"So? How was it?" My parents were waiting the moment I got out of the car. I was still sitting in the passenger seat, a fact they didn't seem to have noticed. They weren't as observant as you would have expected.
"I didn't really do much driving," I said, stepping carefully around the truth. Of course I wasn't going to tell them that I'd been in a street I'd never seen before, drugged until I was unconscious, had a conversation with someone who was possibly not human and then found that time travel seemed to be possible. They'd never let me drive again, and they'd think I was on drugs. Yeah, not a good plan. "We just drove around for a bit with Jon telling me what everything was. I was too frightened to drive myself."
"Oh, El," my mum sighed, sounding despairing. "What am I meant to do with you? You've been nagging me for driving lessons for weeks and yet when you get them you can't even pluck up the courage to drive yourself anywhere. Honestly."
"Well, there were difficulties. I've never done this before. Cut me a bit of slack." If only she knew, I found myself thinking. If only she knew what had really happened. But that wasn't something I could tell her.
Jon waved to me as he drove off. I waved back, conscious that my family were watching me. To tell the truth, I was absolutely mad at him for letting all of that happen, but I also knew I couldn't show any dislike of the one person who could get me back to Mathew to find out what was happening, since my parents would be suspicious.
We made our way back inside the house, dispersing in various directions. Mum and I went into the living room, sinking down onto the sofas almost simultaneously. Well, great minds think alike. "So," she said, and I groaned.
"Mum, I don't want to talk about the fact I chickened out of driving, all right? Please, just let it go."
"I wasn't going to say that at all," she responded, a little offended. "You're too touchy. What I actually wanted to tell you was that you're not quite as chipper as you normally are. Did you stay up last night? There are huge rings around your eyes and you've got a few spots."
Spots? I ran a hand over my cheeks. Drat it, she was telling the truth. It wasn't polite of her to point it out, but I wouldn't have noticed otherwise. "I don't know," I told her. "I must have reacted to something. The car had been cleaned with something odd - perhaps I'm allergic. I'll have to ask Jon what it was." For someone who was having to think on the spot, I was pretty good at coming up with a story, or so I thought. "But yeah, I am pretty tired. Early night tonight."
Oh, that would be the day. She knew as well as I did that I had a ton of work to get through.
After a few minutes, I spoke. "Mum?"
"Hmm?" she said, non-committally. Well, she was reading the paper, so her lack of interest could be forgiven.
"Do you think there are other species, besides humans? I don't mean animals, just other things. That look like humans but aren't."
She looked at me for a long moment, the paper forgotten in her hands. After searching my face for far longer than I felt was really necessary, she turned her gaze away and stared at the floor. I hadn't seen Mum like this in months. It was as though she was trying to hide something, but didn't want to lie.
"Are you going to answer me?"
"Other species?" she repeated. "No, I don't think there are. Completely ridiculous. Whatever gave you that idea? Completely absurd..."