"I think we've taken a wrong turning," I told him nervously, looking at the leafy road. It was completely deserted. Even the houses were quiet: no lights in the windows, just dirty net curtains that fluttered slightly in the breeze, and a little bit of junk mail flapping around where it hadn't been put in the recycling bin properly. Signs of life, but no people. It wasn't safe.
"No, we're fine," he said. I looked up, to see that he was still smiling. Why had my parents trusted me with this man? Just because he was a driving instructor, didn't mean that he was not a pervert or something. They didn't know anything about him, yet they'd let me travel with him in a way that they never would with my boyfriend or friends from school?
"I really don't think so," I said again. "Where is this, anyway? I've never seen it before." Surprisingly, my voice didn't shake too much. I had expected it to give me away.
Jon stopped smiling and looked out of the window. After about two minutes he said, "Nobody comes here any more."
"I can see that," I told him. "Maybe that's because nobody knows it's here. What is this place?" It was beginning to give me the creeps. Well, that was a total lie. It had been giving me the creeps since the moment we pulled off the main road into this lonely avenue, from the moment Jon braked at the side of the road and looked at me.
"It's somewhere that nobody goes," he repeated. Helpful. He was like a broken record. "Come on, El, aren't you up for a bit of adventure? Your first drive and you're panicking because you don't know where you are. Doesn't that happen to every teenager eventually?"
"It's hardly my first drive when I haven't touched the wheel yet," I muttered, hoping he wouldn't hear that and make me take a turn. He didn't. "Just tell me where we are and I'll stop moaning, all right?"
But instead of answering me, Jon reached over for his seatbelt and undid it. He was getting out. I didn't believe it, he was going to get out, in this place of silence and - and - and something that I couldn't name, something mysterious. It was only as he opened the door that I noticed the tattoo on his arm, just on the inside of his elbow; I couldn't help thinking that that must have hurt a lot, to have a tattoo put there.
"What's that?" I asked him, pointing. It was blue and intricate, but I couldn't make out any more than that.
"Nothing," the young man replied, pulling down his sleeve. "El, if you're going to get along with me you need to learn to understand when is the time to ask questions and when is the time to keep your mouth shut, or we will end up arguing." It wasn't a threat, just a statement of fact.
Guessing that this wasn't the time to ask him anything, I undid my own seatbelt and stepped out of the car. It was then that I realised we weren't quite alone - this place was inhabited after all, just one house on the end of the row. I knew that because the front room light had just clicked on and I could hear footsteps coming to the door. Watching it intently, I saw that there was some sort of pattern on the knocker.
"Stop staring at the house. He won't come if you do." It was like being a little kid again, and being told on Christmas Eve that unless you went to sleep Father Christmas wouldn't give you any presents. "Just step back."
But I didn't listen to Jon, though he carried on bleating in my ear. I took another step forward, so that I was standing on the garden path.
"For goodness sake, El, come back here."
I went closer. "Don't tell me what to do."
"I'm trying to keep you safe?" Safe from what? I wondered. Why did I need protecting?
I took another step forward. All I remember thinking is that the knocker looked a little like Jon's tattoo.