“You would not have agreed.” He’s very certain of that. “Do you have any idea where we are?”
I almost backchat and say that I wouldn’t have asked him where we were if I knew, but some reason I want to impress him. He’s not an idiotic teacher at school and now that he’s got me here, who knows what he might do to me if I annoy him too much? “The North of England, but not Scotland,” I say. “We probably stopped during the night when I was asleep, or we would have been here sooner, but I can’t be certain of that. I’m guessing it’s somewhere like the Lake District, on account of the hills, but I might be wrong.”
“Very good. We’re not that far from Coniston. Have you been here before, then?”
“Briefly, in the summer a couple of years ago.”
“Ah, yes. Summer.” Now he looks interested. “For all the scientists have been predicting the warming of the planet, have you noticed the winter this year?”
How can you not notice winter? “Well, it was cold. There was quite a bit of snow.”
“Snow that hasn’t stopped falling, though it’s heading towards the end of February.”
It’s only the twentieth, and though it’s not a leap year I wouldn’t call that the end. We’ve got a week left. “That’s okay. Winter often goes on long into March. It’s pretty normal, isn’t it?”
“It hasn’t been this cold by this stage in February in the last twenty years,” he tells me. “This is going to be a long winter, longer than they expected.”
“Teresa said something about that. About how long the winter was. I don’t understand what this has got to do with me. Why do you keep going on about it?” As I’m speaking, I’m rubbing at my calves, which are aching from all the dance I did. It probably wasn’t a good idea to stretch so much when I hadn’t warmed up thoroughly, especially since I missed my class yesterday and my body is all out of kilter.
“It has everything to do with you,” he says.
“I don’t understand.” I have nothing else to say.
The man leans forward, locking his fingers and resting his chin on them as he looks at me. I can smell herbs on his breath, as though he’s been drinking a herbal tea recently, but there are no teacups lying around and he looks like the type to want something a little stronger, anyway.
Perhaps he’s on drugs – that would explain a lot. I move away slightly, but his eyes are holding me in place and I find I don’t want to push my chair back and run away any more after all. I can’t, in fact. I’m frozen.
“Tell me, Georgia,” he says, in quite a different tone of voice. It’s friendly and honest but it sends shivers down my spine. “What do you know about the Rite of Spring?”