There was a row of shops opposite the hotel, as well as a few restaurants dotted amongst the line of buildings on this side of the street, but in walking around all of them we found that none of them was an Indian restaurant. After about a half hour of unsuccessful further exploration, I suggested entering the local Chinese back by the hotel but Tina wrinkled up her nose in distaste and said that Chinese food was too greasy. I looked to Daryl but he frowned at me and shook his head.
"Well, can I go on my own?" I asked, starting to become impatient. "I'm starving and the hotel's just next door to it."
Daryl frowned even more.
"It's dark, Carina. There are probably lots of dangerous people around. You know Mum and Dad expect me to look after you."
I sighed quietly. "I'm really hungry. And there might not be any Indian restaurants nearby. I don't mean to sound stubborn or selfish but I'd rather just eat from wherever's nearest." The last sentence came out before I could stop myself: they were a response to my wariness at the way that Tina was scowling at me as if I were a spoilt brat.
Daryl looked surprised. "Are you okay, Carina?"
I blushed and looked away.
"Just really tired," I mumbled, not exactly lying but not expecting I'd get an appreciative reply if I said something about his girlfriend.
"I forgot you weren't nocturnal," he said, with startling affection. I looked up at him, astonished. Tina was looking bewildered too.
"Let's go to the Chinese restaurant," he said, appearing not to notice either of our expressions.
"But, darling," Tina said possessively, "there could be an Indian just around the corner."
Daryl just smiled at her.
"We'll go tomorrow night. Hey, we can get a map at the hotel and then we'll know where all the restaurants are. And if you get one of the soups, I'm sure it won't be too greasy at all."
Tina looked like she wanted to argue but she clearly thought better of it. We were both still baffled as we walked to the restaurant and sat down at a table with a glass spinning serving plate on it. The meal was awkwardly silent until Daryl laughed at the strangeness of the atmosphere and ordered a bottle of red wine. After that we were much more conversational, even quiet little me who talked extensively about all the things I was looking forward to on our trip to Paris at the weekend. I felt incredibly carefree due to Daryl's decision to go to where I wanted: I had worried at the start of the trip, at the point when we were entering Dover, that my wishes and preferences would be totally ignored with Tina around. Things would turn out well if Daryl continued this streak of friendliness to his sister.
I secretly hoped for a future where my brother would recognise that Tina wasn't a nice person but for now I was content to toast to "A happy life" as Daryl put it, while Tina giggled at the way he had raised her glass instead of his.
Daryl's consideration of me wasn't the only odd thing to happen that night...
We had long since returned to the hotel and I was standing out on the balcony, having been mysteriously unable to sleep for more than two hours or so. I gazed across the Channel, imagining the south coast of England and all the people who were in their beds and the odd one or two who perhaps were gazing out of windows or from their hotel balconies, wondering what the people in France were doing.
‘The world is so vast,' I thought to myself, ‘and yet... so small. We're all so different culturally but similar in our psychology. Deep down, we all want the same things: happiness, company, ... love.'
I smiled to myself. How typical of me to tie romance in with my philosophical contemplations.
It was at this moment that a dark shape came hurtling out of the sky towards me: the silhouette ... of a human boy.