The lemon scent stillness of Mr. Carthy’s room blew into my face as he plugged in his 1975 Lasko fan. I sat on the desk staring at page 65 of The Secret Garden, my favourite book of all time. My uncle used to read it to me anytime we could see each other face to face, which was little for he lived in India. Mr. Carthy walked over to me, me still staring at a sentence somewhere in the middle of the page, thinking about what part in my daily routine I would be doing right now if I were back in England.
“ Eve.” Mr. Carthy said as he leaned over with his giant shoulder almost touching me.
“ Getting the food for the sheep.” I replied in a daze not looking up from the book.
“ Um, Eve.” he poked me with his sausage finger.
“ Sorry what?” I looked up at him while shaking my head.
“ I just wanted to know what book that was.” he pointed to the book.
“ Huh,..oh...um...yeah it’s The Secret Garden.” I mumbled still completely confused what was happening. “ Have you read it before?”
“No, I haven’t.”
A moment of awkward silence followed. A group of girls sitting on desks across the room all looked at me with disgust. I looked down at my lap and then back at my book. I love The Secret Garden, mostly because it reminds me of the English countryside, but also because the characters form a friendship that I have never had. Even in England my closest friends were farm animals, adorable farm animals, yet still farm animals. The only thing I looked forward to when I heard we were moving here was the friends I would make. But now I understand that loneliness is a shadow, its dark and scary but the worse thing about it is it follows you no matter where you go.
“ So...” I started.
“ It’s the one with that English girl in, isn’t it?” Mr. Carthy asked. Then the bell rang. I grabbed my binder.
“ Um..yeah it is nice taking to you.” I rushed out of the classroom with my giant science binder in one arm and The Secret Garden in the other.
As the day past I couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Carthy’s conversation. Why did he come and talk to me? Yeah, I hadn’t talked to anyone since Dad made me move here but that was because no one had talked to me, other than Ms. Oakley of course who asked what I got for number 2 on last night’s math homework. Maybe I had to talk to someone first. Is that how it works here? If you want friends you got to work hard for them. Man, I didn’t know everything was made from “The American Dream”. I walked through the door into the art room, and started walking to my usual seat by the window, when some annoying boy yelled,
“Aw man! We have assigned seats?!”
I froze up, this was almost as worse as the day I spilled pig muck all over myself at the Perkins County Animal Fair.
“ Eve, you are sitting next to Sarah and Kyle.” I walked over and sat down on the chipped wooden stool and started drawing. I bit my lip, even though my Uncle always use to hit me on the nose and say,
“You can lie, cheat, and even trick but nothing is worse than a habit because a habit is addicting.”
I’ve always felt terrible biting my lip, it’s like when I can’t handle reality, my lip is there to bite, so I bite it. I kept drawing. It was of a hazy blue sky that settled on golden fields layered over each other. Kyle gave me a hard nudge in my back. I looked up to see Mr. David and the rest of the class looking at me. I put my colour pencils down. Redness flushed into my cheeks and myfreckles were suddenly over shadowed by embarrassment. My lip found it way between my teeth again.
“So class, today you shall finish the drawing of your dream. Then write the paragraph on why you chose to draw this piece and why you were inspired. Okay, get to it class.” Mr. Lee’s voice was soft and sweet which is completely different from his personality. I looked over at Kyle he was short and wimpy looking especially all crunched over his work like that. Not great for the farm life, I thought, but he looked peaceful and so I asked him. I said,
“What are you drawing?”
At first he didn’t say anything and just kept the moving his gray color pencil back and forth. So I decided to ask him again. A bit louder this time.
“What are you drawing?” I sort of yelled. He looked up at me with a puzzled look on his face.
“Sorry, I was just wondering what you were drawing.”
“ Oh, um, it’s the Empire State Building.”
“ What’s that?”
“ You don’t know what the Empire State Building is?”
“Sorry that was mean. It’s the tallest building in America. It’s where I want to work when I’m older.”
“What are you drawing?” he tilted his head over to try and see the work I had hid under my arms.
“Oh, uh, it’s the countryside, or at least it’s suppose to look like the countryside.”
“Ah, I see.” He smiled. He crunched over again and moved his narrow hand back and forth. I too bowed my head and kept colouring. So that’s how you do it? Make friends? I mean are we even friends? Or was that just a strange random conversation? I looked over at him again quickly. He was over at the sink talking to a boy that was tall and pudgy. A few minutes later Kyle came over with the tall pudgy boy.
“Hi, my name is David, I’m in your Spanish class.”
“Oh hi, my name is Eve.” I mumbled still shocked to hear his strong Scottish accent.
“ Your that one English girl aren’t you?” I paused and looked at him with a serious face. Why was everyone calling me that? I mean, yeah, I was from a different country and I had a different accent, but what was the issue? Had they never heard an English accent before? Rage bubbled up from my stomach. I wanted to scream at him and run out of the room. But instead I took three deep breaths, looked at him and said with a fierce tone,
“Yes. Your that one Scottish boy aren’t you?” Kyle laughed and placed his arm around his stomach, his voice was short and high-pitched. David slapped Kyle on the chest. David then walked over to the empty stool across from me.
“May I?” David said pulling the stool out from under the table. I looked down at my paper and started to color again. I bit down onto my lip, not because I was nervous but because I needed a way to handle reality.
“So I’m drawing a fish market.”
I tried to ignore him but he was sitting right there. I wondered when Mr. Lee would call him out and tell him to go sit back in his seat. But Mr. Lee never said anything, so I decided that ignoring David wouldn’t do any help especially because he is the only person actually trying to have a conversation with me. I looked up.
“Why?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I’ve always had an interest in fishing. So I think when I’m older, I’ll own a fish market.”
“My uncle owned a fish market.” I took a sudden breath. That was the first time I had ever told someone about my uncle.
“ I’m sorry.” David replied sadly.
“ For your loss.”
“My uncle isn’t dead.”
“ Of course! You really think I would share my sob story that early! We’ve barely met!” We both laughed.
“ You did look sad when you said it.”
“Yeah that’s only because he lives in India and I now live in America which means we’re even farther away for each other.”
We talked for the rest of the period. Huh, who knew a fish market could create a friendship.