(See sidebar for Translator, Music, Novels, Awards etc.)
CHAPTER 4 – School, Clashes, and a Gathering.
(For links to previous segments see sidebar.)
Donald and Hugh had been invited for supper, and were made to feel completely at home by the Flynns. The only damper was provided by Tyrentia, who seemed to have her own personal thundercloud hovering over her. Things came to a head when she was asked to get a refill of juice for Hugh.
‘Let him ****-well get his own **** juice!’ she snapped.
‘Oh, Tye!’ her mother breathed in horror.
Her grandfather stood up, and said with ominous quietness, ‘To your room; now! Come back only when you are prepared to apologise to all of us, and to undertake that you will not be guilty of any such rudeness again. Language like that is not permitted in this house.’
For an instant, it looked as though she was going to defy him, but then she jumped up, nearly knocking her chair over, and marched out. Some thirty seconds later came the loud slamming of a door from upstairs.
Raine shrugged helplessly. ‘She’s been getting worse, lately. The home schooling isn’t working; I simply can’t keep discipline. Oh, I do hope she will be able to cope with going to school tomorrow, and can be accepted.’
Hugh was bewildered. ‘School?’ he repeated blankly. ‘What school; where; how …?’
‘Sorry, Hugh,’ Raine said, ‘there are rather a lot of things we haven’t been telling you until we had some idea of whether there might be a chance for them to work out or not. One is that arrangements have been made for her to go to school with you, if she still agrees, and to sit in on your classes for the next three days. The idea will be to see if she can fit in there and be accepted. If so, she will be enrolled, and we will move home to here.’
‘Oh,’ said Hugh. He thought for a minute while carefully resisting the temptation to see if he could spot what some late Shiners in the passage visible through the doorway were up to. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I think I may have upset Tyrentia by asking about her father. I didn’t mean to, but …’
Raine suddenly had a frozen expression. ‘Yes,’ she said tightly. ‘That would account for it.’ Donald and Hugh looked at her expectantly, but it was clear she didn’t intend to say any more on the subject.
Later, while the adults were having coffee and liquors, Hugh excused himself and went upstairs. There was only one closed bedroom door, and he knocked on it. ‘I’m sorry if anything I said upset you,’ he said.
‘Go away,’ came in muffled tones from within.
‘You will be coming to school tomorrow?’ he pleaded.
There was a long silence, and then came: ‘OK; now go away.’
As they were taking their farewells, Mr Flynn said, ‘I apologise for the behaviour of my granddaughter.’
‘I know she’s sorry, but she’s too “otherwise” to admit it,’ Hugh said. ‘Anyway, she will, actually, be going to my school tomorrow.’
He was treated to another look of total amazement.
The next morning Mr Flynn phoned to say he would be driving Tyrentia to the school, and would pick Hugh up on the way. Their arrival and attendance at the first classes went without incident. It was clear that the staff were trying to assess Tyrentia’s ability to some extent, because each of them asked her a number of questions during the lessons. She answered all of them intelligently, and also asked some good ones of her own. In the middle of one of them a Greeny appeared and seemed to be behaving in a comical manner, but she only glanced at it from time to time. Hugh could see how it was possible still to be Aware, but to act normally as far as other people were concerned. If only, he told himself bitterly, he had realised this years ago.
When ‘big break’ came, Hugh started to sneak off somewhere out of force of habit. ‘Where are we going?’ Tyrentia asked.
‘Out of the way,’ Hugh said.
‘Why? I want to watch the scene here,’ she said.
‘Because I … uh … just like to keep away from people,’ Hugh said feebly.
‘Oh, don’t be ridiculous. We’re staying right here,’ she said firmly.
The inevitable soon happened. Brian spotted them, and he and his gang sauntered over. ‘Heyoo!’ he yelled. ‘Where did you dig up that corpse? Looks like a zombie.’
‘Get **** lost, you **** little squirt,’ Tyrentia said.
‘Wha-a-a-at?’ Brian could scarcely believe his ears.
‘Sorry, about that. What she actually meant to say was go and crawl back into your sewer, you wretchedly insignificant little squirt,’ Hugh explained in a reasonable tone. ‘My name is “Hugh”, by the way.’
‘I must say, your version has a certain added zing,’ Tyrentia said. ‘Only trouble is that these morons won’t understand it.’
Brian was going a strangely mottled red with fury, and his friends were gaping. He took a step forward. ‘Showing off to Corpsy, are you? Well, now we’re going to …’ he snarled.
‘Just a minute,’ Hugh held up a hand. ‘In all the time you’ve known me, has it ever crossed your tiny mind to wonder what would happen if I decided to squash you? All of you, for that matter?’
Brian was beyond reason. He took a wild punch at Hugh, who effortlessly caught his wrist midway, and simply held it there. Spitting with fury, Brian next aimed a kick, but Hugh turned his body slightly and placed the sole of his shoe in the way of the swinging shin. Brian gave a yelp of agony.
Ben had decided to grab Tyrentia as an easier option, but the heel of her hand struck viciously upwards at his nose, and suddenly he wasn’t seeing too well. Sipho wisely chose to stay out of it.
A crowd was beginning to gather, and Hugh simply flung Brian away from him, with such force that the boy sat down hard, and said, ‘Now buzz off and keep out of mischief.’ Then he and Tyrentia strolled away casually.
‘That is an example of what has been bullying you for years?’ she exclaimed incredulously. ‘What a complete idiot you are.’
‘You’ve said it,’ agreed Hugh, with a sudden wonderful feeling of freedom. ‘That was so incredibly easy; and I didn’t even need to hit anyone!’
‘Well, I’m glad I did,’ she said, in a tone of savage satisfaction.
© Colonialist July 2013 (WordPress)