CARMINE RUSHES TO me the next day at school, and I sigh inwardly. Although she would make life easier and I would be able to fit in faster, she was silly and inane at times. She never stopped talking and I wondered amused whether she ever thinks about anything. If her jaws are always moving, surely she could never contemplate the deeper things in life.
She seems overly excited and she says, “I cannot wait for this weekend. I am looking forward to Andrew’s party and I am glad you are also coming.”
I say apologetically, “I won’t be able to go any more. I forgot we are going away for the weekend.”
“That’s very depressing. I was looking forward to you also going,” she sulks.
I am not looking forward to it. House parties are usually seriously boring and predictable, but I reply kindly, “I completely forgot. My brother likes stargazing, and this weekend there is a new moon, so that means he can see the stars clearer, without the glare of the moon interfering.”
She asks, “Do you have to go with?”
“I do. It is a family tradition already.”
She smiles acceptingly, shrugging it off and then she notices Andrew walking up the corridor. She yells excitedly, “Andrew!”
Damn, being friends with her is going to make me cross Andrew’s path daily and I was hoping to only look longingly at him every now and again. Besides, Shayne and Amanda have subtly tried to nudge me in the direction of Ethan for the last ten years. I do like Ethan, but I would not want to literally spend eternity with him.
Andrew smiles when he sees Carmine. He looks at me briefly. He turns quickly and tickles Carmine in her waist and laughs delighted when she squirms away from him. “Hi, Carmine,” he says with a wide smile.
“Hey. You are here early today.”
“Ya, we had cross-country training this morning.”
He punches her lightly on the arm. “You know this, you goose.”
I just stand there looking at them. When he looks back at me, I feel foolishly inhibited.
We walk together to our registry class and the rest of the morning drags by.
During the lunch break, I go to the office. The smell of percolated coffee is overwhelming and fills the entire administrative office. They decorated the entrance with modern furniture and it looks like a picture in an interior design magazine.
I ask the receptionist behind the high rosewood desk if she could give me details of the cross-country and she smiles friendly while she opens one of her filing drawers and takes out a stapled pack of papers.
She hands them to me over the desk, while smiling friendly. “There you go.”
I say, “Thank you,” politely and then I walk out the door and back into the sunshine, away from the air conditioning. I do not get hot or cold, but I do sense a change in weather and I can feel a difference in the air between warm or chilly.
I am not planning on stalking Andrew, by enquiring about cross-country. I did have a real interest in running. After all, no one else could run long-distance like I could and never get out of breath.
Here students do not leave school at lunch break and we have to spend break together. There is no cafeteria where kids can go to sit down for lunch, but there is a tuck shop where they can buy a warm lunch and then they all scatter throughout the corridors and sports field – doing what they do in their respective groups.
I sit down in my usual corner and then I page through the documents the receptionist gave me. Usually, I would read one of my books. I enjoyed reading and these days I enjoyed reading the various vampire romance books, which were dominating the bookshop shelves. I loved the idea that people thought there was a possibility someone like me could have a relationship with a human boy. Never before have I had the slightest inclination or attraction to a human boy, until the first time I saw Andrew. He had some magnetic hold over me. Without speaking to me, I knew I would delight in his touch. It should be so simple—it always is in movies, but in movies, you cannot see the conflicting emotions and pain.
The bell rings and I automatically walk to my next class. Carmine comes rushing in my direction. “Where have you been? I was looking all over for you.”
Carmine smiles at Andrew. “Susie cannot come on Friday. Pity isn’t it.”
I must be fooling myself, but I thought I saw a look of disappointment in his eyes. Yeah, right!
In Business Studies, Mr Williams tells us to form groups of four. Carmine hurries to my desk and predictably, Andrew and John come with her.
Mr Williams explains that he wants us to work on a project about the impact the internet has had on the world and the fact the world has literally shrunk due to the information now available at each person’s fingertips. He tells us we can start immediately and we drag our chairs across the floor and the scraping noise is loud and irritating.
Carmine, John, Andrew and I sit around the table and Andrew is sitting across from me.
I start the discussion, “I think the internet has not shrunken this country because although the population exceeds fifty million, only about ten percent have access to the internet.”
Andrew retaliates, “But they are building that fibre-optic cable under the sea. This will escalate the use of the internet dramatically.”
I laugh sarcastically. “No. The people in charge are too greedy to make it cheap enough for everybody to use it. Besides, if you had no food, would you…”
Andrew interrupts me rudely, “You have only lived in this country for a short while and as usual your kind has all the answers!”
I gasp insulted. “My kind?”
“Yes, your kind! You come here from your first world countries and then you think you can solve all our problems. All over the world, there is racism against coloured people. In America, in Australia, but because the Europeans in this country gave it a name, it became such a great sin. Around the time they introduced apartheid into South Africa, was about the time slaves were hung and persecuted in America. Don’t come here and pretend to be high and mighty!”
“How did we get from the internet to racism?” John asks embarrassed at Andrew’s outburst.
Andrew knocks his chair over onto the floor as he gets up hurriedly and then he walks to the door of the class without excusing himself.
Mr Williams calls him back, but Andrew ignores him and slams the door when he walks out of the class.
John gets up from his chair slowly and he picks up the chair from the floor. He walks to Mr Williams and asks him if he could go after Andrew.
Mr Williams is red in the face. He is an aged teacher, with grey hair neatly brushed back over his ears and the centre of his head looks as smooth as a baby’s bum. He is most probably three years away from retirement. He says irate, “Tell him to either come back immediately or to meet me at the principals’ office after school.” Mr Williams mumbles to himself and John walks out the classroom to follow Andrew.
Carmine whispers to me, “Phew. That was unexpected. I have truly never seen Andrew carry on like that.”
I frown and start to doodle. Carmine looks at my notebook and she laughs softly. “You scribble vampire teeth!” Excited she asks, “Have you seen that new movie, the one with…”
Mr Williams interrupts her, “Carmine, do you want to join Mr Andrew Muller in the office later today?”
Carmine answers apologetically, “No, Sir.”
She takes out a book and then she starts to make notes on what we should discuss regarding the project.
The bell rings after what seems like hours.
LATER THAT AFTERNOON my phone vibrates in my pocket and when I answer it, it is Carmine. She says, “Hi, Susie.”
“Hello.” I did not feel like talking to her. I have never been friends with someone like her and she will take time getting used to.
“I thought I would keep you updated about Andrew.”
“Why? I could not be bothered with what happens to him.”
“His dad is the principle, so his punishment is always harsher! It is SO unfair.”
I do not reply. He was rude and attacked me for no reason.
“He is on community duty for the rest of the week and at home, he has been grounded, so now his party might be cancelled on Friday.”
Feeling sorry for Carmine, because I can hear the disappointment in her voice, I say, “You were looking forward to that. I am sorry because indirectly I caused it to be cancelled.”
Carmine hesitates for a moment. “You could make it up to me and have it at your house.”
“No. I told you I am going away this weekend.”
“Cancel. Tell your brother you are sleeping over at my house and then we can have a great party at your house without any adult supervision.”
“No, that would just cause more trouble.”
She sighs. “Fine. Anyway, we are meeting at his house tomorrow to work on the project.”
I say determinedly, “I am not going to his house.”
“Why won’t you come? We have to work on this anyway, you know? It has to be finished next week.”
“I’ll be busy tomorrow. Carry on without me; I do not need the marks anyway.”
“You are just being silly now. Do you want him to think you are taking anything he said seriously?”
“Well, then you will come tomorrow afternoon.”
I sigh irritated. “Fine, I’ll see, but I have to go now.”
I remember something and quickly I ask before she hangs up, “The principal is Mr Van Heerden and Andrew’s surname is Muller, yet you said they are family.”
Carmine laughs. “Yes, poor Andrew was adopted. He could have chosen a better dad; don’t you think?”
Amanda calls me, so I apologise to Carmine and end the call.
I walk to the kitchen and sit down in one of the chairs around the breakfast table. I watch Amanda pensively. She is making ice-popsicles, but not your usual popsicles, though. These popsicles are A-grade steak, cut into equal square rectangles. She pushes a longer than usual cocktail stick into one end and then she puts it into the freezer to freeze. It is very refreshing on a summer’s day.
Amanda usually leaves all of this for the weekends, but this weekend we are going away. We are going hunting. We always go when there is a new moon, because then the night is pitch black, especially in the rural areas. This will be the first time we are hunting in this particular area, but it adds to the excitement. In a year or so, it will be commonplace and boring again.
I ask, “You called me?”
“Oh, just to chat. Were you busy?”
I grunt, “No, not really”
Amanda asks without looking up. “How is school?”
Amanda laughs exuberantly. “It sounds as if you are having problems with the humans?”
I reply stubbornly, “This one boy and I are having a difference of opinion. He seemed like such a goody-two-shoes, but today he just stormed out of the class. I also learned his father is the principle and trust me that man is scary, even to me.”
“So this boy is a rebel without a clue?”
I laugh with her, although this has completely changed my perception of Andrew. It makes me want him more.