Mali's First Date With Kevin
|28th September 2380
I felt terrible, my nose was blocked and yet it wouldn’t stop running. It looked red and swollen from being blown constantly. I felt hot and cold, switching between the two frequently. I knew it was because of the fever, which the medication was keeping low but still, it made me feel vague and light headed.
I drank down my third glass of orange juice with some more flu medication and vitamins.
“It’s only five degrees Celsius tonight, Mali.” Mama frowned, concerned. “The cold weather will make you feel worse. I don’t think you should go out tonight.”
Although I was feeling a little dizzy, her suggestion at cancelling my first date with Kevin still brought out an intense fear.
“No!” I squealed. “No, Mama! I’m feeling better, really I am.”
She gave me one of her ‘looks’ which was a mask of disbelief.
“I feel better, the medication is working," I tried to lie. “Excuse moi, s’il vous plait, I have to finish getting ready.”
I left the kitchen, walked through the living area and slowly went up the stairs to use the bathroom.
Mon Dieu, the exercise gave me a head-spin. I had to grip onto the banister extra hard so I wouldn’t fall backwards. I managed to reach the top, making a rasping sound as I went, as I stumbled into the bathroom.
I did my best to make myself look as presentable as possible. I rearranged my hair so instead of wearing it in its traditional ponytail, I wore it in a French Roll with lots of little ringlets hanging down. I also smothered my face in moisturizer to ease my red-raw skin around my nose, before I put some foundation on. So I didn’t look washed-out, I applied eye-liner and a red lip-gloss. Afterwards, I scrutinized my appearance in the mirror.
Hmm, I look a little more human, but not that much better. I hope Kevin doesn’t notice. He can come across as a little slow sometimes, but he's a lot more observant than people give him credit for.
I contemplated Mama's suggestion that I call and cancel, but Kevin has been sending me text messages all day, telling me how he couldn’t wait to see me tonight. I didn't want to disappoint him but then again, I also don’t want to frighten him away, by looking as horrible as I feel. Merde! What do I do?
“Mali!” Mama called out from downstairs. “If you want me to drop you off at the Cinemax on my way to work, I’m leaving now.”
“Oui, I’m coming!”
Hurriedly, I left the bathroom and rushed into my bedroom to grab my handbag. I was feeling a mixture of anxiety and excitement. This is it, this is my first official date with Kevin! I skipped down the stairs then I accompanied Mama into the garage where she unlocked the hover-car.
"I thought it was the custom in America to pick the girl up for a date," she remarked.
"I think it is, but Kevin had a family emergency and is running late," I explained. "That's why he recommended that he meet me at the cinema so we don't miss the movie."
“And he will drive you home, afterwards?” Mama confirmed.
“Um, I don’t know.” I shrugged as we climbed into the vehicle. "I guess after the movie."
“I'd like you to be home by midnight.”
“I’ll call the house's video-phone at midnight to make sure you’re home," she warned.
“If anything happens and Kevin doesn’t drive you home afterwards, call me and I’ll leave work to come and pick you up.” Mama ordered.
“Mama,” I gave her a peculiar look. “Kevin has driven me home plenty of times and nothing has gone wrong.”
However, she didn’t look convinced. She powered up the hover-car as she simultaneously hit the remote for the garage door to open. The vehicle lifted up from the ground and then hovered out onto the communal driveway of our townhouse complex.
I don’t think Mama hates Kevin, I think she’s still stinging from the pain Papa caused her. Unfortunately, it may have traumatized Mama and turned her off men for life. She hasn’t been on a single date since her separation and then divorce.
Mama dropped me off out the front of the Cinemax on the busy main street, before gliding off for her night shift at the plant. Nervously, I walked through the automatic doors into the cinema's foyer as I straightened my clothes. Although I felt weak and light-headed from the flu, my nerves still managed to make my heart race.
Just then I walked into a fourteen year old boy who was with a group of his friends.
“Watch it!” the boy said annoyed.
“Pardon!” I quickly backed off, with my face reddening. “I didn’t mean to -”
But he'd already walked off, through the crowded foyer, not caring to hear the rest of my apology.
Merde, this place is packed! How am I going to find Kevin? Saturday night at the movies was a popular spot for those young and old.
Did I just hear Kevin's voice?
I looked about, almost wildly, as I tried to spot Kevin’s head above the crowd.
Unfortunately, I spotted someone else first, or they spotted me, and I saw Melanie and her friend Chantelle standing with two of their cohorts. They were giggling at me as well as whispering between themselves, with their perfectly groomed hair and their perfectly made-up faces. I felt like an old mule beside elegant race horses, when compared to their appearance of cold perfection.
“You look lost, Mali.” Chantelle sung.
“No, she always looks that way.” Melanie tittered.
“Are you looking for your friends, Mali?” Chantelle continued.
“You might be looking for some time then.” Melanie taunted.
Then all four of them broke into a shrill laugh that reminded me of a pack of hyenas back home.
Then they stopped giggling with their eyes widening when they saw who was making their way through the crowded foyer to join me.
“Hi!” Kevin beamed at first but then his smile faltered. “Are you alright?”
Oh no, I don’t look that bad, do I?
“Um, I have the flu,” I felt my face heat up in embarrassment.
Immediately, Kevin looked anxious, “Are you OK? Can I get you anything?”
Oh that is so sweet! I felt my heart expand from his sympathy. He is so considerate.
“Thanks for your offer -” I began but then I was interrupted.
“Kevin! Not so fast! I nearly lost you!” an angry voice sounded. Next, Hugh appeared beside Kevin and he did not look happy. “Hi Mali.”
I looked on his arrival in surprise before I turned this expression towards Kevin. He brought his little brother on our first date? Maybe I misinterpreted something. I thought dates were supposed to be just two people.
“Oh yeah, Hugh had to come along tonight." Kevin looked embarrassed. “I sent you a text message before we left home. Did you get it?”
“Oh,” I quickly scrambled for my phone and I pulled it out of my bag to check.
I did get a message, but somehow I didn’t hear it. I think it’s because my ears feel blocked along with my nose. Plus it felt like my head was full of cotton wool, so I wasn't functioning properly.
HI MALI, SOMETHING HAS COME UP. I STILL WANT 2 MAKE 2NITE BUT IF IT’S OK, I HAVE TO BRING HUGH – Kevin.
“Oh, of course. Hi Hugh, how are you?” Then I turned to Kevin, “I’m sorry I didn’t get your message earlier. I didn’t hear my phone, my ears feel blocked along with my sinuses.”
“Really?” Kevin's eyes widened with concern. “Can I do anything? Can I get you anything? Um, would you like an orange juice or something?”
Hugh looked at his older brother incredulous at his behaviour and he even rolled his eyes.
“I’m OK, thank you.” I smiled at his attentiveness.
“Kevin!” his little brother complained. “You said you’d get me a popcorn and a soda! The movie’s going to start soon! We’re gonna miss the previews!”
“I need to buy my ticket.” I remembered.
“I got it.” Kevin held up three tickets in his left hand before he put them back in his pocket. “C’mon, let’s get this popcorn then we’ll find our seats.”
Next, he took my hand and led the way through the crowd, clearing the path for me, with a restless Hugh walking out in front. The whole time, Melanie and Chantelle had watched and listened, along with their two friends. They were left behind gaping at the stud who chose a mule instead of a race horse.
In the self-service candy shop, Hugh helped himself to picking the biggest popcorn and then pouring the biggest cup of soda, as Kevin and I stood back.
“Sorry about Hugh.” Kevin said with a pink face. “My parent’s didn’t want to leave Hugh home alone and I didn’t want to cancel tonight. So I hope you don’t mind…?”
“No, I don't mind.” I shook my head, as I sensed a deeper concern behind his words. “What happened at home? Is everything OK?”
“Ah, no.” Kevin turned serious. “My Granny is dying. Mom, Dad and Katrina are with her. Hugh didn’t want to go, as he’s scared of death since one of our elderly Aunts died.”
Merde! How terrible! Poor Hugh! Poor Kevin!
“Kevin, I’m so sorry." I rushed out. "If you want to cancel our date tonight, I’ll understand.”
“No!” he said quickly. “No, I don’t want to cancel. I’ll go and see her again tonight, after our date. I was with her all afternoon anyways. She wanted me to go out tonight. She even joked, 'I promise I won’t die while you’re away', and Granny always keeps her promises.”
“Oh Kevin, I’m so sorry to hear about your Granny.”
Then I inwardly kicked myself for not thinking of anything else to say.
“She’s old and her time has come. She's my Dad's mother and she’s looking forward to being reunited with Gramps in the next life.” Kevin sighed.
At that moment we were interrupted by Hugh coming over and dumping his popcorn and soda into Kevin’s hands.
“I’m gonna get some candy!” Hugh declared then he turned right around and went to the self-service candy slots to create his own mixed bag of sweets.
I watched him go before I asked, “Why is Hugh scared of death?”
Kevin hesitated before he answered, “Great Aunt Beth died suddenly of a stroke and Hugh found her on the bathroom floor when he was seven years old. Because she hit her head when she fell, she had blood all down her face. It scared the living daylights out of Hugh, who ran screaming for our parents.”
Mon Dieu, that would scare me too.
“Oh I’m sorry, Kevin.” I said sadly, but then I kicked myself again. Oh, why can’t I think of anything meaningful to say?
“Yeah…” Kevin sighed again. “…Hugh had nightmares for months. He still occasionally has them. He and Granny were pretty close, we all were I guess, but as soon as she became sick, Hugh refused to visit her anymore. I guess he’s scared of seeing Granny the way he saw Great Aunt Beth.”
“He doesn’t want his last memories of her to be tainted,” I empathized.
“I guess.” Kevin shrugged. “But eventually he’s going to have to realize that death is a natural part of life.”
“It’s a part of the cycle of life.” I agreed. “Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. But energy doesn’t cease to exist, it simply changes form.”
Kevin looked on impressed, “Yeah Mali, that’s exactly it.”
“As you know, my Grandmama is a Healer and sometimes I'd go with her when she paid house calls, since she minded me when my parents were working. I saw a couple of people who'd died, they always looked peaceful. Especially by the way their families were around them when they went. It was special and they went into the next life with love.” I spoke, as I watched Hugh.
Right now, he really did look like the embodiment of the saying, ‘like a kid in a candy shop’, as he delighted in picking and choosing his mixed bag of lollies.
“Really?” Kevin listened.
“When Grandpapa passed away, I felt sad that he'd no longer be here to cut my fruit or play games with me. But Grandmama, Mama and I made sure that he wasn’t alone when he went. We wanted him to take our love with him.”
“Yup, that’s what we’re doing for Granny.” Kevin nodded along.
Then he looked over to see what his little brother was doing. “Hugh, c’mon! There's no way you can fit anymore candy into that bag.”
Hugh objected, “But there’s an inch left at the top!”
“Mali and I are going into the cinema now and I have your ticket. So you can either stay in the candy shop or you can come and watch the movie with us.” Kevin took charge.
“Aw, Kevin!” he complained before he reluctantly trailed behind us.
At the self-service check-out, Kevin scanned the popcorn, soda and bag of candy before swiping his credit card to pay for it all.
Kevin carried the large bucket of popcorn and I carried the huge cup of soda for Hugh, who trailed behind us, already guzzling down the lollies. Kevin presented our tickets which were scanned and we proceeded to the biggest cinema in the complex. When we took our seats, Hugh cheekily tried to take the middle seat between Kevin and I.
“Move!” Kevin growled at his little brother.
It was an impressive growl too, it sounded like it could have come from a lion or some other beast. Hugh snickered as he switched seats with Kevin, so he was sitting in the middle instead. Once we were settled, Kevin minded the popcorn to share amongst the three of us and I passed Hugh his soda.
I looked on Hugh in amusement as I watched him happily munch away. He would take one handful of popcorn and then his next handful would be of lollies. He appeared quite happy with his snacks.
“Mali?” his older brother angled the bucket of popcorn my way.
"Merci," I smiled at Kevin as I took a handful of the buttery treat.
Within minutes the lights dimmed and the previews started. I loved watching the previews as much as I love watching the feature. I've always found seeing the coming attractions exciting.
“Ooh, I want to see that one!” I accidentally squealed after the second preview.
“Yeah, that would be awesome!” Kevin exuberantly agreed.
We earned some funny looks from the people sitting nearby, but I didn’t care. I liked how Kevin could usually make me feel comfortable in his company, even if I still felt shy now and then because of my attraction for him. I liked how he made me feel special.
When the movie started, I noticed the couple who were sitting in front of us. I was half watching the screen and half watching the body language between the guy and the girl who looked a little older than us. The guy put his arm around the girl’s shoulders, and she comfortably snuggled into his side.
Hmm, I wonder if that will be Kevin and I one day? That would be nice. I wonder if Kevin would have put his arm around me tonight, if Hugh wasn’t here?
As the movie progressed, so did the guy. Halfway through the film, the guy started to make out with the girl and it turned me off. He looked like he could have been suffocating her by the way his mouth completely smothered hers.
Nervously, I shifted in my seat and I tried hard to look at the screen and not at the couple. I hoped Hugh hadn’t noticed what was going on but then I discovered he had. So did the whole cinema, actually.
“Eugh, gross! I don’t know what’s more disgusting! The monsters in this movie eating people's faces, or that guy eating that girl's face!”
Hugh’s indignation was so loud, the whole audience heard him. Everyone in the cinema burst out laughing, including me and Kevin. This successfully interrupted the guy’s groping as the girl sunk back into her seat, embarrassed.
“Shut up, kid!” the guy turned around, angry. “Look somewhere else you little pervert!”
And then something odd happened, I don't know if it was the light from the screen reflecting off Kevin's eyes, but for a moment they looked like they were glowing red. The effect was quite unnerving and it even made the guy blanch. Hugh sat back and smiled smugly for having the scary looking older brother.
“We all came here to watch the movie, so let’s all do that, shall we?” Kevin growled a second time.
Quickly, the guy turned around and faced the front, keeping his hands off his girlfriend from then on.
As the film drew to a close, I felt wistful. Although I didn’t want Kevin to grope me like that disgusting guy did to his girlfriend, I wondered what else might have happened. Would we have held hands, at least? Maybe he might have if he didn't have to nurse that large bucket of popcorn in his lap.
I snuck another look in his direction and found him looking my way. Our brown eyes met and held for a moment and then his face broke into a grin. I smiled back before taking another handful of popcorn and we returned our attention to the ending of the movie.
It was nine o'clock when we left the Cinemax and headed into the car park towards the Wisetail’s family hover-van.
Kevin looked at his watch, “Um, would you like to go and have coffee or something before I take you home?”
I started to open my mouth when Hugh jumped in, “Coffee? Yuck! Let’s have milkshakes!”
“Well, we can go to a café where Mali and I order coffees and you can have a milkshake, Hugh.” Kevin said, annoyed.
“And fries! I want fries!” his little brother demanded.
“No wonder Dad topped up my credit card for tonight, he knew you were a bottomless pit!” he shook his head at him.
Kevin used his remote to unlock the hover-van and immediately Hugh jumped into the passenger’s seat instead of the back seat. His older brother grabbed his coat and pulled him back out.
“Nice try, but that’s Mali’s seat.” Kevin glared.
Hugh chuckled before he threw himself dramatically onto the back seat and he started to make horrible noises like there was a monster attacking him.
“Kevin! Kevin! My stomach is gonna explode!” Hugh cried out. "I think it's one of the monsters in that movie!"
“No wonder with the amount of junk you jammed into your big mouth.” Kevin said coolly, as he sat down in the driver’s seat and shut his door.
Just as he powered up the hover-van and it lifted up from the ground, Hugh let out this really loud burp.
“Hugh!” Kevin snarled at his little brother, as his face reddened.
“It wasn’t me! It was the monster!” Hugh joked.
Accidentally, I giggled as I thought this situation was funny. Kevin was trying hard to make this feel like a date and Hugh was trying hard to ruin the evening. Since I was an only child, it always made me laugh to see sibling rivalry.
Kevin let out a snicker when he heard me laugh before he turned his concentration on steering the hover-van through the traffic.
Ten minutes later, the three of us sat at a table in the centrally-heated Bakery Café, ordering our beverages.
“Why come to the Bakery Café?" Hugh complained. “I can’t get fries here.”
“Because they have better coffee here,” Kevin glared at him to shut up.
“Coffee? You’re actually gonna drink coffee? But you hate the stuff!” he declared, before he yelped out, "Ouch!" from being kicked under the table.
I knew it was Kevin who'd kicked him and I emitted another giggle.
“Can we get two lattes, please?” Kevin asked the waitress.
“Sure," the waitress put this into her electronic pad.
“I’ll have a chocolate milkshake and a sausage roll and the chocolate caramel slice.” Hugh told the waitress.
“OK,” she nodded along.
“Oh, would you like something to eat, Mali?” Kevin offered, but I smilingly shook my head. So he ordered something for himself instead, “Can I please get the chocolate caramel slice too?”
“You sure can," the young waitress smiled in a flirty manner at Kevin. But he didn’t notice as his eyes turned towards his date.
“Actually, can I please have a cup of honey and lemon tea instead of a latte?” I croaked out before the waitress moved on.
"No problem," she changed the order on her pad.
Kevin looked my way sympathetically, “Did you want to skip drinks and go straight home?”
I smiled at his concern and shook my head because I didn't want to end the date early.
“But what about the food we just ordered?” Hugh complained.
“Shut up, Hugh!” his older brother looked like he was running out of patience. “Mali’s sick so if she wants to go home and rest then she can go home and rest!”
“Sorry," Hugh's face fell.
An uncomfortable silence fell on the table as Hugh looked awkward because he was conscious of being the ‘third wheel’ on our first date. Kevin looked guiltily on his little brother, probably chastising himself for letting Hugh get the better of him. And I had trouble talking with my sore throat but I thought I should try.
“Did you like the movie, Hugh?” I croaked a second time.
The boy simply shrugged as he stared down at his lap.
“Hugh's into superhero movies and comics," Kevin said. “Aren’t you, Hugh?”
Dejectedly, he stared down at the table as he fidgeted with his hands.
“Really?” I tried to move the conversation along in a hoarse voice. “How did you come to like those sorts of stories?”
Hugh shrugged again as his eyes remained downcast.
“I like the ‘X-Men’.” Kevin said. “I like the idea of how some people are just born different because of their genes.”
“You would,” Hugh snuck a small smile his way.
Kevin gave him a playful nudge, “It could happen to you too, you know.”
Hugh gave a sheepish grin, “Yeah, I know.”
I realized that the brothers were no longer talking about superheroes but something else.
“What could happen?” I wondered.
Both brothers looked my way as they automatically replied with, “Nothing.”
“Kev,” his little brother began, “could you take me hunting with you one day?”
“No," he said firmly.
“Aw, why not?" Hugh whined. "You’re always hunting with Xenthe or Dad or Uncle Declan, why can’t I come too?”
“Because you know why, Hugh." Kevin frowned. "It’s dangerous.”
“But what if I promise to stay out of the way?”
“What if I watch from a distance?”
“What if I stand really far away -” Hugh tried again.
“No Hugh, so just drop it." He said, irritable. "We shouldn’t even be talking about this off Tribal Lands.”
Next, Kevin looked about the cafe to check if anybody was listening in.
“What sort of hunting is it?” I queried.
“Bear or caribou or moose," Kevin said quietly. "Big game, so it’s dangerous for those who are unskilled.”
"But -" Hugh tried to debate but his older put a stop to it.
“Let’s change the subject.” Kevin shifted in his seat as he looked around at the other tables. “How did you like the movie, Mali?”
I sensed Hugh knew the secret that Kevin, Lucia, Xenthe and even the whole tribe were hiding. I also sensed that Hugh wasn't supposed to talk about it in Alma, where outsiders could hear. Then it occurred to me how closed-knit the Lokoti were and as they colluded in this secret, it seemed more and more like a conspiracy.
“Mali, are you OK?” I turned my head sharply from the sound of Kevin’s voice. “You looked a million miles away.”
“I was just thinking.” I shrugged.
Just then the waitress returned with our food and drinks and she gave another flirty smile to Kevin.
"If you'd like anything else, just let me know."
As she walked away, the boys tucked into their treats and I picked up my cup of tea.
"Oui, I enjoyed the movie," I picked up our prior conversation. "It was very gory though, I hope Hugh doesn't have nightmares from it."
"Because of those monsters? Hardly!" the young boy rolled his eyes. "I've seen all of the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movies and it didn't bother me."
"Really, what sort of movies are those?" I asked.
"Horror movies," he said simply.
"Do you like horror movies?" I asked, surprised.
"They're OK, but I prefer superhero ones," he spoke with a mouthful of sausage roll. "Especially the movies where all the superheroes are together, like the 'Avenger' films."
"Katrina is the horror movie buff," Kevin filled me in. "She was the one watching the movies to review them on her blog. Hugh ended up watching the movies with her because he was bored."
"She was hogging the large-screen Internet TV in the living room," Hugh said sulkily. "So there was nothing else to watch except what she'd put on."
I nodded along as I sipped my honey and lemon tea, relishing how the concoction soothed my sore throat and even cleared my sinuses a little.
"Would you like some of my chocolate caramel slice? It's very nice," Kevin offered.
I smilingly shook my head because I was happy with my cup of tea. But the drink didn't last long in my hands. The next thing I knew, I was nursing an empty cup so I put it down on the table.
"Did it help you feel better?" my date checked.
"I feel fine," I lied, but he didn’t look convinced.
“Mali, you’re looking paler by the minute.” Kevin frowned. “C’mon, I’m gonna take you home.”
With this, he stood up and grabbed our jackets, holding out mine first. But I felt bad when I saw that he'd hardly touched his coffee. Hugh had just finished off the sausage roll but he hadn't started on his chocolate caramel slice yet.
“Don’t you want to finish your drink?” I asked.
“Kevin doesn’t like coffee.” Hugh sniggered. “He only bought it because he probably wanted to appear mature or something.”
Oh my, Kevin, the boy the other girls were jealous of me for dating, was trying to impress ME?
“Hugh!” Kevin growled again as he whacked his brother on the arm.
"What about my slice?" his little brother complained.
"We'll put it in a take-away container so you can bring it home."
Hugh picked up the plate with the slice and then he and I followed Kevin over to the register to pay.
I reached into my handbag for my purse when Kevin put his larger hand over my smaller one, to stop me.
“No, let me," he requested.
“But you paid for the movie, the soda, the popcorn and the sweets.” I objected.
“Nah, let me.” Kevin said firmly then he handed over his credit card to the waitress instead.
The waitress smiled, or more like leered at him, “It’s good to see chivalry isn’t dead yet.”
It was like I was invisible to her, she'd been eyeing Kevin the whole time we'd been here.
He didn’t say anything back, he simply swiped his card before he put it and his wallet back into his pocket.
"Here's a paper bag to put the slice in," she handed it over to Hugh.
It was just before ten o'clock when the Wisetail’s hover-van powered down outside my townhouse complex.
Just as I turned around in my seat to thank him for the evening, Kevin spoke.
“I’ll walk you to your door."
We both climbed out into the cold night air and then we both got a surprise when a third door opened and even Hugh got out.
“No Hugh, you wait in the car.” Kevin ordered.
“But I wanna see Mali’s house.” Hugh pouted.
“You can see it another day.” Kevin said.
“Bye Hugh.” I gave him a wave.
“See ya Mali.” Hugh said sulkily, as he took the front seat now that I was going.
Kevin took hold of my hand as he walked me up the driveway to my front door.
“Um, thanks for making Hugh feel included, tonight.” Kevin began.
“I like him, he’s funny.”
“And thanks for coming tonight, being sick and all," he gave me a small smile.
“I was looking forward to it.” I told him.
We stopped in front of my doorstep and turned towards each other.
“I’m sorry I looked sick on our first date…” I began, “…I don’t often get the flu, or I didn’t back in Nara.”
“No, don’t apologise, Mali!” Kevin rushed out. “I just wish I could do something to make you all better.”
“But I had a really good time tonight.” I smiled.
“I had an awesome time!” he cried out with characteristic exuberance. “We have to go see that other movie when it comes out.”
“That would be nice,” I admitted, remembering the preview.
Then I didn’t know what else to say and I guess neither did Kevin as we both turned quiet. He was still holding onto my hand and he used this by taking another step closer as he bent his head lower towards mine. Oh my, is this going to be our first kiss? My heart instantly started to pound inside my chest and my skin turned hot from nerves instead of a temperature.
However, just as his lips gently began to press on mine, I ruined the moment!
I jolted backwards from the loud sneeze as Kevin wiped part of his face.
Merde, I sneezed on him! How embarrassing! I'm never going to live this down!
“I’m sorry!” I cried out in alarm. “I’m so sorry!”
“It’s OK," he chuckled.
“But you could get sick.” I said, worriedly.
“I haven’t had the flu since I was ten years old and I doubt I’ll ever get it again.” Kevin said confidently.
I gave a funny look as I wondered how this was so? But before I got a chance to ask, Kevin stepped up closely again. He wrapped his arms about my waist and he ran his nose lightly across the skin on my cheek.
Bon, this was nice! I remained still as I felt his lips graze my chin and then his mouth settled over mine. I felt my insides melt like butter as his lips parted mine. I lost all track of time as we remained like that with our lips locked together. The longer we kissed, the more I leaned into his body and the tighter his hold became.
Eventually we parted and my lips missed his the moment he moved away. Next, he placed a kiss on my cheek and then he moved his mouth over my ear. He kissed it softly before he whispered into it.
“I’ll be thinking about our kiss all night.”
Then Kevin took a step back, simultaneously releasing my waist as he went.
Silently, he watched me pull my electronic key out of my bag, put it into the automatic lock and the front door swung open. Like I was in a spell, feeling vague from the flu and experiencing the fluttery feelings inside my stomach, I stepped inside. But before I closed the door behind me, I turned to give Kevin one last look.
“G’night Mali," he smiled then he turned and walked off down the driveway.
When I could no longer see him, I shut my door and locked it again before I headed upstairs to shower and go to bed.
I was in bed before eleven o'clock and after taking another dose of the flu medication, it didn't take long for me to fall asleep.
However, I slept fitfully, tossing and turning and unable to find a comfortable position. I think it was because of the flu making me ache all over. Also, sleeping with a runny nose didn't help. I ended up shoving tissues up my nostrils to stop the mucus from trickling onto my pillowcase.
I had a dream where I was lost inside the Lokoti National Park and a storm came upon me.
Generally speaking, I hate dreams where a storm intrudes, complete with lightening and thunder. When I was younger, storms used to scare me. They don't frighten me as much anymore, but when I dream about them, I know they're an omen, a warning of something bad to come.
I was standing in the woods, surrounded by pine trees and I didn't know which direction to walk in to go to Kevin's house. Lightening flashed followed by thunder rumbling after it. I sensed I was in danger and I wanted Kevin by my side.
Then in the darkness, I spotted a pair of glowing red eyes. I got the impression they were watching me. I found them unnerving because they looked like they belonged to a demon.
Next, another pair of glowing eyes, but this time they were green, appeared beside the red ones. Then glowing white eyes lit up beside the glowing green ones. All three pairs of eyes were watching me and when there was another lightening strike, I found they belonged to three tall humanoid shapes. I couldn't see the owners of the eyes clearly, with or without the lightening.
Frightened, I turned around and ran away through the dark woods, calling for help as I ran. I ran as fast as I could, puffing, as I pelted along the forest floor, dodging tree and bush and fern alike. What spurred me on was that every time I looked behind me, the three pairs of glowing eyes were still there. It was like they were chasing me which scared me even more.
Out of the blue, I heard my mobile phone ringing. It echoed through the forest and I tried to run to the source of the noise. The ringing got louder when all of a sudden the woods disappeared and I found myself lying in bed, at home. It was still dark and I reached over to turn on my lamp, when I froze.
The owners of the glowing red, green and white eyes were standing in my bedroom, looming over my bed.
*Mali, answer your phone!*
Suddenly, my eyes snapped open and I sat upright in bed before switching on my bedside lamp. For a second or two, I wasn't sure if I was awake or asleep. However, the glowing eyes were gone and my bedroom in the dim light looked back to normal.
My attention was taken away by the ringing noise and I realized I'd left my mobile phone in my handbag. I had to get out of bed and go retrieve it, where it was sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. I hit the touch-screen to accept the call when I heard an angry voice which belonged to Mama.
"Mali, where are you?!"
"I'm at home, Mama."
"I rang the house's video-phone five times!"
"S'excuser, I didn't hear it."
"No matter where you are in the house, you can always hear the video-phone ring!"
"I was asleep upstairs."
"Are you alone?"
"Turn on the video-screen feature so I can see you," she demanded.
I hit the button she requested and now we could see each other via our phones.
"Why do you have tissues hanging out of your nose?" she gave a funny look.
"My nose won't stop running and it was keeping me awake having to blow it all the time."
"Have you taken more medication?"
"Is Kevin there with you?"
"No, of course not."
"Pan the phone around the room so I can see if you're alone."
"Do it!" she ordered.
So I did what she said a second time and I turned my phone around so it wasn't featuring my face anymore and I circled the bedroom with it.
"Bien," she said, as soon as we were looking at each other again. "Did Kevin come inside the house after your date?"
"No Mama, he went straight home."
"Are you lying to me?"
"No!" I snapped, losing the last of my patience. "Kevin's little brother Hugh was with us because of a family emergency in the Wisetail family."
"Bien," she looked like she relaxed a little. "Do you know how worried I've been, trying to call you and wondering why you didn't answer?"
"I told you Mama, I was asleep."
"Go back to sleep then," she said. "I'll be home at 3.30 AM and I'll try not to wake you."
"Oui, Mama," I rubbed my eyes with one hand. "Oh, did you call out to me with your mind?"
"Yes I did, I had to because you weren't answering your phone."
"I heard you."
"I'm glad, I had to reach you somehow," she sounded relieved.
"It woke me up," I told her. "I'm happy it did, because I was having a nightmare."
"What kind of nightmare?"
"It was a storm dream, Mama."
Then we turned silent for a moment, as Mama knew my foresight well enough to know that the dream served as a warning.
"We'll talk about this in the morning," she said. "I have to go back to work now Mali."
"Oui Mama, au revoir."
We both hung up at the same time and I climbed back into bed. I placed my phone on my bedside table, next to the box of tissues. I replaced the tissues up my nose with clean ones then I settled back down to sleep.
To be honest, I wasn't in a rush to return to unconsciousness, not after that dream I had. Instead, I laid there in the darkness, contemplating what I had 'seen'. At the movies, Kevin's eyes looked like they were glowing red but I'm sure it was because they were reflecting the light off the cinema's screen. But a little voice inside my head told me not to discredit the coincidence yet.
I slept in until eleven o'clock the next morning. I felt a lot better, probably because of all the juice I drank yesterday. I dressed warmly then I went downstairs into the kitchen to procure some breakfast. To my surprise, I found Mama sitting at the kitchen bench, sipping on a cup of coffee.
"Comment allez-vous?" she greeted.
"I feel much better," I answered.
"So tell me what you dreamed last night," she put down her cup.
I sat down on the second stool beside her and laid it all out; the woods, the glowing eyes and how I couldn't see the three people clearly.
"What do you think the glowing eyes mean?" I asked her.
"I don't know," she frowned. "Did anything strange happen on your date last night?"
Funny how she asked that and I answered her as truthfully as I could. I told her about the couple sitting in front of us in the cinema and how Kevin's eyes looked like they momentarily glowed red. Mama stayed quiet as I laid it all out and her frown deepened.
"How well do you know the Lokoti Tribe?" she asked, once I'd finished speaking.
"Well enough to know they're hiding a secret," I said. "I think the whole tribe is in on it and even their children know. It's like a conspiracy."
Mama turned around on her stool so she was facing me directly before she spoke.
"Mali, I don't want you to go to tribal lands after school anymore."
"Quoi?" I uttered in surprise. "But why?"
"You can sit with your friends at school but don't go to their houses afterwards."
"But Mama -" I objected when she cut me off.
"You'll come home straight from school and come home alone, don't invite your friends over."
"What if the secret the Lokoti are hiding is dangerous?" she pointed out. "What if they're doing something illegal? I don't want you implicated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with your friends."
"But Kevin is my boyfriend -"
"Oui, but he hasn't told you what he's hiding, has he?"
"He said someday he would."
"Oui, when you're in so deep with them that you can't get out," she said angrily.
At that moment, I realized Mama didn't trust Kevin and the Wisetail family or Lucia and the Sabre family, one bit. She was sceptical of everything and everyone. She wanted to distance herself and her sole child from anything that may hurt us again, like Papa did.
"Mali, you are blessed with many gifts," she continued. "Your storm dreams always warn of something bad to come. It would be foolish to ignore the signs."
Annoyed, I slid off the stool and I was about to go back upstairs to my bedroom when Mama tried to stop me.
"I know you sense that I'm right," she sung out.
"Mama," I whirled around to face her. "Not everyone is like Papa so not everyone is as selfish and spiteful and untrustworthy! I know he hurt us but you must stop withdrawing from the world!"
At first she blanched at my words but then I saw her face settle into a determined expression.
"I stand by what I said, Mali," she said resolutely. "From now on, you'll come straight home from school and you'll come home alone."