The girl who stood before him was no the Suzanne of the school. This one has long blonde hair and big blue eyes and bare feet with pink toenails and large earrings.
“Riami, bring another glass, Tiaan is here!” She called out to a door at the top of the stairs.
Who is Riami? The name sounds familiar. There is a person in his class, but he can’t remember her clearly. Maybe it’s the girl with the terribly short hair?
He walked behind Suzanne and noticed that his hands were trembling. He tried to think of something to say, but his mind was blank.
“My father was busy setting up the bookshelves, so it’s a little messy. Move the boxes aside; then you can just sit on the bed,” said Suzanne as they walked into her room.
A little messy? Tiaan smiles and relaxes. This mess is not because of the new bookshelf. It has been weeks since Suzanne last cleaned.
While she rummaged through her bag for the science book, he saw a CD. The Four Seasons by Joshua Bell. His tongue comes loose. “When did you get this?” Can we play it? I cannot wait to listen to how it sounds!”
“My aunt sent it from New York.” She then gives the science book to Tiaan and with her other hand she moves a bunch of stuff out the way to get to the buttons of the CD player.
While the music played, they don’t talk. Tiaan’s head changes into high gear. He is such a monkey! How could he be so stupid yo get so excited about a guy who plays the violin?
“Oh please, not another concerto fan!”
Tiaan’s mouth was wide open.
Riami stands at the door with a bottle of Coke under her arm and four glasses on a tray. It is the girl that he knows, but she also looks different at school. Her short hair stands straight up on her head, and it is purple.
“Don’t worry about Riami, Tiaan,” said Suzanne as she turned down the music. “She is hooked on rock and roll.”
“Please pour some Coke in, I couldn’t open the bottle,” said Riami as she puts the bottle in Tiaan’s hand - which no longer shake.
Riami sits crossed-legged on an arm chair atop a pile of clothes. She picks up a huge bundle of wool and begins to knit.
“Can you swim? I am short a person for the relay team that is going to swim against the parents next week.” Tiaan saw that she suddenly looked at him and he steered his eyes away from the needles, with some difficulty.
“Yes. Yes, I can swim. I was in the swim team at my old school and…”
“Great. We practice on Monday afternoon. Can you be at the pool at 5? Suzanne, which colour should I use now? Orange or green?” She held two balls of wool in the air.
Tiaan feels the knot in his stomach loosen because it is not the u15 champion that is going to swim it is just going to be him, regular Tiaan. Hy has to clench his mouth not to laugh. Wonderful. Tiaan is in the relay team with a girl that knits and has purple hair on the weekend.
The doorbell starts ringing.
“It can only be Richard. I’ll be right back.”
Riami gives the needles to Suzanne violently, and Tiaan has a chance to get to see what she looks like. She’s quite nice, purple hair and all.
“Tiaan do you know Richard? He’s in 9C. This is Tiaan; he’s new in the school.”
Tiaan knows Richard. He was on the stage on Monday for a sports award. Tall and full of muscle. Tiaan’s stomach knot comes right back. He must be careful what he says.
“Yes, Tiaan! Bad, huh? To be in a new school. I hate it. I was in a lot of schools. My dad and his friends could not decide where they wanted to stay and every time I had to move with them.” Hy pours Coke for himself, takes Tiaan’s glass and pours again without asking.
Tiaan listens while the other guys talk about things that he doesn’t know about. He suddenly remembers that he just came here to borrow a book and that he didn’t tell his mum where he was going. But he sits still and listens to the voices that come from far.
His past life feels imaginary, far away as if he didn’t play the main character in the game. Swim, swim and more swimming so that he can get muscles like the other kids. So that he doesn’t stick out. Swim till the point where he can’t anymore so that everyone can think that Tiaan is a true sportsman.
“I’m hungry, and you guys?” asks Suzanne as she packs the glasses back onto the tray. “Let’s go make pizza.”
Riami threw her knitting aside and stood up. “I hope you’re not as fussy as this guy,” she says as she motions to Richard. “He only eats sushi and Indian curry.”
“That is better than the rice and meat you love, Riami!”
While they are laughing down the stairs, Tiaan remembers what he told his mum: “The children are…weird.”