For this story, we need to travel back to a forgotten time and place; 1987, Westfield Manor Junior School, England.
A precocious seven-year-old girl by the name of Zoey lived in the suburbs of a city with her mother and father. They had travelled to England from a country far away because her father and mother had been awarded scholarships. Her father was studying for his PhD and her mother was studying for a master’s degree at the same university. They had lived in three different countries so far because her father had to move around for his work and research. Zoey also had a little sister who annoyed her very much. To protect her sanity, Zoey had to pretend she did not exist.
Her mother and father were from different countries too. Her mother had decided to break the traditions of her culture that insisted a girl stays at home until she is married; so at the age of twenty-five, armed with a degree in theoretical physics, she left home on her bicycle. She had crossed three countries and had been cycling through Uzungöl when she ran out of money. She found work peeling onions at a local restaurant. There was another kitchen hand who was peeling potatoes on his summer break. He fell into a daze and peeled very few potatoes since the day she joined the kitchen. He was the owner’s son, so nobody cared how many potatoes he peeled in a day. He married the onion peeler a few years later.
Zoey’s family was a normal family on the outside, but a little eccentric when you got to know them (well, maybe more than a little).
Her mother, father and the next-door neighbour took turns dropping and picking up five children from Westfield Manor Junior School. The neighbour had three boisterous, ugly kids with freckles and snub noses. Each one of them was always missing a few teeth when they smiled, and Zoey had to wonder if the tooth fairy was going broke because of them.
Zoey hated school because it was boring. She always finished her work before everyone else and had to wait until the others caught up. She wondered if her mother had mistakenly enrolled her in a junior class. She would spend time staring at the small potted plants on the window ledge or the students’ artwork on the walls. The artist’s name was written at the bottom of each drawing. She had a fascination with letters and patterns. She would scramble the letters in these names, to come up with different words. The only activity she enjoyed in school was on Friday afternoons when they all sat cross-legged on the floor around Mrs Brumley the class teacher, listening to her read from the Puffin Book Club pick of the week.
Nothing exciting had happened during the first term and now they had just started term two.
Well, nothing… until he appeared.