I walked into the dining hall, following my nose to the sweet smells of dinner being served. Getting in line for food I saw Eve, Naomi, Al, and their friends, hopefully I would remember all of their names eventually. They were sitting at the same table as the past few meals, near the doors to the hall. A girl I recognized from class, but who was new to the group was with them, standing next to Eve. They were all smiling, it looked like the trouble from before had passed.
Eve was smiling and talking to her friends, suddenly, she looked towards her friends, I couldn’t see her face. Hurriedly she grabbed her back and ran out of the hall. What had happened? My concern overrode my hunger. I hurried after her, she was about halfway down the hall when I reached her.
"Eve? Everything okay?" I called out, she turned around, she was biting her lip, looked like she was holding back tears.
"Course it is sir, why wouldn't it be?" There was a definite quaver in her voice.
"Are you sure? You looked upset and after I saw you at the lake-" I thought back to yesterday when I saw her during that class, was this the same problem as before?
"-Please sir, I don't want to talk about it. It was... just a bad day. A really bad day." She looked down at her shoes, crossing her arms. I felt my forehead crease. I reached out, but dropped my hands before I reached her.
"You know you can talk to me if you need to." I said.
"It's nothing, just... you know... family stuff. And friends, I guess." She avoided my gaze, still looking at the floor.
She shrugged. She was definitely avoiding my gaze. I stepped forward.
“Eve, You know you…” I started to say that she could tell me anything, but I’d said that already. I searched my brain for something else to say. “… you can, you can trust me.” I finished. Nice save Oliver.
Eve didn’t say anything, looking at some of the artwork on the wall. She had a strange look on her face. Her chin quivered periodically, but her eyes were clear. She still didn’t look at me. Something was up.
“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it, but you shouldn’t be by yourself. You don’t have to deal with problems on your own…”
Her head jerked around to look at me. Her eyes were narrowed.
“You want me to talk about my problems? Don’t think I didn’t see you today. Following my mother around? You’re sick.”
My eyes widened, I raised my hands.
“That wasn’t…” I started to make an excuse, but that would just make me look guilty. “She dragged me out of my office today.” I confessed. “We had a picnic by the lake. I needed to get out of the office.”
Eve flashed a smirk, I took a step back, then stood my ground. I shouldn’t be scared of her.
“You work too much.” She said. “You need to mind your own business. My problems aren’t something you need to be bothered with. And what you do with my mum is none of my business. I don’t care what you grown-ups do!”
She said the words with heavy sarcasm, as if I was a child. I crossed my own arms.
“That is extremely disrespectful. I’m the teacher here.”
She laughed outright. “Yeah, okay Ollie.” She said. I was completely surprised by the change of attitude. This was not what I expected when I followed her. Actually I didn’t know what I expected. Just not that.
“Alright.” I turned away, deciding against the argument. It wasn’t right to argue with a student. I shoved my hands into my pockets. Dinner was still waiting in the dining hall. “Have a good night Eve.” I walked back to the Dining hall. I saw Eve’s friends still sitting at the table, they didn’t look concerned, they looked happy, clearing off their table and chatting with each other. I wondered why they seemed so relaxed, especially if there had been a fight. It was all very strange. It was funny how I wasn’t getting used to it.
I grabbed a tray and sat with the teachers at the head table, I picked at my plate, not really hungry, still mulling over what Eve had said. The change in her mood had been out of place. I wasn’t expecting her to get so mad. I guess, I had been with her mother all day. But it’s not like something happened. I cringed at the thought. She was old enough to be my mother… almost. I guessed that wasn’t a fair assessment. I shook my head. Then again, it was entirely inappropriate for me to have anything with Maria’s daughter as well. I was here to teach English, and to get away from the Pope.
I slouched in my seat.
I was still confused by this place.