I walked back home on my side of the street and waved back at the twins before I went back inside the house, wiping my shoes off on the mat before I came in. I walked back up the stairs and went to my room, throwing my bag on the bed and kicking off my shoes before I slouched down on the bed and sighed, thinking about the day that had just gone by.
I fell asleep for a while and my mother woke me up as she entered my room with a bang, furious that I hadn’t been answering to her calls.
“I’ve been calling you for the past five minutes!” she almost shrieked “What do you think you’re doing?!”
I groaned as I got up from my bed and saw my raggedy reflection in my wardrobe’s mirror. My uniform was shaggy, tie undone and glasses askew, and all in all, I looked like a mess. I had been drooling in my sleep so I wiped the spit off my chin with my sleeve and looked up at Mum.
“I was sleeping, sorry.” I grumbled, frowning a bit as I got up from the bed, ruffling my hair back in place.
My mother sighed “You got home late.”
“I was with friends.” I said defensively. Her glare softened.
“Fine. Do you have any homework for tomorrow?” she asked without asking anything else. Sure mum, I’m doing fine and I had a great day, how about you? Whatever.
“I have this one thing I gotta do, but don’t worry, it will be done.”
“It will be done, it WILL be done!” she huffed “It’s always ‘it will be done’ with you but I hardly see you doing any homework.”
“I read my books, I read my lessons! That’s what I’ve always done and I’ve been doing fine!”
“Yes, you ‘read’, of course.”
“Of course I do!” I snapped back at her. I couldn’t believe it, why was she trying to pick a fight all of a sudden.
“Don’t you bite my face off. I want to see written work done tonight.” She told me, pointing a finger at me as one would do with a dog. “Now put on some normal clothes and come set the table. One of Dad’s colleagues is coming home for dinner with his wife.”
That was all she said before she shut the door behind her and stormed downstairs.
The problem with my mother was that: she could go from being chirpy and upbeat one minute to disgustingly bitchy the next.
I hated that side of her, but I couldn’t do anything against her raging mood swings. I still loved her, I guess, she was my mother after all. She was just in a bad mood and needed to let some steam off, so I didn’t really mind when she did it on me…
Wait. No. That was a lie. I hate it when she yells at me but—dammit, who actually enjoys being yelled at by their mother? Nobody, that’s who.
She’d always nag at me to get dressed, wash my teeth, do my hair, do my homework, more homework, written homework, because just reading the books given to you by school is never enough. I’m sixteen for Pete’s sake, I don’t need her nagging at me like that!
I got dressed in a pair of jeans and one of my trademark checkered shirts, rolled up the sleeves, pushed up my glasses, and I was off. I walked out my room’s door and then went downstairs to help Mum set the table.
The next morning, I got up earlier than the day before. I didn’t want to be late today, for some reason.
I had changed my alarm on my phone to default, rather than one of my songs. I loved Alestorm, but there was no way I was going to start hating their songs because I stupidly used them as a wake-up alarm.
I put on my uniform and clumsily did my tie, brushed my hair and finally cleaned my glasses. Then I went to the kitchen to have some breakfast. Mum wasn’t there, Dad told me she was sick last night so she wouldn’t be at work today. Just as I was finishing buttering my toast, he got up and gave me a pat on the back before he walked out to the garage to take the car to the clinic.
I walked out the door and up the street. At the corner of the building I usually took a turn by to go to school were the twins, visibly waiting for me.
“Are you always this late?” asked Grégoire as he finished his morning cigarette, flipping the butt on the road where it was run over by a car. He then looked back at me with a grin and made a quick motion with his head “Get your ass moving.”
“Wait a minute—“ said Marie-Ange, , letting go of her brother’s arm to get on tiptoe to reach up and grab my tie. I was swiftly pulled down to her level as she undid it and did it up again correctly, giving me a small smile when she was done “There. Now you look decent.”
“Thanks.” I blurted out, blushing a bit. I hoped they wouldn’t notice. I didn’t understand why, but I felt that my cheeks were heating up for some reason. Maybe it was Marie-Ange’s perfume… It smelled nice. She smelled like candy, though it wasn’t overwhelming, I liked it.
I gave the girl a quick smile before she went back to holding onto her brother’s arm. I walked on her side, this time, meaning that she was between us.
“Did you guys do your Maths homework for today? I didn’t understand a thing of what was written.”
“Yeah, I did it, though I probably got everything all wrong.” Grégoire admitted as he looked back to me “I suck at Maths anyway.”
“Well hey, I suck at French, which is why I’m waiting for you guys to teach me.” I said jokingly, poking Marie-Ange’s shoulder teasingly. She looked up at me and gave me a small smile.
“We could help you, I guess.” Said Grégoire as he looked back to me.
“That’d help me a lot. I don’t want to have to have a tutor… So yeah. When are you not busy?” I asked them as we walked out of the park and into another street.
“Well,” Greg started, looking straight forward “We’re free this evening, if you want, you could come by after school with us.”
“Yes! That would be a great idea!” his sister exclaimed, looking up to me “But if you’re busy, we understand, don’t worry.”
“No, no, it’s fine, I’m great!” I told her, nodding quickly.
Marie-Ange was beaming, Grégoire grinned as he saw her smile. They looked so happy that I was coming for classes and I thought it was weird.
We soon arrived in the school’s courtyard and joined Gatsby, James, and Connor on the bench. There was a girl with them, who was then introduced to me as Nathalie, Marie-Ange’s best friend. She had long blonde hair tired in a braid and oval glasses. She hugged Marie-Ange tightly when we arrived. Both girls giggled and talked about the latest episode of this one anime they liked and that Gatsby needed to catch up on.
I was about to open my mouth join in on the conversation, as I knew which anime it was they were talking about when the bell rang and we all headed inside the school’s gothic buildings for our first class of the day.
Hours passed and they day was soon over. At 3:30 we all walked out of our classes.
I had just had my first French class and it had been a complete disaster, not only did I not understand a single word the teacher was saying when he spoke French, but the bastard also have us homework for the next class. God fucking dammit.
I walked through the courtyard and over to the bench where the twins, their friends and I were gathered around this morning. Grégoire was talking to Gatsby and Marie-Ange was on her phone, playing Candy Crush.
The short girl looked up from her game and waved at me with a smile “How was your day?” she asked me simply.
I shrugged and looked back down on her, giving her a weak grin “School sucks.” I said in a monotonous tone.
She gave a small, girlish laugh and put her game on hold, shoving her phone back into her schoolbag. She got up and tugged on my sleeve “Shall we go?” she asked me, looking up to me.
I nodded at that. Marie-Ange then turned back to her brother, tapping his shoulder.
“Greg, viens, on y va.” she told him quickly.
Grégoire turned back and looked down on his sister before he sighed and waved back at Gatsby before he joined us. We walked to the main gate and soon got out of school and on the streets.
We walked for quite a while, down the busy streets of our town and through the park that separated our part of town from school. Grégoire tagged behind while his sister and I walked ahead. He then called out to us and suggested we stop to sit down on a bench.
Marie-Ange agreed immediately and joined her brother on the wooden park bench. She motioned for me to join her as she took out a packet of chocolate buttons from her bag.
On the other hand, Grégoire had taken out one of his cigarettes , lighting it before he brought it to his lips to puff on it calmly, leaning back on the bench as he undid his tie and rolled up his sleeves.
His sister pouted “I did a perfect knot this morning and that’s how you treat it? Shame on you, Greg.” She told him with a mock scowl. Grégoire grinned and poked his twin’s cheek as a response before he blew smoke in her direction.
I blinked “Wait, you mean she ties your tie for you?” I asked the black-haired boy. He looked back up to me once he had finished waving the smoke from his sister’s face.
“Well yeah, I mean, it’s easier that way. And I don’t know how to tie a tie anyway.”
“Didn’t your dad teach you how to do that?” I asked again, taking a chocolate button from Angie’s packet.
Greg paused, frowning a bit as he brought his cigarette to his lips again and inhaled before he exhaled the smoke through his nose. It was only then that he spoke up.
“We don’t have a father.”
That felt like he dropped a bomb. Shit, oh shit, shit, shit, I fucked up again.
“I… uh, I’m sorry…?” I said warily, scared that I had offended him.
Grégoire just shrugged and sighed some more smoke out of his lungs. Marie-Ange, who was between us, gave her brother a pat on the back before she looked back at me.
“Don’t worry, David, you didn’t know.” She told me with a small smile “And we’re doing fine without him… We’ve gotten used to it, don’t worry!” she assured me again “Right, Grégoire?” she asked her brother, putting a hand on his shoulder, almost in a motherly manner.
Nodding, Grégoire threw his cigarette butt to the ground and stepped on it, crushing the remains of the cancer stick under his foot before he bent over and picked it up, only to throw the butt in the bin next to the bench we were loitering.
Marie-Ange was the next one to be up. She got closer to Greg and hugged him. She then let go and held his hand before she looked back at me “Do you want to change into normal clothes for the lesson, or are you fine with staying in your uniform?” she asked me kindly.
I pushed up my glasses and shrugged “I’m fine with staying in my uniform.” I told them as I got up.
Angie nodded and took my arm, holding it like she held her brother’s arm this morning. I was surprised that she did that. I always thought that arm-holding like that was something very private that you’d only do with people you love—or, in Marie-Ange and Grégoire’s case, someone you’re deeply fond of, platonically speaking.
My arm was pressed against the girl’s upper body, my elbow settled between her soft, round breasts… Wait, why was I thinking about this poor girl’s breasts? No, no, I’m gross. I had known Marie-Ange for about two days and whomp, there we go, I started thinking about her tits.
I gave Marie-Ange a small, awkward smile before she let go of my arm, only holding it with one of hers, pressing it against the side of her chest, while she took her brother’s hand with her free one.
“Shall we go, then?” I asked the twins. Angie nodded and dragged us forward, towards the bridge across the stream and out of the park.
Soon enough we had arrived at the twins’ place. Grégoire took the front door’s key out of his bag and opened the door to let the three of us in.
I walked inside the twins’ home and looked around. It was a quaint, stereotypically British home.
There was a staircase in the main hallway which I assumed led to the bedrooms. It was a pretty white wooden staircase with a cream carpet going down the steps. I noticed on the railing a yellow post-it with pretty cursive letters written on it signed ‘Maman’. I simply guessed that the twins’ mother was going to be home late.
At least they had a mother. Whew. Now I knew that if I asked them about their mother, they wouldn’t get offended… I hoped.
Grégoire snatched the sticky note and read it, frowning before he looked at Angie and told her something in french. I didn’t understand, as he spoke quickly. I didn’t dare to ask what happened, though I didn’t really care either. It was their business anyway.
Greg, Angie, and I walked into the living room. It was a pretty room with the same striped wallpaper as in the hallway, two cream coloured couches facing each other settled next to the fireplace. There was a round mahogany coffee table between said couches on which were settled women’s magazines and, in the middle of the table, a small vase with a small bouquet of pretty blue and pink flowers.
“I’m gonna go get changed.” Said Grégoire behind me. He had already taken off his tie before he turned back without waiting for our reply. He walked up the stairs and disappeared.
Meanwhile, Marie-Ange suggested we go make some tea.
“Sure, I’ll help. Can I have some coffee though?” I asked her politely.
She nodded at that “Sure, Greg takes coffee as well.” She told me as we walked into the pretty little kitchen. There were more vertical stripes, green and beige ones this time. There was a rectangular wooden table with five chairs facing a small TV which was set on top of the small fridge.
Little Angie was struggling to grab the ground coffee from the top shelf of the cupboard. I was about to get it myself to save her from the trouble of getting a chair to climb up on it in order to get the goddamn coffee.
“Non, non, c’est bon.” She said in French. I blinked at her and stepped back, putting my hands in my pockets. Why the hell did she speak to me in French? Maybe just out of habit. Regardless, I just let out a small ‘d’accord’ and I let her get the chair to get the coffee. Once she stepped back down she smiled at me.
“Ça va?” she asked kindly. I nodded.
“Why are you talking to me in French, though?” I asked her in english.
She giggled at that “You’re here to learn French, dummy.” She replied with a small smile “And the best way for that to happen is if you speak it with us and listen to us when we speak. Understood?” she said sweetly as she put the kettle on and opened the fridge to take out some milk. She then took out some sugar from a lower cupboard. I watched her as she moved around, feeling a bit useless. She wanted me to speak French? Fine. She’ll see how pathetic I am.
“Vous…” wait, was that the correct pronoun? Fuck it, I don’t even care anymore “Wait, how do you say ‘want’?” I asked her.
“The verb is ‘vouloir’ and it’s an irregular.” She told me “Je veux, tu veux, il veut… Oh, and since I’m your friend, and I’m your age, you have to use the Tu pronoun. Vous is for strangers and superiors such as your boss, teacher… What was it that you wanted to say?”
“I wanted to ask you if you wanted any help making tea and stuff.”
She smiled at that “It’s ’Est-ce que tu veux de l’aide avec le thé?’.”
I cleared my throat and spoke, trying to use my best accent.
“Ayske, too ve duh laid—“ I couldn’t finish my sentence, Marie-Ange was giggling.
“Gosh, I’m so sorry, David, but your French is terrible!”
“Yeah, I know.” I grumbled, shoving my hands in my pockets.
“Don’t worry, though, we’ll help you.” She said with a smile “And yes, you can help me with the tea… Look in that cupboard and take the strawberry infusion box, please.”
I did as she told me, opening the cupboard she had pointed to and, thanks to my giraffe-like height, I took the strawberry infusion box and handed it to Marie-Ange.
I thought it was cute that she’d like something so sweet and fruity. I didn’t know why, but I tended to give great importance to what people like to eat and drink. I thought it said a lot about their personalities.
She put the teabag in a round teacup with a cat’s face painted on it and her name written in pretty cursive letters on the back. She then put sugar in, and finally the boiled water.
She then took out a blue striped coffee mug and put the ground coffee in it before she added the water and some milk. After that, she looked at me and spoke again in French.
“Tu le prends noir, ton café?” she asked, pointing to the mug of coffee she had just filled. I understood ‘noir’ which meant ‘black’, so I deduced that she was asking me if I took my coffee black.
“Ah! Uh, non? Avec du lait.” I said clumsily, pointing to the bottle of milk “Listen, Angie this is ridiculous, I can’t do this.” I told her with a sigh.
“If you’re going to give up, you might as well do it with dignity.” Said a deep, accented voice from behind me.
I turned around to see Grégoire leaning against the doorframe, now clad in black jeans and a blue, white, and brown striped long sleeved shirt. He had his arms crossed and was looking at Angie and me. He kicked off from the doorframe and walked over to me “Do you really want to give up and never have anything to do with us ever again? Are you sure?”
“Greg, don’t guilt-trip him.” Said Marie-Ange with a sigh.
Grégoire chuckled and mock-punched me in the shoulder “Don’t worry, we’re not gonna kick you out. We like you.”
“You do?” I asked him, blinking.
“Well Angie does, and I always trust her when it comes to liking people. So yeah, we like you.”
I could feel my cheeks heat up a bit at hat. I mean, it wasn’t the first time someone said that they liked me, or that they even appreciated my presence among human beings, but coming from the twins—especially from Grégoire—it was rather overwhelming.
“Well thanks, I like you guys too.”
“Great! So that settles it, you’ll have French classes with us every evening from now on!”
“Every evening?! But—“
“No buts! I said that it should happen, so it will happen.”
“Greg, we also have other stuff to do! You have rugby practice.” said Marie-Ange, pouting a bit.
“Ah.” Said Grégoire, chewing on the inside of his cheek—I noticed he did that a lot, it was weird. He thought for a while and spoke again.
“Well, how about you give him classes? Bring him to the rugby pitch for all I care! “
Marie-Ange looked at me and handed me my cup of coffee with a shrug “Well? Do you want to come? It could be fun…” she suggested as she turned back to stir some sugar into Greg’s coffee before she handed it to him.
Grégoire took his coffee and sipped from it, waiting for my answer.
Sure, it could be fun. It would mean that I could spend more time with the twins, and that would be great. I liked their company, after all. As I’ve said before, there was something about them that made me want to stick to them like a magnet. Perhaps it was because I was desperate to find friends who shared my interests, despite the fact that I had found James, or maybe it was for the benefits it would bring me, being friends with these two kids who could guarantee me excellent grades in French…
“Well okay, then.” I said, sitting down on one of the kitchen chairs, bringing my long legs as close to one another, folding them under the chair so I wouldn’t take up too much space.
Marie-Ange smiled brightly as she sipped on her tea, giving her brother a look which seemed to insinuate something… But what that thing was, I didn’t know.
“That settles it, then!” Greg exclaimed, putting his coffee mug down on the kitchen table. He looked at me and smirked before he gave me a firm pat on the back. Marie-Ange sipped on her strawberry tea and settled the cup down on the counter as she nodded “You’re welcome to come over to our place whenever you want if you want to improve your French… Or if you just want to hang out with us, either is fine.” She said, twirling a lock of her thick black hair around her index finger.
I grinned back at her and nodded “Sure, that sounds great… But won’t your mother mind? I mean, I wouldn’t want to barge in all the time…”
“Mum’s always away.” Said Grégoire with the same tone he used when he announced that he didn’t have a father “She’s always at work with her boss.”
Marie-Ange sighed and told Greg to shut up about that in a rather disappointed tone, as if she had told him to silence himself a thousand times prior. Greg rolled his eyes and took his coffee cup from the table and gulped down the remaining bitter liquid “Eh,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand “You’ll find out soon enough why she’s never here.”
I shrugged. I didn’t really care, to be honest. What their mother did was their business, or at the very least, their mother’s business. It was none of mine.
Grégoire put his mug in the sink and shoved his hands in his pockets. Angie did the same when she finished her tea, and I followed. The short girl then excused herself, saying that she was going to take a shower and that she would be right back.
“You two should start going through homework.” She told us with a small, knowing smile. “David, you could help Greg with his Maths while he does your French for you.”
“I’m not ‘doing his French for him’, I’m going to help him improve his grammar, thank you very much.”
“He also needs help with his pronunciation!” the girl chimed as she walked out of the kitchen, waving at us. I waved back and looked up to Grégoire with a cornered smile which actually looked more like a grimace. Greg sighed and made the same face as I did before he reached to pull me up from my seating.
“Come on,” he said “Let’s go to my room to study, we’ll be better up there than in the living room.”
I nodded and got up, grabbing my bag as we walked out of the kitchen and up the steps together before we entered his room.