And, as my mind wanders between sleep and consciousness, I wonder if being a nine hour plane ride from home was a good idea. But honestly, whatwasthere at home for me now, anyway? Apart from a family that had never quite got over that Day When I Was Seven and She Was Five? Apart from a town haunted by her ghost, her memory, her soul?
I blinked tiredly, trying to convince myself that leaving her spirit back in Washington was the best choice to have made. Sure, she followed me everywhere – on my way to school to work, to the store. I didn’t miss the weight of her presence I had always felt in our hometown, but I had become so accustomed to it over the years that I somehow thought it a part of me. I felt different here without it.
With my eyes lightly shut, my mind gurgled with unsettling thoughts. I pretended that it wasn’t because I was homesick, kicking off my bedcovers and pulling the crimpled sheets tightly over the mattress, quickly messing it up again. People there, even if I didn’t intend on making friends with them, couldn’t know about my ridiculous need to control every single stupid thing around me.
Just as I was adjusting the duvet into a suitable disarray, a confident knock tapped flippantly on my door. Abandoning my mess making I sighed, anticipating the round head of some spotty-faced kid looking for someone to get wasted with at weekends.
I swung open the door. “I’m sorry, but Idon’twant to get drunk with you. I’m justnotthat kind of guy, okay?” I sighed, proud of having stood up for myself.
“What kind of guyareyou, then?” sprouted a voice so dissimilar to the one I had expected that I realise I hadn’t even looking at her face yet, and before I ponder it further she pushed passed me, a forest of hazelnut hair. I was immediately mortified that I had saidthatto a completely innocent, unsuspecting girl with not only more wit than me, but more tenacity, too. She turned around, brushing the curls from her green eyes to stare at me for an answer. I closed the door as she waited in the middle of the room between the desk and the bed, expecting an answer.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were” –” I noted her dainty shoes, black leather and well-worn; her flowery dress and violet tights, “I didn’t know you wereyou.”
“Right.” She giggled, soft purrs of kitten, extending her hand for me to shake. “I’m Francesca. Pleased to meet you, I think.”
I smiled, relaxed then after her casual humour. “I’m Milo. A pleasure meeting you, too.”