"Yes, that's my name," I said, even more nervous now than I had been. I knew that at any moment I was just going to break down in tears and that would be so embarrassing. This wasn't what I'd wanted when I got into that car. My parents must have been wondering where I was, since I should have been home by now.
"Why did you ask, if you already knew my name?" I was puzzled. He'd made me tell him and yet he didn't even need to.
"Because I wanted you to tell me." That totally made sense ... not. But I let it pass for now. There were more important things to argue about - such as whether or not they were going to let me go, or whether they would keep me here for ever and ever. "Now, El, shall we have something to eat?"
I swallowed. "No."
"What? You want to starve?"
"No, I want to go home." I want to see my parents and tell them never to send me anywhere with a strange man again. I want to go to my bedroom and close the door against the world and pretend it's all how it has always been. I want to forget that things like this even exist. That's what I was thinking, but I didn't say any of it. "I just want to go home."
The man stood took a few steps away from me, grabbing my hand at the last minute and pulling me forward with him. "Come on, come with me. We'll have something to eat and then we'll discuss what we're going to do with you. But if you stay in here all day we'll get nothing done, will we?"
"I don't want you to do anything with me! I just want to go home and pretend this never happened!" I was close to breaking point now, tears welling up in my eyes to my eternal humiliation. I was like a child, I really was. I couldn't control myself in this sort of situation at all, though I should have been able to by now.
The man wouldn't take 'no' for an answer, though, and he led me out of the room into another that seemed to be a dining room. At least, there was large table with several chairs around it, but that was about all I recognised. The shelves were filled with strange objects and old books that smelt of damp; even the table was carved all over, so that you could hardly find a flat surface to put something down on. I ended up placing the bowl he handed me on the twisting swirls of a trinity knot.
"So, El. Do you know why you are here?" I shook my head. If I knew, I wouldn't have asked. I wasn't like him. "Do you know who I am?" The same went for that stupid question. Was he a halfwit? "Very well, do you know what I am?"
"Uh, a human?" I said, and then regretted it. if he wasn't a human, what was he? What was I meant to do if he said 'no'?
"I see ..." said the man. I wished I knew his name. "So you know nothing. You have had it hidden from you for your whole life. That is sad, yes, but it can be remedied. Not yet, I think. You are still too young."
I was growing impatient. "What the hell are you talking about? Tell me, for feck's sake, before I get really angry."
"Bad language doesn't become you, little one." Well, for a start I wasn't 'little', and nor was 'feck' technically bad language. It was just not particularly good. Not something I'd let my mother catch me saying.
"Who are you?" I demanded. This time, the man decided to answer me.
"My name," he said slowly, "is Mathew."