At school on Monday, Siobhan notices the bruise on Christopher’s face, and wants to know if his father hit him. Christopher isn’t sure because his memory of the fight is vague; all he remembers is that Ed grabbed him. He doesn’t want to talk further about the fight.
Both Christopher and Siobhan are aware that Ed’s behavior could border on being abusive. Christopher seems to be repressing his thoughts about the conflict.
When Christopher gets home, he looks in the trashcan and the garden waste bin for his book, but doesn’t find it. He decides to search the whole house, listening carefully for his father to return from work. He looks everywhere but doesn’t find anything, and finally there’s only Ed’s room left. He’s not supposed to mess with anything in there, but he decides he’ll put everything back where he found it so Ed won’t know. He looks under the bed, in the dressing table, and in the clothes cupboard, where he finds a box with his book in it. Just then, Christopher hears his father’s car. He decides to leave the book, since it’s safe in the box, and so that Ed won’t know he was snooping. For now, he can write in another notebook.
Christopher has not been daunted by the fight with his father, and the loss of his hard work on the book is what bothers him most. This loss leads him to betray his father’s trust more than ever by snooping through his belongings. The fact that Ed has, in fact, kept the book—which means he retrieved it out of the trash—implies that he sees some value in it, despite how angry it made him. Perhaps he appreciates Christopher’s writing project, or perhaps he feels so guilty about Christopher’s innocent ignorance that he has to keep the object of his guilt close.
As Christopher hears the door of Ed’s van close, he notices a number of envelopes underneath the book, all addressed to him. The i’s in his name have been dotted with circles, and the only people he knows who write this way are Siobhan, another teacher, and Christopher’s mother. Christopher hears his father coming into the house, so he takes one envelope and replaces the box in the cupboard.
These envelopes clearly indicate the existence of more secrets. It immediately seems most logical that, out of the three people who dot their i’s with circles, Christopher’s mother is most likely to have written to him. Christopher continues to betray his father’s trust by taking an envelope—but it seems that Ed might have betrayed his trust first by keeping them from him.
Ed doesn’t see Christopher come out of his room, so Christopher goes into his own room and hides the envelope under his mattress before going down to say hello to his father. He tells him about his day, and Ed makes dinner. Afterwards, Christopher goes back up to his room.
While Christopher earlier told white lies to get away with his investigations, he has now moved on to clear deception as he consciously hides his actions from Ed. In a way, this shift marks growth—he is learning to accept life on its own terms, which are often confusing or tricky.
Christopher decides he can open the envelope, since it’s addressed to him. There’s a letter inside from his mother. She writes about getting a job as a secretary and moving to a new flat with someone named Roger. She apologizes for not writing in a long time, and hopes that Christopher won’t stay angry with her forever, and that he’ll write to her. Reading this, Christopher is confused, because his mother never did these things. Then he notices that the envelope is postmarked eighteen months after his mother’s death.
It becomes clear from this very first letter that Christopher is missing many parts of his own story. His mother apologizes for her lapse in writing, but Christopher has never received letters from her, and he’s certainly not angry with her. Taking the information about his mother’s affair along with this letter and its postmark, the reader can probably guess that Christopher’s mother is still alive, and living with her lover.
Ed comes into the bedroom, and Christopher says he’s reading a letter. Ed tells him about a TV show he might want to watch, and then leaves. Christopher wonders if the letter might be in the wrong envelope, though he doesn’t know why his mother would be writing from London. Maybe, he thinks, the letter was meant for another person named Christopher, from that person’s mother. He’s excited because now he has another mystery to solve, and he decides to wait until he can look at the other letters before jumping to conclusions. He hides the letter again and goes to watch TV.
Ed’s casual conversation contrasts harshly with the astonishing contents of the letter. Christopher is so sure of the essential facts of his life—like his mother’s death—that he begins imagining unlikely scenarios to explain the letter. Admittedly, his mother being alive seems just as unlikely, and yet explains the facts most logically, even though Christopher does not even imagine this possibility. Rather than being disturbed, he’s happy about this new mystery.