I was eating breakfast the next morning and my host mother entered the house. She was a tall lady, light brown hair, but was generally very quiet. This bright and sunny morning she was too quiet.
"What?" I asked.
In her hand was a newspaper. "You're on the front page of the paper."
Clank. My fork fell onto the porcelain plate. I stood and rushed to her. She opened the folded paper and showed me a picture of myself on the beach with Michael Clifford. I felt a rush of excitement at seeing Michael then a rush of fear at the meaning that was beginning to dawn on me.
"Oh no," I said.
My host brother came down from his room and said, "Excited about the audition today?" My mouth was still open when he regarded me. "What's going on?" he asked.
"Oh, the audition. Oh." I fondled the cello that was back by my seat at the table. "I'm supposed to be nervous for the audition. Now I'm nervous for other reasons. This isn't good."
My placed his hand on my shoulder, firmly, and said, "I've heard you play. It's beautiful." He lifted his hand. "What do you have to be nervous about?"
All of our eyes diverted to the staccato knocking at the door. I backed away in fear. My host-mother closed the gap between herself and the door with two steps. She opened it with what I considered recklessness.
A women appeared. She nosed her way around my host-mom. "Alexandria, is that you?" She had a thick Australian accent and apparently concept of boundaries.
I took another step back.
"Alexandria," she went on. "Is it true that you were with Michael Clifford? Is it true that you know his whereabouts?"
I looked to my host-brother. His brow was furrowed in confusion. "You're not talking about... 5 Seconds of Summer?"
"Indeed I am young man," the lady said. "In fact...."
"Who are you?" I interjected.
She looked at me. It was hot out but she was dressed in multiple layers of clothing with a hat. "Gossip Columnist of the Sydney Times Christie Hemingway." She adjusted her hat as if she took pride in her name.
I chuckled. "Like the author?"
She squinted her eyes. "Yes. Writing is in my family blood." She paused. "For now, young lady, I'll need you to be answering my questions."
My host-mother stepped between her and me. "Excuse me, Ms. Hemingway, I'll be asking you to leave now."
I grabbed my cello and navigated my to the door. The gossip columnist attempted to block my way but my host-brother held her back and said, "Let her go Ms. Hemingway."
"Thanks brother," I said.
A warm breeze hit my face as I stepped outside. It was sunny and I squinted.
A boy stood in front of me.