Debbie called me down for dinner, so I trundled down and sat at the table, opposite Alfred. He smiled at me wearily, “Good day?”
“Fine” I said. Debbie came in carrying a steaming shepherd’s pie and placed it down in front of us. “I hope you like fish? I’m a vegetarian, Leila was too.”
“Fish is fine,” I lied. I was a meat-a-holic.
“Brilliant, I’ll get the potatoes,” she scurried back into the kitchen.
Alfred turned to me, “what A-levels are you taking then?”
“Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Geography.”
Alfred nods his head appreciatively “You’ve got good, solid A levels there. Leila had a good head on her shoulders as well. She did Math, English Literature, History, Music and Art. I tried to convince her not to do the art, but she insisted. Said it was her hobby. I tried to get her interested in Law,” he stared mournfully into the fish pie, “she would have been good at that, but she had too kinder a heart.”
I saw a tear trickle down his face, so I started at my plate, embarrassed. But Alfred quickly pulled himself together, “Remarkable girl she was. But with you’re A levels, you could easily be a doctor. Thinking about it?”
“I dunno,” I muttered. I never think about the future. Too much of the present to be dealing with.
Debbie sat down and the table was plunged into silence. We started eating, and all I could hear was a scraping of metal on plates. Was this what it was always like? Or was it just because I was here? All I knew was that I was not going to be the person to break the silence. After what seemed like an hour we had all finished, and I was dismissed.
“Remember to set your alarm clock for tomorrow!” Debbie called out after me.