“Mum?” I held the phone to my ear,

“Est-ce que  Marc?” she asked,

“Oui Mama,” I replied, she let a soft whimper down the phone,

“Marc!” she cried, “Where have you been?”

“I’m taking a few months off,”

“Off what?”

“Life, I’ve been asked to look after something, I’m with nine other people, they are all very nice. All along I was looking for something else, now I’ve found it, I’m happy. Especially after Dad left, I haven’t been myself, all along I was looking for something more.  I have a purpose here, once I fulfil it I will come back.”  I promised, she began to cry down the phone,

“I always knew you were unhappy but I didn’t want to admit it, it kills me inside when I know how much trouble you get into at school, I know its all my fault. I think whatever you’re doing is a good thing, but promise you’ll come back soon,” she said,

“I promise. I’ve got to go Mama, au revoir. I love you.” I whispered,

“Love you too Marc,” she said. I put the phone down and tossed it to William; I stood up and walked out
the lounge. I wanted to get away from everyone, just for a while, I sensed most people were in the house, so I made my way into the orchard. I had found a tree which I could climb in and sit there without anyone seeing me, when I got to the tree I climbed up and rested against the trunk. I had never known my Father but all of a sudden I missed him, I had seen one photo, he had the same brown hair and eyes as I did. He had left as soon as he knew Mum was pregnant with me, they had never wanted a serious relationship Mum had explained, I always thought of him as a wimp. Thinking about it now, I could relate to him, he was only a year older than me when he had got Mum pregnant, I knew that I would run away if I was in that situation. Mum was only eighteen years older than me, which made her more understanding and lenient with me. But growing up with a young mum and no father had rubbed off on me, I had run away twice and got into trouble, I had done drugs and slept rough. When I turned seventeen I made a promise to my Mum I wouldn’t run off and leave her and that was what made me so sad now, because I had broken that promise. I was a new person and I really hoped this experience would help me for when I returned, no one here judged me and no one knew about my past, so the ball was in my court.
“I wouldn’t have noticed you up there if I hadn’t had such good senses,” Jade looked up, her eyes were full of tears and she looked upset. I shifted over the branch and she climbed up nimbly,

“I would have sensed you coming if I wasn’t thinking so hard,” I replied, she smiled a weak smile, “are you okay?” I asked, she began to play with a strand of hair,

“Not really, but you can probably see that,” she grimaced, “I was hoping to be alone here in the orchard, but truthfully I’m happy you’re here,” she said.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked, she shook her head. I looked out across the orchard to the lake beyond it; it was a truly beautiful view, the silence endured so I began to speak.

“I just spoke to my Mum, she was pretty good about it actually,” I said, “I feel totally guilty leaving her alone in France, but she wasn’t mad at me, even though I was pretty evasive,”

“I know how you feel,” Jade sniffed, “My parents aren’t around, I left my brother, he was sick with worry and now I fell wretched.” I didn’t look at her instead I gazed at the lake,

“My Dad left when I was young, it’s just me and Mum, but like you, I left her,”

“At least three fifths of your family didn’t die two months ago,” she said her voice breaking in the middle, she began to cry, whimpering to herself. I wrapped my arms around her and rested my face on her head,

“I’m sorry, so very sorry,” I said sincerely, “Just be happy for the good times you spent with them, my Father heard my Mum was pregnant and left. Mum was only eighteen, I never knew my Father but I wish I had, even though he sounds like a complete bast-,” I stopped, “Idiot,” I corrected, “I still want to know what kind of music he likes, if he’s good at sport, if he ever thinks about me,”

“I guess you’re right,” she said turning her head towards mine, our faces were inches apart, she closed her eyes and pressed her lips onto mine. I withdrew immediately,

“Jade?!” I said surprised, she blushed,

“Oh,” she moved away, “Sorry, I thought you wanted to…” her lip quivered,

“We’re related!” I said abruptly, not thinking about what I said,

“What?” she asked,

“Well we sort of are, we all descend from the Altaneans,” I said, she wiped her eyes,

“So? Everyone descends from Adam and Eve?” she pointed out,

“Okay, bad excuse. You’re sad and therefore vulnerable, I’m not into you in that way, sorry, you’re hot but I’m not looking for anything right now and I’m sure you have something for Jake!” I said,

“Oh,” was all she replied, she jumped down from the tree and I followed, I took her hand and looked deep into her eyes,

“You’re my best friend here,” I pointed at the house, “You’re the only one I trust,” I said, she smiled slightly, “Let’s not spoil our friendship?” I offered, she nodded,

“Sorry, you’re right, I wasn’t thinking straight,” I brought her into a hug and we stood for a few moments in each others embrace. She pulled away,

“You’re right about most things,” she admitted, I grinned, “I do like Jake, do you think he’s into me?” she asked, I smiled,

“Who wouldn’t be?”

“You’re not,” she pointed out,

“I don’t count, you’re more of a sister to me,” I smiled, she punched my arm, took my hand and began to play with my fingers which were so much bigger than hers.

“Can we just pretend none of that happened?” she asked not looking at my face,

“What just happened?” I asked grinning,

“You know all the stuff in the tree…” she said and then stopped smiling sheepishly, “good joke Marc,” she rolled her eyes. “Where’s Jake?” she asked, I closed my eyes,

“In the cellar.” I replied and we walked back to the house together.

The End

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