“Daddy, don’t worry about school tomorrow! Screw time zones, Screw everything! I will definitely stay up late at night to talk to you!” I said stubbornly, sitting by the window sill of my room, “How did your day go? Oh yes, how silly of me, it’s morning there. You’ll be starting your day!”
Europe was quite a many hours ahead of New York. He asked me how my day had been.
“All good. My day went pretty much fine,” I said. “Gran, as always, invented a new recipe and called it by a weird name. It was equally weird in taste too. Got to think of ways and means to stop her from making it ever again!”
“I know right,” I laughed at a remark that he made. “Her cooking is heavenly but at times you seriously wish you were invisible to her!”
He asked me to name a souvenir that I wanted.
“Well, I can’t think of anything that I want from Germany right now,” I told him. “Speaking of Germany, Miss Thatcher today read to us some pages of the book written by Hitler,”
I told him all about the little known facts that the English teacher said about Hitler. We then talked about couple of other stuff. We even laughed at the jokes we cracked before I asked him, “When are you returning, Daddy? Can’t wait to play soccer with you!”
“I’m never coming back, Eleanor.”
A chill ran down my spine hearing him. “W-What?W-Why?”
“Because I don’t want to. You’re better off staying alone in this world.”
“No Daddy, please don’t say that,” my voice cracked as my heart grew numb, “Please come back! I don’t want to be lonely in this world. It scares me more than anything else. Please don’t leave me...!”
“I’ve already decided to abandon you, Eleanor. I won’t change that for anything. So don’t ring me up henceforth. Bye.”
My heart stopped beating when Daddy hung up.
My eyes flew open and I sat up on the bed with a start in my dark room. I felt my heart hammering violently in my chest and I was breathless to the tips of my toes.
You need to chill, El. It was just a dream. Daddy will never leave you. Doesn’t he say that he wants to come to college with you?
“Infact, if you call him right now, I’m sure he will answer you,” I said out loud to myself. I was just about to grab the phone from the night stand but stopped.
“He will be worried if I ring him up now. He will be like, why the actual hell are you vampiring in the middle of the night? Why aren’t you sleeping? And I don’t want to tense him,” I said to myself.
So, instead, I wore my slippers, got off the bed and went downstairs.
On reaching the kitchen, I pulled open the door of my freezer and grabbed the box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
I sat by the kitchen counter and opened the transparent rectangular box. I tossed one of the pieces into my mouth after unwrapping it. The heavenly flavor of hazelnut chocolate enticed my taste buds the moment I bit into the crunchy shell and I experienced my distressed nerves soothing at once. I ate some more of those spherical chocolates until I had calmed myself down completely.
“Maybe I should eat one Ferrero Rocher every night before going to bed like, one Ferror Rocher a day keeps bad dreams away! But then I’ll gain weight and I hate exercising. Argg! So many problems.”
I kept the box back in the freezer and went upstairs, yawning. And I fell asleep the moment I hit the bed and woke up straight when I felt the sun rays on my eyes. Grateful.
“Eleanor sweety, don’t you want to have the strawberry milkshake?”
“Huh..?” I blinked, realizing that I had been aimlessly stirring the milkshake in the glass with a spoon while lost in thoughts.
“Missing your dad, hun?” she asked fondly.
“Very,” I said, smiling a little.
“You can talk to him again today just like you did yesterday!”
“Yeah. I know. I’m just thinking of the usual stuff.”
“Honey, don’t think all that crap,” she said after a brief pause, sensing my thoughts. “I’ve told you so many times not to hurt yourself like this. It’s completely irrelevant!”
“I know. Whatever happened was very unfortunate. But at times, I can’t help but feel so guilty about it. I can’t help but hold myself responsible for Ma’s death....” I said, feeling downcast.
“Not true, child,” said Gran at once, drawing me in a comforting hug. “Not true. Do you know how hurt your Papa will be if he comes to know that you think like this?”
“Yeah, he loves me a lot,” I said, a small smile made its way to my lips. “It pains so much to see him keeping himself so occupied with work but, obviously, not at the cost of being a negligent parent to me. Sometimes I catch him looking at the stars at the night. I know he tries to feel closer to Ma by doing so...”
To the world and to me, Papa was an incredibly warm, kind, hard working and happy man. But it was only I who knew that he was an incredibly warm, kind, hardworking and sad man. Unknown to him, I could figure out the shadows of sadness lurking behind the happiness in his eyes and voice....
“Honestly, I’ve tried to play a matchmaker to him so many times in the past but then he made it quite clear that no other woman can ever replace your mother in his life. And he sticks by that till date.”
“It’s been a really long time....so many years since Ma expired but still Papa hasn’t been able to get over her death. He is still head over heels in love with her. He misses her so much. He is as heart broken and traumatized as he was when he had lost her many years ago in front of his eyes....”
“Eleanor dear, you shouldn’t hold yourself at fault for the misfortunes of the past. Trust me, it’s irrelevant.”
“I know, Gran. I try not to think about it much but then sometimes you cannot help it. I’m fine Gran, relax,” I smiled in assurance, holding her hand, “It’s my shitty problem. Nobody can help in that.”
Gran looked grim. I held the glass of milkshake with both hands and brought it to my lips. As much as I miss Ma, it pains equally to see my father so broken. But, truth to be told, even I, like Papa, don’t want to see any other woman in my mother’s place.
“Yoo hoo, El! Aren’t you going to school?”
I heard Josh shout from the front door.
“Jackson is in Grade 1, right?” asked Adam, referring to Devon’s younger sibling whom we watched stepping with his fashionable mother inside their car across the street and zoom away.
“Yep,” responded Josh, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, “and he goes to a different school, a more expensive one than ours.”
“Wonder why the parents have put him in another school. Don’t siblings usually go to the same school, like, Devon could have looked after the kid if they were in the same school.”
I snorted inwardly hearing Adam. Devon is so blunt and rude that I doubt he is even qualified to take care of his innocent six year old brother.
“The parents surely had something in mind before putting the two in separate schools,” I said quietly from the backseat of Josh’s car.
“Hey, sorry I’m late!” Stef hurried into the backseat of the car. I noticed Adam and Stef blush when their eyes met on the rear-view mirror. With a snicker, Josh started the car and drove the four of us to school.
When we reached the campus, there was an overwhelming number of these girls who were busy perfecting their make-up and hair and trying to look sexy.
We knew why. And I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Josh started sulking. Right then I caught the mischievous look in Stef’s eyes and I immediately understood what was on in her mind. I smirked to her in response.
“Whoa! What’s the occasion? Some Hollywood audition?” I asked dramatically, pretending to be amused.
“Damn, El!! What’s wrong with you? How can you not know what this is all about?” exclaimed Stef, feigning deep shock. “This happens everyday now! Haven’t you noticed it all this time??”
Josh’s cheeks were all swollen up. Somehow controlling my laughter, I played along, “Well, last time I saw such a sight was when Luke was single and most of the girls were trying to gain his attention. That was months ago----wait---- You don’t mean---” I paused over dramatically.
“You bet,” said Steffy. “Devon is the new smoking hot guy on the block. Girls are literally dying to get noticed by him. Who cares of other guys?”
At that Josh turned so grouchy that it looked like his nostrils could start giving out fire any moment. Stef and I finally broke down into peals of laughter.
Adam was somehow trying to not laugh. “That will be enough for today, girls,” he told us politely. To Josh he said, “Chill, man. They are just pulling your leg. Trust me, you’re the hottest guy in this school.”
“I hate these two women,” Josh frowned at us.
“But we love you so much, Joshie,” Stef and I both said in a shrill voice before breaking into laughter again.
Josh shot us a cold look each while Adam placed a finger on his lips signaling us to keep quiet.
We stopped laughing when we heard the collective gasps of the girls around. All eyes were on the wide entrance and sure enough, Devon had just driven in through the gates. He stepped out of his car wearing a brown shirt and black jeans with black shades over his eyes. Two guys literally hurried over to him. Devon tossed his car keys to them. Oh, so now he has cronies to park his car for him everyday.
Girls gasped crazily again when Devon removed his shades and started to walk with his bag hanging on one shoulder.
Such a show-off. Really.
“As usual, he hardly bothers to notice the girls around him,” I heard Stef say next to me.
She was right. Devon looked straight ahead of him as he walked. He didn’t gaze sideways even for once at all those girls desperate for his attention. I was caught off guard when, all of a sudden, I found his eyes on me and his walk slowed down. I rolled my eyes in annoyance seeing him stare at me. Then I saw the edges of his lips curl into a lopsided smile before he looked away from me and left.
“Surprising he didn’t make out with any girl yet,” I heard Adam say in amusement.
“Can we go to our classes, please?” I drew my friends’ attention to me. Stef and Adam were ready to leave with me but we saw that Josh was looking somewhere else.
We followed his line of vision and saw that he was gawking at Kelly. She had heavy make up on her face as always and wore a skirt that barely covered her hips and a backless top that showed more of her boobs than it covered.
Kelly lived in Crawford Lane too and many of the conservative old women living there frowned disapprovingly at her dressing sense but Kelly couldn’t be bothered.
She gave us a royal ignore when she walked past us. Thanks heavens! I suddenly felt the happiest soul on the planet.
Next we saw Josh eyeing Kelly’s ass until she was out of sight.
“Honorable Sir, are you done or should we wait some more for you?” I drawled, narrowing my eyes on him.
“Agreed Kelly’s a bitch but you can’t ignore the fact that she is damn hot!” said Josh, grinning boyishly at me. “She’s got great boobs and those hips of hers! Damn! I can’t keep myself from imagining her naked. Most of the guys in school do.”
“She has hardly left anything to imagination. She roams around 95% naked anyway,” Stef slurred.
“Exactly,” quipped Josh in excitement. “And that’s what makes it easier and more fun to fantasize her! Lucky are those guys who’ve actually got to bed her,” he sighed in disappointment.
“If you’re gonna speak about your plans to sleep with her, I rather not be here,” Adam said.
“Sorry, I got carried away,” he said goofily, running his hand through his hair. Adam shook his head in disapproval while Stef and I rolled our eyes. Josh, I tell ya!