands there for a long time looking at Christopher. Finally, he punches the fence and leaves.
The next day, he continues the A level test.
That night, a taxi pulls up to the house and Mr. Shears gets out, carrying a cardboard box full of Christopher's mother's stuff. He throws it onto the lawn, gets into his car (the one that Christopher's mother had taken) and drives away.
This is clearly not an amicable split
Sure enough, Christopher's mother runs after the car yelling obscenities.
Mrs. Shears watches this from her window: that's some definite schadenfreude.
The next day, Christopher finishes the exam. Immediately after he's done, his chest doesn't hurt anymore and he can breathe again. Whew – that's some major post-test relief. But he still feels sick, because he's worried he didn't do very well on the exam.
Christopher's father comes to the house to ask how things went on the exam. Christopher is still scared, but with some comfort from his mom, he tells him he's not sure how it went: his brain wasn't working right.
His father says "Thank you," in a really sweet and emotional way and then tells Christopher how proud he is of him. Let's savor this moment.
The following week, Christopher's father tells his mom she has to move out of the house. Problem is, she doesn't have any money to rent an apartment (especially now that she doesn't have a job again).
Christopher asks his mom if his father is going to go to prison for killing Wellington. Because, you know, if he did, they could live in his house. Unfortunately for Christopher, his mom says no, he isn't going to jail.
His mother manages to get a job working as a cashier. She also gets a prescription for antidepressants: they help with her depression but sometimes make her feel dizzy.
She and Christopher move into a very small apartment with a shared bathroom. Christopher hates it, and sometimes he wets himself if his mom is using the bathroom.
He isn't allowed to be home alone, so when his mother is at work he has to go to his dad's house. When he's there, he locks himself into his room and refuses to speak to his father.
His father tries to talk to him through the door, and sometimes just sits quietly on the other side of it. At least he's trying – we have to give him some credit for that.
On a side note, Toby the rat dies. That's all we hear about that.
Christopher's father says he'll do whatever it takes to get Christopher to trust him again. He even suggests that they make the whole trust-building thing a project.
Then, in an awesome twist, he shows Christopher that he's bought him a puppy. Puppy!
The dog comes over and sits in Christopher's lap. He names him Sandy. Good call.
While they're sitting with Sandy, Christopher's dad says, "Christopher, I would never, ever do anything to hurt you" (233.155).
We believe him.
The results from Christopher's exam arrive. Drumroll please…
He gets an A! Which, if you remember, is the best possible grade. Not too shabby, Chris. He's pretty psyched about it, too.
Some time later, his mother gets the flu and he has to stay with his father for a few days. But now he feels safe there again because Sandy sleeps in his bed with him. Nothing a little puppy cuddling can't cure.
He makes plans to take the A level "Further Maths" exam next year, and the Physics A levels the year after that, and he's pretty sure he'll get an A grade in each of those, too.
Then he plans to move to a different town to go to university, get a "First Class Honours Degree," and become a scientist (233.169). This kid dreams big.
The reason he knows he can do all of this is because he went to London on his own and found his mother, he solved the mystery called "Who Killed Wellington?," and he wrote a book. And "that means [he] can do anything" (233.170).