“How was your day on Spanish school, Dennis?” Mom, or Mrs. Hallmore as she liked to be called, stood by the light blue kitchen table and sliced big, red, apples into small pieces. She smiled a bit.
We’d moved from the big city life in Chicago, to a small village in south Spain because dad, Mr. Hallmore, got ill, and the doctor advised him to move to a place with warmer and more peaceful environments. It sure is a lot hotter here. Maybe a little too hot now in the middle of summer and autumn, but our air-conditioning cools our little apartment a lot.
It wasn’t without arguments, about moving so long instead of just moving to a state longer south in USA, we’re here now. Mom wanted so much to live closer her sister, who lives in Rome, so she was completely happy with Terravieja. I didn’t have much to say, because I was only 14. Of course I didn’t want to move: all my friends lived in Chicago.
I was a bit angry at my friends for the moment, because none of them had taken any contact at all since we moved. Well, Claudia and Cleo had asked me if it was nice here, but except from that; nothing. It had been almost two weeks now!
Back home, we used to dance a lot, especially break-dance. Eric, Cleo, Claudia and five others and me used to practice in my garage. I wonder where they practice now, or if they practice at all. I was the, so called, leader.
“Wonderful”, I lied and tried to smile, but I think it looked more like a grimace. The truth was that it had been even worse than the first day. I dropped the bag on the floor and sat down on a faded ebony colored toggle chair by the table. It creaked, and it felt like it was going to break under me.
“Did the test go well then? “, she asked unaffected and looked profound at me.
We had had a big test in geography today. Mr. Cajèdos, the teacher, had made a huge number about how this test would decide how our life would become, Jennifer had told me. For me it just looked like he showed us some drama-dance with script. But if that was the case, I would grow up to be a poor, single man who slept on the streets, and got grey hair and wrinkles ten years before time.
The only things I’d understood in the questions were the names of places and the numbers. Not that that had helped me a lot.
It was incredibly boring to sit on the first row in the classroom in three whole hours, and not understand anything on the test sheet. Well, I did understand one question halfway: Cual campo hablan español? Which I believe means something like: who speaks Spanish? I didn’t have any idea so I answered: Hispanics and my dad. On the rest of the questions I answered with sentences in English that didn’t make any sense at all. Mr. Cajèdos doesn’t understand a word English anyway.
“Ok, I think” I said in what I believe was an ordinary tone. Mom looked skeptical at me. It was weird how inviting her green eyes looked. For a second I was tempted to tell her how hard it all was, but I pushed the thought aside.
To get away from the subject I asked her: ”What’s for dinner?” and peeked in the bowl next to her. In the bottom lay a massive orange and red lump. “Carrot salad on my birthday?” I cried disappointed before she could answer. Mom chuckled.
“No, that’s the dessert.” she said, still smiling, and poured the apples in the bowl. “It’s fruit salad. The lasagna’s in the oven.” She chuckled again low by herself. I had to smile too. Lasagna was my favorite!
“I called Jennifer and invited her to dinner, I hope that’s ok.” Mom said suddenly. “She comes here 4 o’clock. Why didn’t you tell her it was your birthday today? It’s not every day you get 15.” I shrugged. Jennifer was a really nice girl, but when she got excited, she got real excited.
She was from London so she was big-city-girl as well, but she’d lived here for almost two years now so she knew Spanish. She’d colored her hair light blond, but she luckily didn’t use tons of make-up as the rest of the girls in my class did. I was really glad I had Jennifer. Without her, I’d been totally lost and completely bored; I have never met a brighter or funnier girl ever.
And boy she could dance! My friends back home should have met her!
Suddenly a thought hit me, and it felt like a little sparkle of hope turned on in my chest. “I’ll be upstairs at my room, Mrs. Hallmore” I said and saw mom blush and smile warm before the room disappeared in shadows as I ran to the staircase. I took two steps in one in my hurry to get up the narrow, creaky stairs. On the top, I paused to catch my breath: I hadn’t worked out in a long time now. But when I jogged down the hall, I didn’t stop by the faded violet door belonging to my room. No, I continued to the end of the hall by a light blue wooden door.
As I opened it, a hot wind flowed in my face. The sun streamed through the window, reflected in one of the three big dancing-mirrors on the wall, and lightened up the big hobby room. The sparkle grew a little bigger in my chest by the sight of the computer. I turned on the air-conditioning and closed the moth eaten dark curtains with a little more strength than needed. The only source of light now, was the daylight from outside that shone through the cracks and the small holes in it, thought that was more than enough.
I sat down by the computer and turned it on. The sparkle was huge now, almost open fire. They had to send me an e-mail or something today, right? I mean, it was my birthday! They couldn’t have forgotten me completely. Or could they?
A little dot on the screen moved slowly forward in a little box as the computer loaded. Had it always been this tardy? Finally the little dot disappeared from the screen and four heads popped up on the screensaver: mom’s, dad’s, my little sister’s and mine.
Helena’s head, my sister’s, was the exact opposite of mine. She’d inherited mom’s green eyes and dad’s black hair. She was slender and sun-brown, thought that didn’t show on this photography. When she laid the long billowed hair on her shoulders like on this picture, she was real gorgeous.
I’d inherited dad’s grey eyes and mom’s fire-red hair. My face was skinny like dad’s face, but Helena’s face was plump. Not round, but perfect. In contrast of me, she was always zit-free. “I should perhaps keep an eye her in the time ahead. She is 13 now, and as beautiful as she is, she has to be in the binoculars to someone,” I thought a little disturbed.
I clicked on my mail-box. I was burning up inside now, and it was a little hard to breath. When I finally could see my mails, the fire died out at once, and I felt cold for the first time in Spain. Nothing from Cleo, nothing from Eric, and nothing from Claudia. Not a single message from anyone in the group.
After a few seconds, staring on the screen, I decided to send a mail to Eric. As I wrote, the anger overwhelmed the cold, and I started to get redder in my face than my hair was:
“Hi, Eric! Over here it is super hot. Our house is lovely, if you wondered. We live not so far from the beach, so we’ve spent some days there. We can’t go very often, because of school and work. Luckily we have a swimming pool in our backyard. If it was possible, I would have had a pool-party this weekend with you guise, you know, since it’s my birthd…”
“Pling,” the computer said, so loud that I jumped a little in my chair. The little letter-box in the right upper corner turned red, and the cero next to it turned to a one. I clicked on it and the list of messages and mails popped up. The first line was emphasized. It was a message from Claudia.
I opened it, and a big picture of all my friends back home smiled to me from the screen. Tall Eric and black-haired Cleo and freckled Claudia were in the front. Behind them were a row of people, maybe eight or nine girls and boys. Behind them again to the left, were thee red-haired, very, very tall clone-boys; the Olsen triplets. It was almost the whole class actually. Hanging down from the ceiling was a big banner saying: ”Happy 15th birthday, Dennis!”