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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1463685-Alma-Chapter-2-Updated
by onaya3
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Supernatural · #1463685
Mali Meets Kevin's Family
10th September 2380

My alarm went off promptly at 7 AM the next morning. I leapt out of bed and bounded around my room as I dressed. I was actually excited to go to school again and see Kevin, as well as Lucia, Xenthe, Katrina, Maryann and Geoff.

Our two bedroom town house was very different to the Sabre home. Their house was large, with polished wooden floors and country style furniture. Our town house was small, had grey carpet or black tiles with modern, stainless steel furniture, since it came fully-furnished. The Sabre home was adorned with framed photos of family as well as antiques, while there were no family pictures or ornaments about our place yet.

All of this was noted as I skipped down the stairs and into the kitchen to have breakfast.

Mama was sipping on a cup of coffee and she indicated with her hand that she had procured my box of cereal, bottle of milk and bowl. I sat down beside her on a cushion-top, stainless steel stool at the kitchen bench. I noted our black granite bench tops that were contrasted against our white cabinets then the black tiled floor.

“Our house is very stark, isn’t it?” I said, as I poured the cereal into the bowl. Mama gave me a curious look, so I continued. “The Sabre house is very similar to Grandmama's house. It’s homey with lots of photos and ornaments.”

Mama’s eyebrows rose as she said quietly, “Isn’t that nice for the Sabre’s.”

I didn’t catch the tone in her voice, so I went on, “Their garden is big and beautiful but we don’t have one. All we have is a small, paved courtyard.”

“Obviously the Sabre’s haven’t gone through a messy divorce and they didn't have to relocate to accept a new job.” Mama spoke crisply.

I turned her way, “When I was born, did either you or Papa discuss who would stay home to look after me?”

“Your Grandmama looked after you while your Papa and I worked.” Mama said annoyed.

This made me stop me talking and look downwards, as I picked up my spoon. Half-heartedly, I mixed the cereal around in the milk as my appetite wavered.

“Um…” I changed the subject, “…how was your first day at work?”

“When you start a new job there will always be the expected period of transition," she said stiffly.

I think I just head the politically correct version of, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

“You said you met some Lokoti who worked at the plant and they were nice?” I tried to be positive.

“Oui," she said simply. “They were kind and helpful.”

That was all she said, indicating that she didn’t want to discuss it any further. I quieted as I turned my attention towards my breakfast instead.

*****

Mama dropped me off at school again on her way into work. Yesterday, I nervously walked up to the school’s front steps; today, I almost skipped up them. However, as soon as I entered the building, my heart sank. I realized I had no idea how to find Kevin, Lucia or Xenthe.

“Mali? Hey Mali! Over here!”

Just then I saw Kevin's tall stature come towards me through the crowded corridor.

“Kevin!” I gushed in relief.

“C’mon.” He took hold of my hand – he took hold of my hand! – to lead me through the bustling hallway.

The next thing I knew, I was standing with Kevin, Lucia and Xenthe in front of a set of lockers.

“This locker is yours.” He pointed. “We did a swap with Brian Green, so he’s got your locker and you’ve got his. Now, yours will be next to ours.”

I looked on the dull grey, metallic, narrow cupboard like it was the best thing since sliced bread.

“Oh Kevin, that’s so nice of you!” I gushed.

“Well, actually it was Xenthe.” He confessed. “He charmed Brian into swapping with you.”

I looked knowingly on my new, pale friend with his mysterious ways, picturing this happening.

“It was Kevin’s idea.” Xenthe shrugged. “I just arranged it for him.”

Next, I watched Lucia and Xenthe either take things out or put things into their lockers, as they readied for their first class.

“Um, did you need to take anything out of your bag?” Kevin asked.

I gave him a funny look, “Take things out?”

“Yeah you know, for your next class and stuff.” He said.

“But wouldn’t I do that inside the classroom, like taking out my laptop?” I asked, puzzled.

Xenthe chuckled to Lucia, “Oh yeah, I can see that my excellent skills of negotiation has come to fruit.”

“She’ll probably never use it," she snickered back.

“That’s alright, Mali," my pale friend smirked. “At least you’ve got something to stand in front of and look occupied.”

I watched Kevin take a couple of books out of his bag and place them inside of his locker, before he slammed it shut and punched in his combination.

Just then the bell sounded loudly, signalling the start of class.

“Have you got Math?” Kevin guessed.

Quickly, I scrambled to take out of my bag my mobile phone to check my electronic schedule. “Oui, I mean yes.”

“This way,” Lucia was the first to turn and head through the moving crowd.

With her tall stature, she easily cleared the way for Xenthe who walked right behind her and then Kevin walked with me.

*****

It was nice not having to worry about where to sit, as Lucia, Xenthe and Kevin made it known I was with them.

When we sat down in our classroom, Kevin spoke gruffly to a boy who was about to sit in the seat next to his, “That’s Mali’s spot.”

The boy quickly moved away, not wanting to take on Kevin with his greater size. I smiled at him to say thank you before taking my seat. Then I turned my head to see Lucia and Xenthe take the two seats behind us.

I noticed that the rest of the students took note of who I was sitting with, as a couple of them even whispered to each other.

Maybe they thought it was strange at how quickly I had latched onto Kevin’s, Lucia’s and Xenthe’s offer of friendship? But I didn’t care. The Lokoti kids have been nicer to me than anyone else has been.

Another reason why I felt like I fitted in with them was because as everyone else wore the latest fashion, I didn’t look like the odd one out with my old clothes. The rest of our classmates all strove to look the same with their music-video fashion and immaculate hair. Then there were the four of us, wearing either denim or suede or in Xenthe's case, mostly black which suited his pallor.

After Math, Kevin and I split up from Lucia and Xenthe as we headed into Geography and the other two went into History.

Again, Kevin ensured that we were sitting together although there were a couple of Lokoti in our class that he could have sat with. I thought that the kids might be put off by his attention to me, but they weren’t. They even passed me polite smiles as they turned on their laptops.

I turned on my computer and clicked on my Geography folder to prepare for the lesson.

“Good morning class.” Mr. Curtis walked into the room while sipping on a cup of coffee. “I’m looking forward to seeing your reports that you prepared on your designated countries. You can email them for me to grade tonight.”

I had saved the report on India on my computer that Kevin and I had worked on together last night. I clicked on the document and selected the ‘send to’ option.

“Oh yeah, Mr. Curtis’ email address is this.” Kevin leaned over to clumsily type it into my laptop.

He made several mistakes which he had to keep correcting. He mustn’t know his own strength, as he hit my keyboard so hard that certain letters came out two or three times. Once the document was sent, he sat properly in his seat again.

“Today we’re going to focus on the Turkey," our teacher announced as he turned on the electronic board.

A picture of this region appeared on the screen for the class to look at. However at the same time, a pop-up message appeared on my computer screen from Kevin:

IF UR NOT DOING ANYTHING 2NITE WUD U LIKE 2 COME 2 DINNER @ MY PLACE?

My heart sped up as I read his words, but to avoid attracting any attention, I tried to play it cool. I didn’t look at Kevin, but calmly I typed back:

I’LL CHECK WITH MAMA FIRST BUT SHOULD BE OK.

As soon as this was sent, as casually as I could, I sent an email to Mama's mobile phone.

CAN I PLEASE GO TO KEVIN’S FOR DINNER TONIGHT?

“Chrissie, can you please tell us the capital of Turkey?” Mr. Curtis pointed at the student beside me.

Momentarily, I froze in fear over my teacher catching me doing something other than schoolwork.

“Yes Mr. Curtis," she answered. “It’s Istanbul.”

“Nice try, Chrissie.” Mr. Curtis returned his attention back towards the map on display on the electric board. “It is in actual fact, Ankara.”

Then Mr. Curtis changed the picture on the electric board to show an important but old looking building in Ankara, as he began to rattle on about Government.

My laptop made a 'ping' noise from receiving an email, which made Kevin's head turn. He snuck a look at my computer before looking around at the other students to see if they noticed. Then as if to draw attention on himself instead, he gave a large stretch.

“Kevin.” Mr. Curtis next called on him.

“Ah yeah?” he almost jumped out of his seat.

“Can you please tell me what's the dominant religion in Turkey?”

“Um, is it Muslim?” he guessed.

“Well done Kevin!” Mr. Curtis beamed. “A gold star for you! Yes class, the population of Turkey has followed the Muslim faith for centuries.”

Our teacher began spouting off some historical facts about Turkey, in particular the different wars it waged, when I read Mama's reply email.

I’LL BE WORKING LATE AGAIN SO YOU MAY GO TO KEVIN’S FOR DINNER. SEND ME HIS ADDRESS & I’LL PICK YOU UP ON MY WAY HOME.

Kevin and I exchanged looks and I started to nod to show I could come, but we were interrupted.

“Kevin," our teacher called his name again.

“Yeah Mr. Curtis?” his head immediately snapped around in his direction.

“I’m curious...” He began.

“Er, you are?” Kevin responded nervously.

“Talking about religion and since the Lokoti tribal lands are just outside of town, maybe you could share some information with us?”

“OK…?” he looked on puzzled.

“Can you please tell us briefly about the Lokoti Tribe’s religion?” Mr. Curtis requested.

“Er, our religion?” he gave a funny look. “Um, we don’t have a specific religion.”

“No?” Mr. Curtis waited to hear more.

“Um, no.” Kevin passed an awkward look to another girl in class who was Lokoti.

“Our belief structure is a lot more open to interpretation,” the girl spoke up.

“Really, how so?” Our teacher asked intrigued.

“We have an idea of the afterlife but we accept that our beliefs are similar to many faiths," the Lokoti girl continued.

“Go on, Cathy.” Mr. Curtis encouraged as he sat on the side of his desk.

“There are some members of our tribe who follow Christianity.” Cathy explained. “We both have sacred items or important talismans.”

“Can you give us some examples of this?” Our teacher asked, intrigued.

“Some of our Christian members wear crucifixes around their necks, but the whole tribe respects our Sacred Totems. Most Lokoti believe in Spirit Guides who are important animals or aspects of nature. We try to be mindful of the messages that our Guides are imparting to us, as we protect the land which also holds spiritual significance.” She said matter-of-factly.

Mr. Curtis next queried, “Then how does Christianity fit into this?”

Kevin answered for her, “Christians have similar ideas about the afterlife and re-birth as the Lokoti. They believe that Jesus Christ was born and died and then he lived again. We both believe in the idea of the next life.”

“When you say ‘the next life’ do you mean the ‘afterlife’?” he wondered.

“You could say that,” both Kevin and Cathy answered vaguely.

Mr. Curtis sensed that was all the two representatives from the Lokoti tribe wanted to say on the matter.

“Thank you for sharing that with us," he stood up again to move along with his lesson. “Sean, can you please tell us about the climatic conditions in Turkey?”

As our class continued, I looked at Kevin to see if he was feeling uncomfortable about being put on the spot like that. However, when he gave me another one of his goofy grins, I saw that it was easily forgotten. I was beginning to think that Kevin Wisetail wasn't one to hold a grudge, which only made him nicer in my eyes.

*****

The bell went, signalling the end of Geography and the start of recess.

“Mama will let me come to dinner," I told him as we walked towards the cafeteria. "But could I please get your address so she can pick me up afterwards?”

"Sure Mali, but I don’t mind giving you a lift home again.”

“Merci,” I smiled, “but I think Mama would like to pick me up so she can get an idea of where I’ve been going after school.”

“Of course, my parents would wanna know too," he agreed. “My address is 3 Hill Road, Lokoti Tribal Lands, inside the Lokoti National Park.”

My eyebrows rose in surprise, “That’s your actual address?”

“Yeah,” he shrugged.

As I typed it into my phone, I said in an impressed voice, “It must be nice having a National Park named after your people.”

He explained, “Well, my people have always lived on the land. Before World War Three, it used to be called Hunter National Park. Then Hodge Endeavor ensured it became World Heritage Listed so it will always be protected and that's when they changed the name. It was kinda like an official ‘handing over’ to my people although it’s always been our home. Hodge Endeavor sponsoring it in our name just made it official for outsiders to accept it.”

My eyes widened impressed at how a huge multinational corporation like Hodge Endeavor would do this for the tribe.

Then he changed the subject, “My Mom will be home when you come over. I think I told you she occasionally works at a child care centre in Alma but she didn't today. She can’t wait to meet you and neither can my Dad. You'll meet him at dinner, he’s a Park Ranger.”

“Really?” I listened with interest.

“You’ll also meet the rest of my family. Well, you already know Katrina but you’ll meet my youngest brother, Hugh. But you won’t meet my older sister Edwina, because she’s studying at college in Fairbanks. She lives on campus and comes home one weekend a month.”

“Bon," I smiled at his eagerness to introduce me to his family.

*****

At lunch when I checked my phone again, I saw Mama sent a text message that she received the address and she’ll pick me up at 9 PM from Kevin’s.

“Is that alright?” I checked.

“Yeah!” he chuckled in amusement.

“Why wouldn’t it be OK?” Katrina asked, giggling too.

My head ducked shyly, so Xenthe said, “Mali is well-brought up, so if she’s invited into somebody’s home, she wants to abide by their curfew.”

I rushed out, “I hope it’s not the wrong time or anything, in case we’re in the middle of eating dinner when my Mama comes to take me home.”

“No fear, Mali.” Kevin passed me a grin. “We eat dinner at seven o’clock on the dot.”

*****

The rest of the school day passed pleasantly enough. At the end of my last class which was Home Science with Lucia, we walked together to the front entrance where Kevin and Xenthe were waiting. Then all four of us strolled to the student car park where her hover-car was.

Just like the day before, I hopped onto the back seat with Kevin as Lucia and Xenthe sat in the front. But something slightly different happened today that didn’t happen yesterday…Kevin took hold of my hand. I looked his way in surprise, which he returned with a soft smile.

I felt like my heart opened up like a blooming flower at his show of affection. Excitedly, I looked out the windows out at the passing trees as Lucia’s hover-car zoomed out of Alma and towards Lokoti Tribal Lands. I started to remember the way, as she turned off the highway and onto a smaller road and we passed the sign that announced we were entering the Lokoti National Park.

The tree line broke to show the welcoming sight of the small but tidy suburb of the Lokoti Tribal Lands. This made Lucia slow so we were only travelling 20 km/h. Another sign we passed stated that this was the official speed limit and I could see why. Lokoti kids were everywhere, walking this way and that, after being dropped off by the schools’ hover-busses.

However, unlike yesterday, this time when Lucia started to drive up the steep hill her house sat on top of, she stopped the hover-car halfway.

“Thanks for the lift.” Kevin said as he opened the door and climbed out. “C’mon Mali.”

“What?” I wondered what was going on.

“This is your stop.” Xenthe laughed at my confusion.

“It is?” I asked. “Oh, well thank you for the lift, Lucia.”

“See ya Mali," she sung back.

I opened my door and climbed out too. As soon as I shut it, her hover-car lifted up from the ground and glided onwards. I found Kevin standing at the beginning of a concrete driveway, waiting for me.

I remembered from yesterday how he said he lived on the same hill as Lucia. “Is this your house?"

“Yep," he retook hold of my hand. “C’mon, let’s go inside.”

Just as he started to escort me up the driveway, we heard the sounds of wolf-whistling. We looked back to see Katrina walking up the steep road with another boy. The two were jostling each other with the younger boy pulling faces.

“That’s my little brother Hugh.” Kevin grinned in good humour.

We stood on the driveway as we politely waited for them to catch up.

“Kevin and Mali, sitting in a tree…” Hugh started to sing but he was cut off by his older sister whacking him on the arm. However, Kevin’s little brother wouldn’t be put off, he goaded, “…K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes dating, then comes mating and then comes baby sitting in the carriage.”

“Shut up Hugh!” she punched him harder on the shoulder.

The twelve year old boy ran up the driveway ahead of us laughing loudly as he raced inside the Wisetail’s house.

“Just ignore him, he’s always hyper after school.” Katrina rolled her eyes.

I giggled shyly as Kevin firmly held onto my hand and led me up the steps of his front veranda.

I found the Wisetail’s house looked very similar to the Sabre’s, it was also constructed from wood and it too had a stone chimney. However, it wasn’t as big as the Sabre’s. Katrina went in first and Kevin held the door open for me and walked in afterwards. I observed their house also had an open living room with a combined lounge and dining room, with a separate kitchen and a wooden staircase that led to the upper part of the house. Similar to the Sabre’s, their furniture looked country style and lived-in.

At the dining table, a half-Native Alaskan woman in her forties, sat with a portable sewing machine, mending some men’s clothes.

“Hi Mom!” Hugh ran up to kiss her on the cheek before disappearing into the kitchen.

“Hi Mom!” Katrina planted a kiss on her other cheek and followed her brother. Next, I heard her chastise, “Wash your hands first before you get stuck into that you little grub!”

“Hi Mom.” Kevin led me by my hand to stand by the table. “This is Mali Roanne.”

Mrs Wisetail looked up from her work and smiled warmly. “Hello Mali, it’s nice to meet you.”

I let go of his hand to walk up and shake hers. “Hello Mrs. Wisetail, I’m pleased to meet you.”

“Ooh an accent!” her smile widened. “We don’t get a lot of international visitors in these parts. No wonder my son has taken an instant liking to you.”

I felt my face start to flush but Kevin casually retook hold of my hand.

“My Mama was offered a job at the new hydro power plant. She’s a Diagnostics Specialist. That’s why we moved here.” I told her.

“Mrs Roanne will be coming by at nine o’clock to pick Mali up," he added on.

“OK then," she nodded. “I went to the supermarket this morning and bought a caramel mudcake from the bakery section. I’ll serve coffee and cake tonight when Mrs Roanne arrives.”

“Cool!" he grinned at the yummy treat.

“Kevin, how about you take Mali into the kitchen and offer her some cookies and milk?” his mother suggested.

“OK," he agreed and next he led me by the hand into the other room.

When we walked into the kitchen, Hugh started up again, “Kevin and Mali, sitting in a tree -”

“Shut up Hugh!” Katrina pinched his arm.

“Oow!” he complained. “Mom, Katrina is pinching me!”

“I’ll do worse than that, if you don’t mind your manners Hugh," she sung back.

He pouted at her threat as Katrina taunted, “Ha ha! Sucked in!"

Kevin guffawed good naturedly at the two, as he busied himself by pouring two glasses of milk before holding out the cookie tin, full of home-made biscuits.

“Mmm...!” I crunched on one. “This is nice!”

“They’re Anzac biscuits." Katrina said. "They’re an Australian recipe.”

I looked on impressed as I don't think I've eaten anything from Australia before.

“Uncle Declan gave us the recipe.” Kevin added on. “Lucia's great, great, great grandmother was Australian.”

“Really?” I listened, interested.

“Lucia and her sisters are very multi-cultural.” Katrina declared. “They have Italian, Australian, English, Chinese and Lokoti inside of them.”

“Oh.” I pondered this. “Her mother looks half-Lokoti, but what about her father?”

Kevin advised, “Uncle Declan is American-Italian, his grandparents came from Italy. He moved to Alaska from Indianapolis when he was three years old and was raised in both the Lokoti and in the Italian Catholic tradition.”

“I see.” I remembered something else. “So that’s what you were talking about when you told Mr. Curtis how some Lokoti are also Christian.”

“Yeah," he shrugged. “Lucia’s parents always celebrate Christmas and Easter. What religion are you Mali? That is, if you follow a faith.”

“Um,” I wondered how to put this, “the majority of my country is Muslim, so we celebrate Muslim holidays. But my family also follows another belief structure. My Grandmama is a gifted Healer in our part of Nara.”

“Cool!” he nodded enthusiastically.

"Really?" Katrina looked impressed.

“Boring!” Hugh sung and walked out of the kitchen. “Mom, I’m going to Seb’s place.”

“OK then," Mrs Wisetail said. “Just be home by six for your bath before dinner.”

*****

After we finished snacking on the biscuits with our glasses of milk, I helped Katrina and Kevin put our dirty glasses into the dishwasher. Then we exited the kitchen and went outside again. Kevin opened the front door for Katrina and I before he walked out after us. I followed the two down the veranda steps but I hesitated when they headed for the tree line to go into the woods.

“This way," he said, taking hold of my hand again.

“Where are we going?” I queried.

“To the river," Katrina answered as she walked ahead of us.

“The river?” I echoed.

I followed the brother and sister along a dirt path which was sloping downwards through the trees. We trekked down the pathway through the woods, for about ten minutes until we arrived at a large river at the bottom. The water looked so clean, it was the most curious colour of dark blue that I'd ever seen.

On the riverbank I saw some other familiar faces. Lucia was wading barefoot in the shallow part of the water with Xenthe sitting on a large rock, staring off into the distance. Even Maryann arrived a minute after us, appearing from another dirt path carved into the hillside.

“What is this, a convention?” Katrina joked, making us all laugh.

Kevin and I sat beside Xenthe on the rock whereas Katrina and Maryann sat on a log together.

I took a deep breath of the pine-scented air as I looked out at the surrounding snow-tipped mountains and then back at the deep, dark blue of the river. I could see why this was a popular place to hang out. The soft roar of the rushing river coupled with the tall, evergreen trees around us, could refresh the mind and the spirit.

“Besides playing soccer or hanging out here, what else do you do in your spare time?” I asked the group.

“I dunno,” Maryann shrugged.

“Different things,” Katrina shrugged too.

“Hang out with friends, watch movies on Internet TV, attend tribal functions, go to the cinema or to the Bakery Café in Alma…” Lucia's voice trailed off.

“Yeah, different things,” Katrina summed up.

“You don’t go to parties where people drink or do drugs?” I asked.

“Nope,” everyone answered at once.

“Why, do you do go to those sorts of parties, Mali?” Xenthe turned my way.

I frowned, “I tried smoking once but I didn’t like it.”

“Can’t say that I blame you," Lucia said as she picked up a rock from the riverbank. "Cigarettes make you stink, too."

Next, she threw it across the river in a way that made it skip across the surface, all the way to the other side.

“Mon Dieu, you ARE strong!” I laughed out my surprise.

Kevin hopped up and came to stand by her side. He looked down for a couple of moments until he spotted a rock that he liked and picked it up. When he threw his stone, it also skimmed across the flowing waters until it too hit the far side. My eyes widened as I'd thought that the river was so wide, not even a grown man could throw a rock that far.

Now Xenthe decided to have a go. He stood up, picked up a stone and came to stand on the other side of Lucia. When he threw his rock, it skimmed the flowing waters to half way across the river and then it sunk. Lucia and Kevin laughed jovially at their friend and gave him a playful shove.

“Yeah well, I’m still faster than the pair of you put together.” Xenthe said sulkily.

So I decided to have a go and I stood up and looked around for a circular stone with a flat side. I found one and picked it up, before I came to stand in between Kevin and Xenthe. I held it in my hand for a couple of seconds to get used to its weight.

“Go Mali!” Maryann cheered me on.

“Let’s see how our international competitor goes...” Katrina put on a sports commentator voice, “…OK ladies and gentlemen, our visitor representing the country of Mali is moving into position… Now she’s raising her arm and from the intense look on our sportswoman’s face, she’s judging the weight of her rock and the distance before her… Quiet in the stands please, she’s raising her arm… And that’s it, she’s thrown her rock!”

My stone didn’t even reach halfway, nor did it skip along the water like theirs did. It went up, it went down and it went ‘plop’ into the water, straight to the bottom. Everybody cracked up laughing, including me, at my dismal first try.

“How did you make yours bounce like that?” I wondered aloud.

“Mali, I don’t know what the rocks were like in your country, but here in Alaska, our rocks don’t bounce.” Xenthe said humorously.

“But…” I frowned confused, “…I thought I saw yours did!”

“It’s called ‘skipping stones’, the rocks skip over the surface.” Kevin said as he picked up another. “You throw it under your arm and keep it low and if you throw it in a certain way, it skips over the water.”

He demonstrated by throwing his second rock and it skipped perfectly across the river until it reached the other side.

“You guys are so strong!” I shook my head in disbelief.

For some reason this comment made everyone look uncomfortable while Kevin, Lucia and Xenthe exchanged awkward looks.

“C’mon Kevin,” his sister stood up, “let’s teach Mali how to do this.”

We all took turns as I was taught how to make stones ‘skip’ with Kevin acting as my patient coach. But I was hopeless at it. It took six goes until I could make a rock skip a quarter of the way across the river until it disappeared into the deep, dark blue.

*****

When it came time to head back, we all split up and went our separate ways. I followed Kevin and Katrina back up the dirt track that we'd come down. However, climbing up the steep slope was harder than it was coming down it. I started to lag behind again as I puffed loudly, trying to keep up with the other two. When Kevin noticed I'd fallen behind, he politely stopped and waited for me to catch up.

“Hop up," he lowered his back to give me another piggy-back ride.

“No, it’s alright.” I blushed. “I think it’s because your air is different that it makes me puff more.”

“It could also be because we're at a different altitude than where you lived in Nara." Katrina offered an explanation.

“I think you're right, it’s cooler and feels thinner.” I agreed.

“Oh.” Kevin looked like he felt bad about this fact. “Sorry.”

“Sorry?” his sister gave his apology a funny look.

“I hope you don’t move back to Mali because of it," he said concerned.

“No.” I smirked. “I don’t think Mama and I will.”

“Good!" his grin was immediate then he turned his back towards me again. “So climb up and I’ll give you a ride.”

“You may as well.” Katrina giggled. “He’s not going to give in.”

"Truly, I'm fine," I promised.

“C’mon you two!” she harrumphed. “You’re slower than an Alaskan winter!”

Then like a mountain goat, Katrina sprinted up the rugged dirt track, leaving us behind.

“You’re all so fast and strong!” I cried out in frustration.

“Sorry," he dug his hands deep into his jeans pockets. “We didn’t mean to be.”

I passed him a sheepish smile, “Then I’m sorry for being so slow and weak.”

“Yeah but you’re also pretty and soft, so it’s fine with me.” He smiled back.

Pretty and soft? I’ve never heard a boy use that combination before. I liked it. So this time when he offered me his back to climb on, I accepted his offer. He wrapped my legs around his waist as I hung onto his shoulders and with a spring in his step, he carried me the rest of the way home.

*****

As soon as we exited the woods Kevin lowered me to the ground. Upon our return, I saw another hover-car parked on his driveway. It looked like an off-road vehicle and it had a Federal Wildlife Services emblem on it.

“Dad’s home," Kevin announced. “C’mon, I’ll introduce you.”

He led me by the hand up the veranda steps before opening his front door for me again.

Inside, I found a Native Alaskan man who looked like he was in his twenties standing in the lounge area in a Park Ranger’s uniform.

Kevin’s father had bronzed skin and long, black hair tied back in a pony tail. His dark brown eyes, which I recognized were the same shape as Kevin and Katrina’s, had a kindness about them. He stood still, listening, as his two youngest children, bombarded him with stories about their day. I could see where Kevin got his tall, broad-shouldered stature from. However, as soon as he saw me walk in, his eyes widened in surprise. He stared at me, almost transfixed, as Katrina and Hugh quieted. They saw his attention was no longer on them but on their visitor.

“Dad, this is Mali Roanne,” his eldest son introduced, “Mali, this is my Dad.”

“Hello Mr Wisetail.” I greeted nervously.

Mr Wisetail's eyes looked down to see Kevin holding my hand before they met my own.

“Hello Mali.” He smiled eventually. “You have an interesting name.”

“I do?”

“It’s not every day you meet a person who was named after their country.”

“Yeah, it would be like meeting somebody with the name ‘Alaska’ or ‘Canada’!” Hugh snorted which made Katrina whack him again.

“Alaska is a state you dumb-ass!” she corrected.

“Oow! Stop hitting me! You’ve been hitting me all day!” he complained.

“I haven’t seen you all day you little cry-baby!” she poked him in the side.

“Get off!” Hugh shoved her before he quickly ran away.

But Katrina wasn’t about to let him get away that easily and she chased him upstairs.

“Kids, no running in the house!” Mrs Wisetail called out.

I watched as she came out of the kitchen and walked over to her husband’s side. Mr Wisetail put his arm about her and affectionately rubbed his nose against her cheek. They looked like they'd been married for years except for the difference in their ages.

“How is my wonderful wife?” he asked the older looking woman.

“Tired," she said simply. “I did the grocery shopping this morning and from the size of our ‘tribe’, that’s a LOT of food.”

“You should have waited and then you could have taken Kevin or I with you.” Mr Wisetail gently scolded.

“Oh I know, but I was in Alma anyway, running errands. I dropped in at the child care centre and picked up my roster for next week. When I got home, I was visited by Jean asking if one of the kids would look after the plants in their greenhouse when her family goes on holiday. Then Uncle Declan dropped by with the Anzac biscuits and he invited us to lunch this Saturday. Finally, I spent the rest of the afternoon mending yours and Kevin’s clothes.”

Uncle Declan, as in Lucia's father, he made the Anzac biscuits? Now why didn’t that surprise me? I thought they were delicious.

Mrs Wisetail looked up into her husband’s waiting eyes, “What did you do today, Mr Park Ranger?”

“I rode around in the hover-car admiring the scenery as usual.” He joked.

When Mr Wisetail bent his head to tenderly kiss Mrs Wisetail that was our cue to give the adults their private time.

Kevin led me by the hand upstairs then down a hallway, to his bedroom. I remembered that he shared with his little brother and I found two single beds inside. Hugh was sitting on one, playing with an electronic comic book.

“Can you go and read that somewhere else?” Kevin barked out.

“Get stuffed!” Hugh retorted. “Just because you get a girlfriend, I’m not about to be evicted from my own room!”

“If you don’t leave now, I’ll tell Mom it was you who broke her antique glass photo frame," he said coolly.

Hugh’s reaction was quick, "Alright, I’m outta here.”

He bounced off the bed and carried his comic book with him. Kevin shut the door behind and then he waved his hand towards his bed for me to sit down. I started to feel nervous about being alone with him in his bedroom, so I sat on the edge of the bed. I felt tense, as he casually came to sit beside, but in a more comfortable position with his back against the wall.

“Um, how many bedrooms does your house have?” I queried.

“Four," he answered. “Mom and Dad are in the main bedroom, Edwina has Kurt’s old bedroom, Katrina has her own room and then Hugh and I share. When Kurt was alive, Edwina and Katrina had to share. But after his death and because they fought so much, Edwina was moved.”

“I see," my eyes turned downcast. “Um, how old was he when he died?”

“Kurt was fourteen.”

"You said he died the same night Xenthe's father and sister did," my eyes met his once more. “How – how – how did it happen?”

“Mali, is it cool if I don’t say yet?” he shifted uncomfortably. “Let’s just say it wasn’t natural causes and leave it as that.”

“Of course,” I looked downwards again as I inwardly kicked myself.

“You didn’t offend me or anything," he quickly added on. “It’s just um, a long and private story.”

“I see.” I stared at the floor, awkwardly. “And er, how old is Edwina?”

“Edwina's eighteen years old. She and Katrina are the smart ones in the family. They both skipped a grade which is why Edwina is already at College and it's also why Katrina's in High School even though she's two years younger than me." He spoke in a chirpy voice, like he was relieved at the change in subject.

"So Edwina is eighteen years old, you're sixteen years old, Katrina is fourteen years old and Hugh is twelve years old?" I checked.

"Yep."

“What’s Edwina studying?” I asked next.

“She’s studying Industrial Design. She’s the creative one in the family. My parents joke it’s why Edwina and Katrina fight all the time, creative differences.”

That made us both laugh.

“Er, Kevin, can I ask you a question about your parents?”

“Sure Mali," he shrugged.

“Are they both your biological parents?”

“Yeah!” he laughed at my question.

“So your Dad isn’t your step-father or anything?”

“No,” he chuckled, “are you asking because my Dad looks younger than my Mom?”

“Oui.”

“They’re the same age, they’ve been married for twenty-one years." He explained. "But Dad just looks younger, it’s a genetic trait.”

“Really?”

“That’s gonna happen to me too you know," he grinned.

“It is?”

“Yup," he said. “Eventually, I’ll look younger than my wife when I get married.”

“Why?”

“It’s just genetics," he shrugged. “Some men in my family can live extremely long lives.”

“Where I come from, women always outlive the men.”

“That’s good for me then.”

“It is?”

“I get to keep you for longer.”

Out of the blue, Kevin reached for me and in a single tug, I found myself sitting beside him with my back against the wall. At first I was afraid he was going to try something else, but he didn’t. We just sat there like that, with his arm around my waist and a soft smile painted on his face.

Sitting so closely together, enabled me to inhale the cologne that he was wearing. It was a musky scent, similar to the perfumed air of the woods from the pine trees. I liked it and I breathed it in, deeply.

“Mali?”

“Oui, er, I mean yes?”

“What do you want to do when you finish school?”

"I want to become a Healer, like my Grandmama." I answered. "I'll study Naturopathy then I could become her apprentice.”

“Just like our tribe’s Medicine Men.” Kevin nodded along.

“Medicine Men?”

“We have two Medicine Men, they’re not Doctors but they’re gifted healers. They can heal almost anything. But if it’s something they can’t help with, they send their patients to the hospital.”

“Oh," my eyebrows rose, impressed.

Just then we were interrupted when we heard the distant call, “Kevin?”

“Yeah Mom?” he shouted back, almost deafening me.

“Can you please set the table?” she requested.

Kevin grumbled, “That’s Katrina’s job.”

Reluctantly, he released my waist as he stood up from the bed. Next, he offered his hand which I took and in one easy tug he pulled me to my feet. I followed him out of his room and down the stairs.

In the kitchen, we found Katrina helping her mother prepare dinner. Mr Wisetail sat on a couch in the lounge area beside Hugh, helping him with his homework. That was until he caught the time on the antique, wooden cuckoo clock over the stone fireplace.

“Its time for your bath, Hugh," he prompted.

Hugh scowled but he obeyed his father’s command. He turned off his tablet and headed upstairs. His father watched him leave then he sat back into the couch. He turned on the Internet TV via the remote to watch the World Wide News on low volume.

“Mmm...!” Kevin’s mouth watered from the delicious smell coming from the stove. “What’s for dinner?”

“Beef Stroganoff," his mother answered.

“Yum!” his face lit up.

“Mom!” Katrina complained. “This steak is tough and the knife is blunt!”

“Fine, you and Kevin can swap tasks then.” Mrs. Wisetail said simply.

Katrina snatched the table cloth off Kevin as he took over cutting the meat on the large wooden chopping board. Next, I watched him easily slice the large portions of steak quickly and proficiently. Mrs Wisetail passed me a smile as she stood at the stove, stirring a large pot.

"He's a good cook," she told me. "Unlike his father, that is."

"What was that?" Mr Wisetail called from the couch.

"Kevin's a good cook, isn't he?" his wife replied.

"Oh yeah, he inherited it from his mother," he returned. "Mali, you're probably wondering why I'm not helping her cook instead. But this couch is as close to the kitchen as I'm allowed."

Then all four of the Wisetail's laughed good naturedly.

“Show off," Katrina taunted when she returned to the kitchen to fetch the cutlery.

Kevin's response was to playfully kick her bottom on her way back to the table.

“Would you like a hand?” I offered, as I hovered in the kitchen entryway.

“No, it’s cool," Katrina said. "It won't take me long."

“So Mali,” Mrs Wisetail spoke as she stirred, “Kevin says that you’re good at soccer. Did you used to be on a team back in Nara?”

"No, I just played with my cousins after school," I said modestly.

“Do you think you’ll try out for the school’s soccer team here?” she queried.

“Oh, I don’t know.” I felt my face heat up. “I don’t think I’m as good as the other players.”

“She is.” Kevin declared, pushing aside his completed task. “Anything else you want cut up, Mom?”

Mrs Wisetail handed him a bag full of mushrooms to slice for her, as she continued to chat.

“What else do you enjoy, Mali?” she asked.

“I like to play the flute," I said.

“Really?” she brightened. “Edwina used to play the clarinet, but I think she deliberately left her instrument behind when she went off to college. That’s a shame, as she had a good ear for music. Are you in a band?”

“In Nara I was in the school band, but I’m not sure about here…” I confessed, “…I may not be good enough.”

“Xenthe says she is and he’s in the same music class as her.” Kevin said.

“Well, if Xenthe thinks so, he’s probably right," her eyes widened, impressed. "That boy is a magician on the piano. He’s been asked to play at a couple of our tribal gatherings.”

“Xenthe is good.” I agreed. “But he may be kind about my skill though.”

"If Xenthe says you’re good then you’re good." Kevin stated. "If he didn’t think so, he wouldn’t say it.”

Katrina came to stand beside me after she'd finished her task to join the conversation.

"That's true, he doesn't exaggerate and he can be pretty blunt. Remember when Edwina wore that tight top with the low neckline? He asked her if she was advertising if it was hunting season and she was the target."

Then the three Wisetail's all chuckled at the memory, leaving me feeling a little lost.

"Kevin, you can tip those beef strips and mushrooms into the pot, please." Mrs Wisetail stood back from the stove.

*****

Thirty minutes later, dinner was served and we all sat down at the table to eat. I sat beside Kevin as a freshly showered Hugh in his pyjamas sat beside Katrina, opposite to us. Mr and Mrs Wisetail sat at either ends of the table as the heads of the family.

Creamy beef stroganoff, sitting on steamed rice, wafted up our noses and taunted our senses. I observed Kevin and his father had the most food, their servings were piled so high, it could have fed two men a plate! But soon everyone was merrily eating away, especially Kevin and Mr Wisetail who attacked their food as if they were ravenous.

Kevin spoke in between mouthfuls, “Mmm… good Beef Stroganoff, Mom.”

“So Mali,” Mr Wisetail paused in his eating long enough to speak, “Kevin said your parents are divorced?” I nodded as I finished my mouthful which gave him time to ask his next question. “And you moved here with your mother, who works at the new hydro power plant?” I nodded again when he continued. “Where’s your father and what does he do?”

“Er, Papa moved back to France. I don’t know whereabouts exactly, as the divorce was finalized just over a month ago. He’s an aeronautical engineer, who helps design planes and shuttles.”

“You don’t know where your Dad is?” Hugh asked incredulous, when Katrina whacked him on the arm once more, making him cry out in pain. “Oow! What did I do now? Mom! Tell Katrina to stop hitting me!”

For the briefest moment, I caught the murderous looks on Mr Wisetail's and Kevin's faces. However, they both took a deep breath and their angry expressions melted away. I sensed their dissatisfaction didn't come from Hugh but what I'd told them about my father, like he'd committed a grave crime.

“Mali, tell me more about your family…” Mr Wisetail went on, “…have you always lived in Nara?”

“Oui, with my mother's family," I nodded. "But we often vacationed in France to see my father's parents."

“Mali’s grandmother is a Healer.” Kevin chimed in. “Like our Medicine Man.”

“Ah, I see," he looked like he understood something. “I expect then with her ability to heal people, she was probably gifted in spiritual areas as well.”

Surprised, I accidentally dropped my fork onto the table, spilling some sauce onto the white table cloth.

How would he know this? My Grandmamma could be called a ‘Witch Doctor’ by people who didn’t understand. She was known for not only accurately diagnosing people, but occasionally she was asked to treat a whole manner of things, such as sick animals or clearing houses of negative energies.

“Does your grandmother have ESP?” Hugh asked. “Does that mean so do you? Because I heard Kevin tell Dad that you have an… OOW!”

Suddenly the table jolted as at the same time he cried out in pain.

“Mom! Kevin kicked me!” He whined. “My leg! My leg!”

Next, we saw Hugh curl up into a ball on his chair as he rubbed his injury.

“Kevin, mind your strength.” Mrs Wisetail said quietly.

“Yes Mom," he answered, as he glared at his little brother.

“I say we put arsenic in his food.” Katrina said. “That will shut up Hugh permanently.”

“As well as kill your little brother.” Mr Wisetail passed her an unhappy look.

“There are always casualties in war," she shrugged.

For some reason that made Mrs Wisetail’s face fall, which made Mr Wisetail look on in concern. We watched her struggle to regain her composure, but her watery eyes gave away her distress. Then she couldn't hold it in any longer and stood up from her seat.

“Excuse me," she said and left the table.

Our eyes followed her from the room as she hurried up the stairs and then we heard a door close.

Now Mr Wisetail stood up as he followed his wife's retreat to try to ease her suffering.

“Excuse us Mali, we’ll be right back," he said before he headed upstairs.

What just happened? I thought this was a typical family dinner, with typical sibling rivalry. Did this somehow remind her of her eldest son’s death?

Katrina looked wrought with guilt and Hugh looked like he was gloating.

“Good one, Katrina," he goaded. “Are you going to joke about Kevin dying one day too?”

She ignored him as she spoke to her older brother, “Kevin I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to.”

“Yeah, I know you didn’t," he gave her a rueful look.

“Our older brother Kurt died.” Hugh proclaimed.

“Oui, I was told.” I said softly.

“What did you say?” he gave a funny look.

“She said ‘yes’ in French.” Katrina rolled her eyes.

“Do you speak French?” he asked.

“Well her Dad happens to be French!” Katrina cried out in an exasperated voice. "Go out and buy a clue, Hugh!"

“How come you don’t know where your Dad is?” Hugh demanded.

“Do you want me to kick your other leg?” Kevin threatened.

His eyes widened in fear of his older brother’s strength and he moved his seat back from the table.

“My father is French.” I educated. “It’s also the main language in my country.”

“Really, why?” Hugh wondered.

“Why does your country speak English?” I hit back.

“Because that’s what everybody speaks," he shrugged.

“Not everybody.” I pointed out.

“We know a second language, Dad's teaching us Lokoti.” He boasted. “That’s our REAL language, because we’re not English.”

Kevin and Katrina snickered which seemed to encourage him.

He looked to Kevin. “You look like you could be English, because you have the whitest skin out of all of us. It’s weird because you’re a Lokoti Wer…OOW!”

Hugh howled in pain, now nursing two sore legs.

Katrina said dryly, “He’s a slow learner, isn’t he?”

Kevin’s a Lokoti what? I looked his way in curiosity, wondering what Hugh was about to say. When Kevin noticed this, he looked down at his plate as he recommenced eating.

“So, tell us about your grandmother.” Katrina requested.

I felt awkward, as I sensed there were things in this family that they didn’t want to discuss with a stranger at their table. Ironically, it was how I felt about my grandmother. I knew she wouldn't want me to discuss our abilities to anybody and everybody.

“Um, she’s a Healer.” I spoke in a rushed manner. “She grows her own ingredients for her herbal remedies. I used to help her in her garden.”

“Does your grandmother have an aura too?” Hugh looked on me strangely.

An aura…?

“Hugh would you shut up?!” Katrina lost her patience. “What’s with you tonight? It’s like you’ve got verbal diarrhoea!”

“Diarrhoea! Diarrhoea!” he started to chant.

“Hugh, you’re excused from the table.” Kevin put down his fork like he was laying down the law.

He stopped chanting to glare back at his older brother, “You can’t make me leave the table!”

“Oh can’t I?” Kevin raised his eyebrows.

“I mean, you’re not allowed to!” he back-pedalled.

“I am the oldest.” Kevin said calmly.

“No you’re not, Kurt was! Now Edwina is and she’s not here!” he refused.

“Exactly! Edwina’s NOT here so Kevin’s the eldest.” Katrina sided with Kevin.

However, their arguing was interrupted when we heard a door upstairs open and two sets of footsteps approach. Mr and Mrs Wisetail reappeared as they came downstairs and took their seats at the table. Kevin turned to his solemn looking father and spoke with a voice full of authority:

“I’ve excused Hugh from the table.”

Mr Wisetail looked from his older son to his youngest as his eyes narrowed.

“But Mom!” Hugh objected. “Kevin can’t dismiss me! Edwina’s older than him!”

“Hugh!” Mr Wisetail’s voice sounded deep and rumbling like thunder.

Without further ado, he tearfully stormed away from the table and up to his room via the stairs.

“Are you OK, Mom?” Katrina asked worriedly.

We could all see her eyes were red from crying but she answered in a breezy manner.

“Yes thanks sweetheart,” she picked up her fork again. “I’m sure your family dinners are much more peaceful than this, eh Mali?”

Mama’s and Papa’s arguments over meal times or any other time, were still ringing in my ears. Then Grandmamma would yell over the pair of them for fighting in front of me, their child. The only moments of peace I had were when my parents weren’t together.

“This is nice beef stroganoff, Mrs Wisetail.” I changed the subject, as I dug into my food with my fork.

*****

After dinner, Kevin and Katrina cleared the table and stacked the dirty dishes into the dishwasher again. I offered to help but I was reassured that the two could handle it. Once Katrina removed the tablecloth and left it in the laundry to be cleaned, I took out my laptop to start on my homework. I was soon joined by the brother and sister after they'd tidied the kitchen.

We three sat at the table with our laptops open, individually working on our assignments. We worked in an amiable silence as we studied hard. This was observed by Mrs Wisetail who hovered by the kitchen entryway, watching us.

“Hugh, did you want to fetch your homework and work with your brother and sister?” she prompted.

Their youngest said petulantly, “Dad’s already helped me with it.”

Instead, he sat on a lounge playing with his electronic comic book.

Eventually, Mrs Wisetail stopped her anxious hovering to sit by her husband’s side on the second couch. The two talked quietly, with Mr Wisetail massaging his wife’s tense shoulders. A couple of times I glanced upwards, trying to inconspicuously watch the two. Kevin’s parents may look like a mismatched pair because of Mr Wisetail’s deceptively younger appearance, but by the way they acted it truly did speak of years of marriage.

Our reverie was interrupted at a quarter to nine, when the doorbell chimed.

Mr Wisetail jumped up first to answer it. He swung open the door and there stood my Mama. She looked tired and was wearing her work overalls, similar to her host still in his Park Ranger’s uniform.

He greeted warmly, “You must be Mrs Roanne, Mali’s mother.”

Kevin, Katrina and I also stood up, as did Mrs Wisetail who prompted Hugh to do the same.

“Call me Kita.” Mama shook his hand.

“We’re pleased to meet you, Kita.” Mrs Wisetail came forward to shake her hand next. “I’m Wendy and this is my husband, Walt. Come in, please.”

As Mama came into the house, Mrs Wisetail went into the kitchen to procure coffee and cake for everyone with Katrina following her to assist.

“Mrs Roanne, it’s nice to meet you! I’m Kevin! I'm in the same grade as your daughter!” He said exuberantly, as he came forward to shake her hand vigorously.

Mama’s eyes widened as she looked up and down at his tall stature, which she then noted was the same as his father.

“Bonjour Mama, comment allez-vous?” I kissed her on her cheek.

“Tired," she answered. “How was school?”

“Bien.” I shrugged.

“Kita, come and take a seat.” Mr Wisetail guided her into the lounge area.

Mama sat down on one of their couches and immediately let out a sigh of relief.

“A long day?” he asked sympathetically.

“Oui," she moaned.

“You work at the new hydro power plant, right?” he remembered.

“Oui, I mean yes," she answered.

“How’s that going?” he enquired.

I sat beside her with Kevin sitting beside me and Hugh sat on the opposite couch beside his father.

“Interesting," she put it diplomatically. “We're supposed to be coming online next month. But before we join the greater Alaskan grid, there’s still some bugs in the system to fix."

“Really?” he listened with interest. “What about the backup power supply from the solar generators?”

“They’re just useful during your warmer months.” Mama said. “Those systems aren’t viable in winter, with your shorter daylight hours.”

“Guilty.” Mr Wisetail chuckled in good humour.

At that moment, Mrs Wisetail along with Katrina, started carrying out slices of caramel mudcake on plates for everyone.

“Oh yum!" Kevin grinned. "Thanks Mom!”

“Thank you, Wendy.” Mama smiled as she accepted a plate.

"Would you like coffee or tea with your cake, Kita?" Mrs Wisetail offered.

"Coffee, please," she replied. "White with two sugars."

Soon the three adults in the room were sipping coffee with their cake while the kids drank milk. Mrs Wisetail served the coffees as Katrina doled out the glasses of milk. Then she sat next to Hugh to eat and drink with us.

“Have you met the Sabre’s yet?” Mrs Wisetail asked Mama.

“Er, no," she passed me a funny look, probably wondering why the Wisetail’s would be asking when I had been discussing them that morning.

“Uncle Declan, that’s Lucia’s father who goes to school with Mali,” Mrs Wisetail brought her up to speed, “invited us to lunch at their house on Saturday. He asked me to issue the invitation to you and Mali as well.”

“Oh?” her eyes widened in surprise. “Well, I’ll check our schedules to see if we’re free.”

“Uncle Declan is a good cook.” Mr Wisetail promised. “He’s part Italian, so pasta dishes are his specialty.”

“You should come along, Kita," his wife urged. “Xenthe and his mother, Stella Creillaic will be there. I think you might know her from working at the plant?”

Mama brightened by the sound of this, “Oui, I met Stella today.”

“Mali, Lucia and I hang out with Xenthe.” Kevin said helpfully.

“Perhaps Mali and I are able to come?” she glanced my way.

I returned her enquiring look with an enthusiastic nod.

“Cool!” Kevin chuckled happily.

Then to Mama’s surprise, he stood up and politely began to collect everybody’s empty plates to take into the kitchen.

*****

After an hour, Mama and I departed the Wisetail’s house and the family followed us out onto the veranda, to wave their farewells.

Using the light from the front veranda, Mama and I navigated our way down the driveway to her parked hover-car on side of the road. After one final wave, with Kevin waving the most, Mama and I climbed into the vehicle. She immediately turned on the engine as we put on our seat belts.

“What did you think of the Wisetail's?” I asked.

“They seem like nice people," she said simply.

Just then the Internet Radio switched itself on, indicating she'd listened to it as she drove here.

“Tonight’s lead story; Prague Police are baffled by the incident that’s claimed another life. Earlier today, witnesses discovered the charred remains of a body on a station platform in the city’s subway. Evidence indicates that the body had been burned with a laser rifle, however, the victim had been killed in another location. Forensics have released to the World Wide Media that before the body was burned, it had been drained of blood -”

Mama turned off the radio and changed the subject, “Are you tired?”

“A little," I yawned back.

“As soon as we get home, go straight to bed.” She ordered. “Have you done your homework?”

“Oui, we did it after dinner.” I said tiredly.

“Très bien," she patted my leg before she returned her attention to the road.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Circulators, Calculators and the Circulate, SSIT, as well as the different breeds of werewolves, separate species of vampires and human/animal shape shifters: are copyright protected under the Circulate Series by K.R. Smith © 2005

Circulate © K.R. Smith, 1st ed. 2005 and 2nd ed. 2010
ISBN: 978-0-646-53776-4
Scent © K.R. Smith, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-646-53730-6
Sororate © K.R. Smith, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-646-57911-5
SSIT Reports on the
Different Breeds of Werewolf, Separate Species of Vampire and
Human/ Animal Shape Shifters © K.R. Smith 2011
ISBN: 987-0-646-56328-2

The above novels are registered in the Cataloguing-in-Publication (CiP) under the Australian Copyright Act 1968.

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