Saturday’s are strange days for me, most people get to spend the day with their families or hang out with their friends but me; I spend the day alone and usually bored. Today I decided to go for a walk; the weather had turned uncharacteristically bright. The previous days talk with K had played through my mind enough times this morning for me to think maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t hurt so much to let him try to make things right.
Walking down the high street I came across the same old lady I see every early morning on my way to school, I smiled a little to myself when I realised she had her grandson with her pulling her shopping trolley. Drawing nearer I recognised something familiar about him, that couldn’t possibly be K helping an old lady could it?
“Now, you will tell me if that gets too heavy for you, wont you?” asked the lady, her voice strong and clear with the hint of an indefinable accent.
“Granma, you know I can’t do that.” Said the unmistakable voice of K. On hearing his voice I paused and pulled out my phone so I had a legitimate reason to stop. Ordinarily I wouldn’t even think of eavesdropping on someone but K is different, I couldn’t understand how the same person could be so kind.
“Being stubborn is a family trait you know.” K’s Granma said with a smile. “Bernie from the knitting club likes to tell me I’m as stubborn as a mule.”
“How is Bernie?” K chuckled.
“Oh, you know Bernie dear. He’s his usual bad tempered and angry self; he likes an argument does Bernie.”
“So do you sometimes.”
“Cheeky little monkey, you’ll miss me when I’m gone.”
“Gran, don’t say that.” He exclaimed as they moved away down the street.
“So, you really want to give him a chance?” Lola asked on Monday when I explained how K had followed me after school and how I’d overheard him with his Gran. We hadn’t got to hang out on Sunday as Lola’s mum had dragged her off to an open day or something.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” I asked her while images of the school burning down and everyone the blame on me flashed through my mind.
“I guess even K deserves a second chance.” Lola said thoughtfully, she still seemed distracted. “You know, Valentine’s Day is next week.” An almost dream like expression fell across her face then.
“I didn’t realise.” I said. “But you did, are you in love?”
“Why would you think that?” Lola asked turning slightly pink and shooting another glance around the room, something she’s been doing more and more lately.
“You just seem distracted lately.” I said watching her face for any sign of the truth.
“Sorry Tabitha, I have been and so have you.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked puzzled.
Lola just smiled at me with a funny look in her eyes, halfway between pity and amusement. I don’t think I’ve done anything worthy of pity in a few months but I could be wrong, I tend to forget things from time to time. The dull drinnggg of the bell shot through the room and with a sigh we made our way out into the corridor.
“Tabitha?” K said standing in front of our table at lunch time.
“Please can I sit with you?” he asked in a gentle voice. I guess there are two ways you could describe how he stood the first, shifty mostly because of the way he kept fidgeting and shuffling his feet as if he expected the police to appear at any minute but he just looked nervous to me. I guess I expect the worst from him too quickly.
“Lola, is that ok?” I asked turning to look at her; unfortunately Lola seemed more interested in Felix and his silly antics on the next table over.
K took his seat opposite me as soon as she stopped speaking; he had a relieved expression on his face. “I’m sorry for being so horrid to you both all those years ago in middle school.” He said addressing Lola more than me.
“Yes...Tabitha told me you had said so.” Lola answered. “Hearing you say so in person is nice though.” From her tone I could tell she wasn’t quite ready to forget the past altogether but she had forgiven him. K just nodded in recognition.
A few minutes passed in uneasy silence, Lola returned her attention to Felix and K turned his on me. I couldn’t eat with him watching me so I set down my sandwich. “What happened to you after middle school?” I asked part of me curious as to what could have brought about such a change in K.
“I could tell you my dad started dressing as a woman, that I came home one day after school and thought he was my mum and that she didn’t take it well so he left but that wouldn’t be true.” He said dodging the question.
“You shouldn’t joke about things like that K, what if that really had happened to you?” I said unimpressed by his answer.
“Sorry, your right.” He conceded. “The truth is my dad did leave, he decided to follow his dream and move abroad. I went to live with him for a year but it was a disaster so I came home. I thought a lot about the kind of person I had been, how I had behaved to the people around me and decided I didn’t like the result. I changed the way I act and I’m trying to be kinder to people. In particular the people I care about.” I wondered if his words held some hidden meaning but I couldn’t think about it too much at the time because K continued speaking. “Thank you for giving me a chance Tabitha, I really appreciate it and I feel like I’ve been given the opportunity to go back in time almost and do things right this time, if that makes sense.”
“I guess you have a point...” it felt really strange to be agreeing with him. “I heard a rumour you went to Canada.”
“Canada, Canada, what do you mean Canada?” he asked.
“You know Canada where there’s ice and bears and The Northern lights?”
“Oh, right, no I went to Germany.” He explained with a smile, not his usual smug grin but a genuine smile full of warmth.
“Germany?” I asked in disbelief.
“You know Germany, its near Belgium and things.” K said amusement sparkling in his blue eyes.
I found myself laughing despite myself, there’s something very funny about the turn our conversation had taken. Some of the hostility I felt for him seemed to vanish and I found myself thinking maybe he really has changed.