Aftermath: Part Three
Eight Years Ago
I stayed at my new father’s house for weeks, seeing the nice alien doctor lady frequently while Ian took care of me. One night as I was coming out of the bathroom in my pajama, he was waiting for me outside.
“Did you brush your teeth?”
I didn’t answer him, looking away.
“Go back in and do it.” He said sternly.
I didn’t argue and went in, dreading the minty grossness that came with it. When I was over with, Ian escorted me to my room where Grump, his giant fluffy dog who’d cuddle me when my fear got the better of me was already waiting on the bed. I hopped under the covers and he came and nuzzled me.
“Now, Charlie there’s something I need to tell you.” Ian said, sitting on the bed.
“What is it?” I asked, feeling my heart speeds up.
“Monday morning, you’ll be going back to school. You’ve already missed almost two months of school and that’s enough. If you miss anymore, you’ll be held back…”
“Why do I have to go to school?” I frowned.
“You can’t stay here forever Charlie, you need to get an education. And beside, you need to be around people your age, I know you love Grump but he can’t be your only friend. And this comes recommended from Doctor Sij herself, you don’t want to disappoint her, do you?”
“So you’ll go to school and be a good student?”
I nodded and he gave me a hug.
As promised, Ian dropped me off to the Island’s only public school two days later. When the teacher introduced me to the others, all eyes fixed right on me. I wanted to runaway and hide. But I couldn’t, and if I did I’d disappoint Ian and the doctor…
I spent most of the first session with the teacher who taught me all the different geometry shapes so I’d be able to follow the assignments. A few students introduced themselves but I didn’t pay them too much attention. When recess came, since it was rainy we all went to the cafeteria where I got a cookie from the ladies behind the counter. As I left the register, a girl planted herself right in front of me arms crossed over her flannel shirt. She was tall, had short hair and dark tanned skin like me.
“I’m Marian.” She said with a big smile. “What’s your name?”
“Charlie…” I mumbled.
“Do you have a table already?”
“Then you have to come sit with us!” She didn’t give me the chance to consider, getting behind me and guiding me to her table. I didn’t resist, I didn’t know what she’d do if I did… We reached a table filled with boys and she pointed at them one by one. “That’s Kevin, Sebastian, George and Thaddeus, but he prefers T.D.”
They all spoke up at once and I just froze as they bombarded me with questions.
“Guys! Don’t crowd her!” Marian said.
“Where are you from?” The one she’d identified as George asked.
“I mean really, really from you know?”
“Ignore him. He’s dumb.” Sebastian said, George protested but Sebastian ignored him. “Do you play MonsterMaster?”
“It’s a card game.” He said taking some cards from his pocket. “You make a deck of monsters and you fight with them.” He said before launching into an explanation, I didn’t quite understand but I didn’t interrupt him, that would have brought their attention back to me… I nibbled on my cookie as he did and Marian offered me some cheese slices from her lunch bag. “We can play at lunch, I’ll show you.”
I nodded. I still had no idea how to play but that seemed nice. Recess ended soon after but T.D and Marian were in my class, I hadn’t noticed them. The two of them stuck to me like glue through the day. Like promised they taught me how to play that card game, although I knew they’d let me win.
When my first day back at school was finally over, T.D went away with his father but Marian stayed with me.
“You have to come eat dinner at my place tonight! I know my parents won’t mind.”
“I don’t know… I should ask Ian if I can…”
“Is that your dad?”
“He is now…” I answered, biting my lips, trying not to think of it. Marian tilted her head but I didn’t volunteer an explanation.
I looked around and found him waiting by his car. I went his way and Marian followed me.
“Hey there.” Ian said, smiling as I came close. “New Friend?” His gaze shifted to Marian.
“Can I have dinner at her place tonight?”
“Have they invited you?”
“They don’t mind, I bring people over all the time,” Marian said.
Ian looked at her for a moment.
“Alright, you can go.” He said with a deeper smile. “But first…” He opened his pocket and took out a small phone, putting it securely in my hand. “You remember my number?” I nodded. “Either way it’s coded in the phone already. Call me when you want me to come and pick you okay? Or if there’s anything you need.”
I nodded and he gave me a hug.
“‘Bye.” I turned back and faced Marian as Ian got back in his car.
“No way, you have your own phone?” She asked and I nodded. “If you let me play games on it, I’ll let you try my skateboard. My mom only lets me play in the car so I’m quiet.”
“I don’t know if there’s any games…”
“I know how to get them.”
I nodded again.
“Now come on, let’s go or we’ll be late for dinner.”
Just like that, she took my hand and guided me toward her mom’s car on the other side of the yard.