10. Strength

Other than the visual art, foreign languages and JROTC electives, there were also the culinary course, journalism (the school’s newspaper), the choir and some computer science courses, definitely not my thing. At the end we were told that tomorrow we would have a similar day as in the afternoon the school’s various clubs would be presented to us.

Also, tomorrow at lunch I’ll need to pass by the teacher’s office to inquire about the JROTC’s timetable. The visual art elective’s representatives said we only needed to participate at least once a week, the course was open every day and there were two teachers as supervisors. A handy disposition, but considering what elective it is, I didn’t find it too surprising.

“He wasn’t too bad looking.”

Started Alice as we all walked toward the gymnasium’s exit. Barely in an ordered queue, we freshmen were led outside as for us school had ended then and there. What my red-haired friend was teasing me about was the boy a few seats away from us who continuously stole glances in our direction. As to his left the only females were us two, unless he was interested in males, he definitely took a liking to one of us. To be precise, to me, or so Alice says.

“Nnh~ he doesn’t look like my type”

Past the gym’s double door was the big track made for the running club, sided by two little facilities, the nearest edifice was specially made for the JROTC’s activities while the farthest one was for the school’s clubs. We were currently behind our u-shaped school, the gymnasium stood by its side a little distance away, but its entrance faced the opposite direction. The classes were on the two wings of the building, the floor dividing the grade.

The headmaster and teachers’ offices and such things were in the central part of the structure, along with the student council’s HQ and the classroom of the visual arts elective with the adjacent darkroom. With the exception of the JROTC course, all the electives took place in either of the two wings of the school building. Alice nudged me, breaking my recollection of the school’s structure.

“Then, what’s your type?”

We followed the stream of people and soon passed the entrance, the two of us continued to walk for a bit more to distance ourselves from the gates to have less students swarming around us. Me and Alice continued to talk while standing as I looked toward the end of road, trying to see when mom would arrive.

“Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t seen anyone that made me think ‘That’s it!’ but I still am sure that guy isn’t my type.”

“Is that so~? Well, I broke up with my boyfriend when my parents told me we’d move here, so if that guy were to be interested in me I wouldn’t mind giving him a chan— Ah, my father’s here. See ya tomorrow”

A military-green car parked some distance away in the middle of Alice’s speech. From where we stood, I could more or less see her dad, and he was tall. Mr. Halton probably neared 2 meters in height, and his upper body, even if mostly hidden by clothes, appeared well trained; the only other thing I could clearly see was a hint of black beard.

“Bye Alice.”

She walked toward the car while fixing her bag on her shoulder better. When they departed I took out my phone and I started checking my Facebook account, sometimes stealing glances toward the street and parking lot. During the presentations of the elective courses both me and Alice got notified that we had been invited in a group, our class’.

It seemed I was the last to join as there were, with me, 26 members. Before I skimmed through the friend requests, I looked at my classmates’ profile pics. Showing off, both for males and females, seemed to be the standard; although there were some exceptions, like one of the girls had a cartoon guy as a pic while another altogether had both a cartoon picture and an obviously fake, asian name.

My meager friend list increased by 16. Certainly, I wasn’t as paranoid as dad, but I had no intention to befriend too much unknown people over the internet, thus explaining my small number of contacts. Most of them, no, all of them are older than me, they are Zinnia, Fred, Sam, Marco, Richard plus some others from the FBI, mom and 4 of the people who work in her restaurant, Natalie and her friends, whom I met more or less a year ago in her attempt to prepare me for my “comeback” to society. Frankly, this didn’t feel like a comeback at all. For argument’s sake, I blocked dad. He hardly uses facebook, but if it was to check who I was friends with and then to… preach to me, then it was a different matter.

As I pondered all this, I lost track of time and didn’t notice mom had arrived until she came up to me and shook my shoulders. To my startled face, mom answered with an annoyed one. On the way to her restaurant, she explained to me that I should not be so carefree, even if I am in front of my school. Bringing up unnecessary memories was not needed, thus I diverted my eyes from mom and stared off into space.

Ripples in the front window’s glass made me blink. From the four borders heathers of a soft blue [lavender] colour began to bloom, they continued to grow and started to coil in a spiral toward the center, where a single deep blue forget-me-not stood. Solitude and memories. I scoffed at my own subconscious, I didn’t like having my feelings so easily pointed out to me.

Awkward silence seemed to possess our car like a ghost, until after mom had parked her car in the underground parking lot relatively near the restaurant. I felt her left hand reach out for mine, its warmth slowly but firmly holding my palm, subtly motioning me to lean against her. And so I did, I rested my head on her shoulder, putting my free right hand over her left shoulder. Mom embraced me and kissed me on the forehead, while at the same time she used her own free hand to stroke my side. We remained like that for a few minutes, then we went to the restaurant.

The reason why I was with mom and not at home was that dad would be coming back late, and none of them wanted me alone in that house. Their protectiveness was a bit… overwhelming, but if I have to be honest it makes me feel secure and happy. Contradictive feelings seemed to be the norm nowadays in society.

“L’Espoir,” my mother’s four star restaurant, was a large two story building with half of the first floor occupied by the kitchen and stuff. The slick pendant chandeliers, the simple design of the black chairs and tables, the murals on the white walls and the tiled white floor which surface was like a mirror, gave the place a modern and elegant feel. Scurrying about were four waiters and waitresses  with the task to properly prepare the tables for when the restaurant opened.

“Hello, Boss; hello, Lily.”

When they heard the sous-chef (the chef, mom, ’s replacement when she’s absent) greet us, the eight men and women turned to face us, made a slight bow and at the same time said “Greetings, Boss.” before going back to their work. Mom never told me why the staff called her “Boss” but since they never call mom that to make fun of her, I wasn’t particularly interested. Still, there was one guy who teased mom about that, her brother.

“Hello David, as always, leave the report on the desk of my office, Lily and I are going to change.”

Natalie’s idea to introduce me to other people, her friends, wasn’t entirely hers. Around that time, mother had decided to make me work at the restaurant with her after she discussed about it with Ashley. In the end, I think it’s a pretty good deal: I have to work for 3 hours at least twice a week and in exchange I get 30$. As there was no way for a less-than-amateur cook like me could work in the kitchen, I became a waitress while at home, sometimes, I practice cooking.

Perhaps mom thinks I want to inherit her restaurant, perhaps not. She does help me, but my only intent is to be able to just decently cook a large range of food. I’m not ready, I won’t be for a long while, but when I’m going to live alone or with someone, I want to know how to cook my own food. I made my way to the changing room and put on my waitress uniform as I once again thought about my and my classmates’ facebook profiles. Mine wasn’t anything special, a picture of me in a white blouse and black pants, smiling in front of L’Espoir as a profile image and my drawing of crocus flowers blooming from the grass-covered earth viewed sideways as my cover. My train of thoughts stopped as I went out of the changing room.

Previous Chapter | Index|  Next Chapter