“What do you think?” Andrew asked me as he looked down at his notes.
“Kill Hector,” I said flatly, earning a high pitched tweet from the chick in Andrew’s pocket.
“He didn’t mean it,” Andrew said reassuring the little chick as he patted its head with the base of his thumb. I rolled my eyes, picking the next chick to paint with the deep red colored chalk I had in my hand.
Andrew and I were outside. He was taking notes - gaining inspiration as he put it, by just being outside in the old termite degraded chair he was sitting on. I didn’t mind being out with him. I didn’t mind being anywhere with him.
“I didn’t ask you about Hector,” he said, giving me a soft glare. I rolled my eyes when the chick seemed to tweet in agreement. It’s been two weeks since I officially started my lectures. They’d been fairly tolerable, but that chick was not.
One of Andrew’s hens had hatched a new brood of chicks, and one got inseparably attached to Andrew. Picking up another chick to paint, I regretted the fact that it wasn’t Hector a hawk had carried off the other day. Andrew said painting them red would make hawks think they were dead, and hence leave them alone. So here I am, at the foot of Andrew’s chair coloring chicks red.
“I’m asking what you think of the setting. Which one seems more logical; the slums of New York, or the broken-down economy of Detroit?” Andrew asked, retreating into his own thoughts.
“Detroit,” I said, figuring that was the more logical answer of the two.
“I guessed so as well,” he said, smiling weakly. “I guess I have to start doing my research then.”
“You’ve been acting odd. It’s like you’re pressured,” I said, airing out my thoughts. The way he’s been acting recently has been killing me inside. I’ve been wondering if he’s caught me smoking. Maybe—
He sighed, cleaning his eyes with the back of his hand. “Is it that obvious?” he asked, letting out a fake laugh. I nodded, painting the corners of a chick’s beak.
“My mum and my agent said they’re coming over this Saturday...” he trailed.
“Oh...” I trailed, not being able to help the feeling of relief that washed over me. He hasn’t caught me, not yet.
“I don’t know why they think I’ll commit suicide or something, while I’m here on my own,” he said rubbing his thumb over Hector’s head. “I’ve been on my own for a long time; it’s quite unreasonable for them to be worrying.”
We stayed in silence, apart from the tweeting chicks and Clucking hen watching me suspiciously from her coup as I painted her chicks. Unlike the rest, Hector preferred to be tucked away in Andrew’s pocket or shoe. I wasn’t the only one not pleased with the chick’s new living arrangement. Roxanne barked whenever she caught him in sight, sometimes leading Andrew to banish her outside at night. She never learned her lesson because he always let her back after she whined outside the door for a few minutes.
“How’s college?” Andrew asked, penning something down.
“Fine...” I trailed, shrugging as I dropped the last chick and dusted chalk and fluffy feathers off myself. I was stained with red nothing less and probably smelled like a chicken coup.
“You’re not going to tell me anything about your lectures?” he asked, pushing his hair back with his free hand. His skin looked a lot healthier than it did when I got here. I was glad that his writing if anything brought him outside.
“They’re okay - boring really,” I said, earning a chuckle from Andrew. I felt my toes curl at the sound. It was beautiful and rare.
“You should laugh more,” I pointed out, getting up to open the door to the coup. The mother hen ran out clucking like she wanted to attack. I shoved her aside gently, so she ran to form a small tent over her chicks with her wings.
“I laugh enough, and there’s really nothing funny around here,” Andrew said, biting the end of his pen.
“Are you sure? What about that old lady that fell over in the department store?” I asked, walking over to him with a grin. I saw the side of his mouth twist into an awkward smile.
“That wasn’t funny—”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“Okay, maybe it was,” he said, rolling his eyes. “But it would have been quite rude to laugh.”
“She’d understand it was funny,” I said, pulling the footstool from under him to sit down on. I raised his legs and placed them on my thighs. I’d never let him be uncomfortable at my expense.
“You said your mother was coming,” I said, bringing back the forgotten topic.
“She is,” he said, chuckling a bit. “She’ll probably be packing her whole kitchen on a mission to feed me.”
“I’ve started it,” I said, making him smile.
“Oh, but she’ll finish it. She’ll bring beef and pork chops. She’ll probably be replacing my vegetable oil with something funny like lard.” He laughed pulling a caught strand of hair from Hector’s beak.
“I think he’s hungry,” Andrew said, rubbing Hector’s head again.
“I think he’s looking for attention,” I said pouting. Andrew gave me a look of disbelief.
“Aren’t you embarrassed about fighting with a chicken?” Andrew asked, creasing his brows. I scuffed, refusing to answer the question.
“If you’re not going to answer me, you might as well tell me about your lecturers,” Andrew sighed. I traced the form of his leg through his jeans. I’m not really sure I want to answer the question. I don’t want to feel guilty about not sending one of my lecturer’s regards.
It was that one from my first class - Mr. Collins as I’ve come to know. He’s been bothering me after classes asking me about Andrew, telling me to tell him this or that. I’ve never mentioned it to Andrew. Anyone in my position could tell there was something off about the whole thing.
“They’re all the same — boring,” I said, looking towards him.
“So, I’m boring?” he asked with a laugh, looking up from his notes.
“No,” I said, shaking my head. I knew Andrew volunteered to take the extra classes on weekends sometimes, and I’m honest when I say he’s not boring. I’ve attended one of his lectures and it was quite interesting.
“Well, glad to know that’s not one of the things you guys are saying behind my back,” Andrew said, returning to his notes. I rolled my eyes, as a small smile formed on my lips.
I couldn’t help wondering what Andrew’s mother looked like. Maybe she’ll look a lot like him and have the same brown shaded irises and dark brown hair. Or maybe she’d look a lot different, meaning Andrew probably got his features from someone else. The after didn’t take it’s time to manifest itself as a disappointment in my head.
“Will your mum be staying here?” I asked resting my head lightly on his legs.
“No, there’s no space, thank God for that. She’d probably be feeding me twenty-four seven then. She’s staying at a nearby inn,” Andrew said, as I felt his hand stroke my hair.
I closed my eyes sighing in delight. I’ve come to oddly like the solitude I had here with Andrew in the cabin (excluding Hector.) I couldn’t help having an odd feeling if wanting his mother to accept me.
I sighed, turning my head over in Andrew’s lap.
“She’s going to try and sign me up for one of those dating sites again,” Andrew said, chuckling at some far of memory.
“The woman gets on my nerves, but I love her unconditionally.” Andrew smiled.
“She used to call me her adorable teddy bear when I was off the scales,” Andrew started smiling weakly, “but now she’s started calling me her dying fish.”
“You know, back when I was still in college I used to blame my mum for being fat and useless. You know, when my father passed away I would just eat and she would let me, but then I lost all the weight, so much that I looked like a dried up fish. I wasn’t so sure who to blame then — whether me or my mom. I got so scared of food. I’m still scared of food...” he trailed, stopping suddenly.
“Maybe we should go inside,” Andrew said, shutting his book. Hector jumped in fright, making Andrew coo at him to calm him down.
I let Andrew’s leg down, getting up to chase the chickens back into their coup. I turned to find Andrew standing, with Hector still in his pocket. I rolled my eyes, whistling for Roxanne to come.
She ran from the back, jumping on me with mud-stained paws. I pat her head, making her yield before leading her to the tap to get cleaned.
By the time I and Roxanne got into the house, Andrew had already locked himself and Hector up in the study. I sighed realizing I was going to have to fight a war to get him out and eat by dinner time.
I ignored that for a while, heading over to the sitting room to watch some T.V. Roxanne settled under my feet like she did when she was with Andrew. I looked down at her, and she looked up at me with brown eyes. I could see the same look I had on my face on hers. Worry, worry for Andrew.