The next morning I didn’t wake up to go to school. I don’t know why. I just didn’t. Stella, our maid, came into my room to call me more than once, and asked me if I was ill or something. She took my temperature. I had no fever. Then my father came in. He said:
"Lara, I must go now, what’s wrong with you?"
"I don’t know," I told him. "I just don’t know."
"Well, if you’re not feeling well just stay home. I’ll be back for lunch, and then we’ll talk, all right?" and he gave me a kiss.
Everything seemed so peaceful.
"All right," I said. "See you later, dad."
Then, after lunch, my whole life changed. We had eaten in the kitchen and I was feeling slightly better, but I was still wearing my pajamas as if I had the flu or something.
My stepmother went out with my half sister, Stella was busy around the house, and my father came into my room to talk. He sat on my bed and proclaimed, gravely:
"Lara, when school is over this spring, I want you to go to Holland and live with your mom."
I looked at him in some sort of disbelief. He waited for me to say something and, as I didn’t, he continued:
"It’s not that I don’t love you, or that Pearl doesn’t love you, we do, very much, but your mom and I agreed that it’s better for you to go and live with her now."
I couldn’t open my mouth. I expected anything except that. I thought my father would say I couldn’t go out with Gil so much, that Gil couldn’t come around that often, that we had to spend less time on the telephone, or that I had to study more. I never thought my father would want to deport me.
"You’re only just sixteen, Lara, and I’m worried about you," my father went on. "You’ve always been a very special girl, and I know that all that happened in the last few years hasn’t been easy on you…"
He rearranged a piece of my hair and placed it behind my ear.
"You’re a teenager now, you need your mom."
I knew he expected me to say something, but I just couldn’t. I was so confused. He kept on talking:
"I’m not going to tell you that you can’t see Gil from now on, you can, but it’s really enough as it is, you know?"
He looked into my eyes, hoping for some reaction, a blink, a protest, anything, but I couldn’t react in any way. He went on:
"It’s not that the age difference between you is all that big, you know? It’s just that the two of you are going through very different stages of your lives. He’s a college student, you’re in high school, he’s over eighteen, you’re under… you see?"
I just nodded. If my father only knew that Gil’s age and the fact that we liked each other was the least of my worries. If my father only knew that my mind was ever so confused about love, eternity, dreams, mirrors and realities.
"You haven’t had the best grades ever since you met Gil, and you haven’t written anymore… did you give up your book, Lara?" my father asked me.
I still couldn’t answer. I just raised my shoulders to let him know that I didn’t really know, that I hadn’t though about it and that my book was the least of my worries at that moment.
He smiled at me in silent comprehension and told me that he was going to let me rest, for I didn’t look too good that day. So he stroke my hair once more, as if he wanted to disarrange it back to the way it was before, and off he went through the door, closing it behind him.
I must tell you, my father’s decision was some kind of relief.
Gil called that afternoon, but I wouldn’t talk to him. I was still thinking. My mind felt like some field after a bomb exploded in it. Everything was mixed up, hurt, and in a perfect chaos.
However, after the explosion, all I had to do was recover and get myself back together. And I did that for about three days. Gil kept calling, and finally, not being able to talk to me, he decided to pick me up from school.
There he was, late afternoon, when the days were already starting to get longer, waiting for me at the end of the stairs by my high school entrance.
Man, did he look ever so charming, so tall, so pretty and shiny, with such neat clothes that gave him such a nerdy look, and a cigarette in his mouth.
He followed me down with his gorgeous eyes while I walked down the stairs towards him, with my witchy clothes, my hair in a total mess, my army boots and my dark depressed look, and I could just feel my colleagues staring at us behind my back and wondering what the hell did we see in each other that could possibly draw us together.
I could also imagine the expression on my face that would tell Gil just how much I was in love with him, and well, he looked at me in the exact same way.
"Hi," I greeted, slightly smiling, stopping in front of him.
"Hello," he greeted back, standing there, in all his astonishing beauty.
"Sorry I wouldn’t come to the phone…" I apologized.
"No problem. Why didn’t you?"
"I was thinking."
"Do you want to tell me what about?"
"Yes, of course, I was going to call you."
"I believe you, Lara."
"All right, well, actually, can we go to my house? I’m feeling quite comfortable there lately."
And off we went, up my high school street, passing the church, passing the park in front of the cemetery, passing the last stop of tram 28.
Before we got to my house I had already told him that I was very confused about everything that was going on in my life, like being in love with him, his age, my feelings for Otto, Alice, and that I was going to Holland.