Chapter 7Mature

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"Adam? Adam, are you listening to me?" Amanda barked in exasperation.
   The boy answered her with a blank stare, looking somewhat like a porcelain doll, pink lips parted slightly as he struggled to bring his thoughts back to the present.
   "You were explaining to me the atomic structure of neon," he said eventually.
   Amanda shook her head, but her smile betrayed her amusement.
   "Nice try, mister, but we're not doing chemistry," her tone became stern again, "now come on, get those questions done. You've five minutes."
   The boy sighed and lowered his eyes to the computer screen upon his desk, the stylus in his left hand moving swiftly over it as he scribbled in answers with minimal consideration of the questions. No doubt he would be finished with them in less than five minutes and Amanda would go through the pretence of checking his work for mistakes. A more often than not redundant action, as Adam's academic work always reflected the high IQ he'd likely inherited from Leicester, and subjects typically taught at GCSE level did nothing to phase the eleven-year-old.
   Amanda had, however, noticed the boy becoming more distracted in their recent lessons. He seemed to have developed a habit of arranging things, attempting to line up objects with precise borders, fiddling with them until he ascertained that they were in the right place. Amanda would often have to direct his attention back towards her, sometimes resorting to clicking her fingers before his pale, frowning face, causing the large blue eyes to 'pop' in surprise as he was abruptly forced from his intense contemplation. Though she would always notice that his eyes would flicker constantly back to his abandoned toils, and he would remain distracted and uneasy until she allowed him to continue. Upon settling all of the objects he would turn to his mentor expectantly, now eagerly waiting for her to continue the lesson, and would be relaxed and enthusiastic for the remainder of it.
   But there had been something in his face before she interrupted his contemplation moments ago that made her especially uneasy. The frown upon his face was not one of concentration, and the way he chewed on his bottom lip only made him appear more nervous, worrying Amanda greatly. She determined to talk to Leicester about this behaviour at their next meeting.
   "I've finished," Adam prompted her, but his voice was calm and level, not the whine of an impatient child.
   "Give me the pad, then," Amanda sighed, and he handed the computer screen to her.
   Sure enough, the lengthy questionnaire she had given him was filled out accurately, the boy's neat, looping script presenting his answers clearly on the datapad. As he waited for her inevitable approval he hummed a gentle tune, his voice soft and soothing in its juvenile clarity.
   "Mahler, is it?" She asked him. He said nothing, only cocking his head slightly and smiling, "You’ve been reading up on diffusion, haven't you?"
   "Yes," he grinned, clearly proud of himself.
   "When was the last time you just read a good story? Something involving people?"
   "Something involving people?" he contemplated this for a moment before the smile returned to his face, now a smirk, "just last week I read a very interesting e-book about the human circulatory system."
   "Don't get smart with me, kiddo," Amanda chided him playfully, "do you even know what paper is?"
   "Something people used to write on between now and the stone tablet days of your youth?"
   Amanda stood and ruffled the thick curls of the boy's hair on her way to a bookcase in the corner of her study. Adam watched her with mild interest until she returned, a dog-eared paperback book in her hands. She lay it down on the desk before him. He picked it up and fingered the cover, then flipped it open and flicked through the pages, feeling the rough surface of the yellowed paper.
   "Wuthering Heights," he said sceptically, "I'll try it."
   "Good. It's a classic. Not exactly suitable reading for most eleven-year-olds, but you should like it," Amanda's jesting tone became serious again as she folded her arms upon the desk and leaned slightly closer to Adam, "so, are you okay?"
   A line appeared between his eyebrows, looking strange in the middle of his cherubic features, "yes," he said, though his voice was strained.

The End

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