If my mother thought I was acting differently, she didn’t comment. There was a suspicion that I had forgotten something at the back of my mind, though I couldn’t think of what it could be. I made room on the bookshelf for my new school textbooks with a heavy sigh. At least somebody had decided to help me at the school. It would have been worse if I was alone.
I wanted to talk to my dad about it, but he was never reachable by his mobile when he was away. If I sent an e-mail, he was likely to reply after a week or so. I logged on to my Apple Mac, a combined birthday and Christmas present from the previous year, and signed in to an IM service. To my surprise, there was already one e-mail in my inbox. I opened it up and saw the sender’s address belonged to my father.
When I clicked on the envelope icon, it said:
Hope you had a good day at that school and that your mother isn’t pestering you about it (yes, I know how she can be) and that you are OK. I arrived this morning and so far things have been going well, so hopefully I might be home earlier than we thought. I’ll have to get back to you on it, though. Hope you’re missing me! Keep safe, and Alessia too.
Love from Dad
I smiled and typed a brief reply. I wanted to complain about how weird everything felt, but his job was going well and I wouldn’t want to upset him. I gave him a general summary of the school and said that some girls had talked to me, but didn’t mention their names. I signed off after saying that we were fine and I wished him luck with his work. I wondered what it was. Now I thought about it, he had never told me exactly what he did. I must have asked him before what his job entailed… yet I didn’t remember him answering. I had always assumed he worked in some kind of office situation, because he wore a smart suit every day and carried the same black leather briefcase with him.
I surfed the Internet aimlessly for a while. I felt at a loss, like I had nothing to do. It was like an uncomfortable dream place rather than real life. Maybe it was just my reluctant state of mind. Yes - I was undoubtedly reluctant to settle in here.
I turned the computer off and went downstairs with nothing better to do than sit and eat some pasta in front of the TV. It was chewy, but my mother wasn’t any better a cook than I was so I couldn‘t complain about it.
Later, I went up to my room and ran a finger along the spines of my books, stopping and selecting one to immerse myself in and hopefully waste an hour. I folded my legs underneath me on the seat beneath the window, looking out through the narrow blinds over the garden. It was dusk, the bushes lost in shadow, the murky pond water reflecting fragments of the yellow light from the lamp above the back door. There was a small straggle of wood behind the row of houses, with a river running through it somewhere. Between the skinny trees I thought I saw a shape, like a small boulder, but as soon as I locked eyes on it the shape retreated into the twilight shelter of the thicker undergrowth. I blinked several times, then stood up to get a proper look out of the window, but there was nothing there. I sighed and pulled the curtains closed, shutting out the coming night.
I took the book to bed with me earlier than usual, because the boredom was driving me insane. It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep.