The tomb is slightly chilly, and I wrap my arms tightly around myself, not knowing if anyone in the expedition group noticed me or not. When my mother finally does look up and see me, she seems startled. "Amaunet, I didn't see you there. Would you like to come help us?"
I nod, and slowly walk towards them. Bruce watches me in a way that makes me uncomfortable, and I lean into Alistair's side, happy when I feel his arm slide around my waist, holding me close. My shoulder, neck and back ache badly, and the pain on the left side of my head is nearly constant. In the mirror this morning, I noticed bruising under my right eye, right along my cheekbone. Whether anyone else noticed it or not is unclear to me. I feel Alistair kiss the top of my head and I close my eyes. My mother is talking, but I somehow drown out her voice, feeling very far away, and when Alistair whispers my name, I open my eyes, shocked. Everyone is staring at me.
"Hmm?" I ask.
"We were hoping you'd help us read the inscription, sweety." Dad says, and I nod, moving forward, and Alistair walks with me, holding onto me tightly but gently.
I gently touch the inscription, the feeling of the indentations familiar enough to make my pulse race. "It will come to pass, a girl much like the beautiful Nefertiti, will come along and discover all of the secrets of the past. The secret society and the evil within it will be released on her and one person in particular is after her. He is the prime source of the evil and he can look like anyone, normal but in a sense, he is not normal. He is a worshiper of Setekh (Set) and is an ancient Setian, one of the original followers of Set, the evil beast, a demon of death. In this person, Set can take control, possessing him and becomes as solid and real as you or me. This is Suzama, ancient Oracle of Egypt, and I have lived many lives. I've seen myself meeting with the girl who is not Nefertiti, but a girl identical to her in every way. Should anyone find out she is indeed like Nefertiti, capable of reading all ancient texts and able to go back in time, the follower of Set will kill her before she has the chance to destroy the secret society forever. She is the light in the human world, a true being of the Gods. She shares blood with Nefertiti, hundreds of generations has passed, but the girl is the only female descendant of Nefertiti still alive. Any other female descendant will always be killed before she has the chance to discover who she is, in case she is the heir of Nefertiti, and the light in the darkness. She is in great danger, and should be protected at all costs. It has been prophesiesed that the two will switch lives, one to live in the modern world, and the other in the ancient world, one to save the other, destroying any chance the Setians could rise again. Should she succeed in switching lives with Nefertiti, a disturbance will occur, time and history will be rewritten, but only if the girl can destroy the society before it becomes powerful for the first time. Only then will she return to her own time, as Nefertiti returns to hers. Should either of them fail, hell will be brought upon the Earth. War and destruction shall rein for thousands of years before the Earth is vaporized by itself." I stop, reaching the end of the first part of the inscription.
Everyone is watching in a stunned silence, and Bruce is smirking, his entire face lit up like a christmas tree. Dizziness sweeps over me, and despite leaning into Alistair's side, I suddenly faint, collapsing in a heap, darkness closing in on me.
I hold onto Amaunet as she faints, her face serene and beautiful, her skin flushing a light pink and her parents order someone to pull their car closer to the tomb, asking me to hold onto her if I can. I hold her bridal style, her head against my chest, and her father checks to see how her shoulder is doing. I see the skin is a very, very dark blue, nearly black color, and I notice how the area trails up her neck, and into her hair. Her heart beat, I feel, is very faint, and I see how worried her father is.
"We need to get her to the campus doctor." Her father says, and her mother nods.
"She said she didn't want to go." I protest quietly.
Delphi gives me a look. "She's worse off than she was telling us, which I'm very sure you know Alistair. Isn't that right?" Her voice is condescending and I flinch involuntarily.
"Yes. She said not to tell you guys."
Ibrahim gives me a look. "You still should have told us, Alistair." His voice is stern, and I know he's going to give a call to my father about this.
"Sorry, sir." I whisper. "She had her reasons."
"Which are?" Delphi asks, wanting to know everything, as usual.
I don't look at Delphi, instead I look at Ibrahim. "She's afraid of doctors." I tell him.
"That explains why whenever she went to the doctor's office alone in the states, she always snuck out the back." Ibrahim shakes his head. "I should have known."
"She didn't want either of you to know." I admit. "She doesn't like showing feeling, I've seen that first hand."
"It's just because of her high IQ." Ibrahim says. "She borderlines on the highest IQ in the world."
"Which is?" I ask, and Delphi gives me a sharp look. "I have a right to know." I point out.
"169." Ibrahim tells me. "You do have a right to know. You care for her as much as her mother and I do. When she was a little kid, we had to give her flashcards of human emotions just so she could read facial expressions. It's not that she's unfeeling, or even unempathetic, but she has a hard time telling the difference between emotions most of the time. What she might think is anger can actually be intense passion or need. She understands sadness the most out of them all, though. Fear is also a strong emotion for her. Most of the time, she doesn't know what she's feeling, which leads to panic attacks and sometimes... you know about her near death experiences. Emotions are the one area that she doesn't do well on. Just the fact that she kissed you is a miracle in itself. She doesn't pick up on social, phsyical or verbal cues easily either. She does the best with cold hard facts."
"Reminds me of myself in a way." I admit. "When I was a little kid, my parents never knew what to do with me. I got into a lot of trouble, which I'm sure you remember."
Ibrahim chuckles. "Yeah, the fact that you tried to kiss Amaunet when you guys were kids was asking for trouble. If I recall correctly, she pushed you, then ran away."
"Yeah." I say. "I thought she was mad, but maybe she was just scared. My IQ is 140." I tell them. "My mother punished me for anything that wasn't up to her standard. I could never tell when she was truly mad at me, and she always threatened to leave. I would sometimes make her mad in the simplest ways. Laughing or crying at inappropriate times. It was too much for her, I guess. One day, she was just gone. I, of course, blamed myself, but my father explained to me that it wasn't my fault. Expressing emotions and understanding them is a lot harder than it seems to most people. I guess it could be why I connect with Amaunet so well."
"You should talk to her about that." Ibrahim says. "It might help her to talk about it."
"Cars out front." Daniel says, and I follow them out to the car.
"Follow us up there, will you?" Ibrahim asks.
"Of course. I'll be right behind you guys." I gently strap the seat belt around Amaunet, pushing her hair out of her face. She doesn't move, and her chest just barely moves as she breathes silently.
I wander over to my car, turning the key in the ignition, and follow Delphi and Ibrahim to the campus doctor. He is provided for whenever we have an expedition. Privately funded, wealthy, and the smartest doctor I've ever met, Dr. Mellins is about 65 years old, and I've known him since I lived in England a while back. I rarely visit England, and I know that Dr. Mellins hasn't visited in quite a while as well. He is waiting at the reception area when we arrive, having got a call from Ibrahim and Delphi. I carry her gently, and Dr. Mellins gives me a look. I haven't seen this look from him since I was a child, and I return it with a steely glare.
"You're not coming back. It'd be highly inappropriate, Alistair." His eyes are on me, but I glance at Ibrahim.
"It's fine, Evan." Ibrahim tells him.
"Ibrahim." Dr. Mellins says, astonished.
"I said, it's fine." Ibrahim repeats. "Alistair and Amaunet are okay around each other. You don't have to worry."
Dr. Mellins nods, and tells me to bring her back. I carry her carefully through the doors, and we go back to one of the rooms. Amaunet begins to wake up, and when she sees the hospital, she begins to have a panic attack.
"Amaunet, shh. It's alright." I hold her close, and her fingers grip my shirt tightly, and I set her down in a chair, but she doesn't let go of me. Tears fill her eyes, and I try to calm her the best I can, stroking her hair gently. "Amaunet, it's alright, sweety. I promise, I'm right here. Nothing bad is going to happen, sweety." I notice she calms down some, and I keep stroking her hair. "I'm right here." I whisper to her and her heart beat slows, and she looks around. Dr. Mellins looks between us, and I say "Dr. Mellins is going to take some X-rays and things. Is that alright?"
She shakes her head, and looks away from Dr. Mellins.
"Amaunet. You've known me since you were a little girl.You know I'm not going to hurt you, hun." He tells her.
"No." She mumbles, hiding her face against my shirt.
"Amaunet," I say in a warning tone. "I told you, it's alright." She pulls back, looking me in the eyes. Her eyes are still filled with tears, but many have spilled over. She shakes her head, and I lean forwards, gently kissing her. I hear Dr. Mellins gasp, but then Amaunet kisses me back, her hands shaking as they cup my cheeks.When I pull back, I whisper "No fear." I stroke her hair again and she nods.
"Sorry." She mumbles nearly silently to Dr. Mellins. His face is still covered in shock but he has a nurse come in to get her vitals while he orders the X-rays. One of the technicians comes down, waiting patiently for the nurse to finish with her vitals. When the technician tells Amaunet to go with her, Amaunet looks at me, fear stamped across her face.
"I'll be here when you get back. Remember, no fear. It's going to be alright." I kiss her cheek gently.
She nods, slowly standing up, slowly following the technician out of the room.
"She didn't freak out when you kissed her." Dr. Mellins mutters, and I glance over at him.
"It's not like she's a little girl anymore, Dr. Mellins." I say. "Earlier yesterday... she actually kissed me first."
"Have you told her parents that you've kissed?"
"They know. Her father's actually seen it." I whisper. "I'm not going to hurt her. I love her."
"You're obsessed with her. Just like you were when you were both kids." Dr. Mellins mutters.
"You wouldn't understand." I whisper. "She's a lot more like me than anyone else I've ever met. She understands me."
"Does she like you?" Dr. Mellins asks, leaning against the wall.
"I think she might." I tell him. "But of course, she's only been here a few days. We don't really know each other very well."
"I still think you're obsessed with her." He tells me. "I don't understand your angle."
"What angle?" I ask, shocked.
"She's not even 18 year old yet, Alistair. You're 21. You're much to old for her, and she's practically a child. She's not like other girls, Alistair. She's much smarter than the rest of us." Dr. Mellins says.
"There isn't an angle." I tell him. "And I get that I'm older than her. But three years isn't that much. If she likes me... I'd like to be with her. I know she's smart and it's not like I'm the stupidest guy on the planet. My IQ is 140." I say.
"Hers is 169." Dr. Mellins says. "She's the smartest person I know, and she's also so young still to be so smart. And she's only going to get smarter."
"Yeah. Her parents said she's always had trouble expressing emotions, so she gets herself into a lot of trouble. Which is one reason why I can relate to her so well. I'm always getting into trouble. It's almost like I can't stay out of it." I say.
"You might end up balancing each other out." Dr. Mellins says. "Sometimes it happens. Just know that she is one special little girl, and a lot of people would kill you if you ever hurt her."
"Are you one of those people?" I ask, and Dr. Mellins chuckles.
"I don't kill people. Just remember that there are people out there who care about her and will stop at nothing to keep her safe." Dr. Mellins reminds me, hastily ruffling his papers.
"I know." I whisper. "I'm one of those people, even if you don't believe me, Dr. Mellins."
"From the looks of that shoulder, you didn't do enough to keep her safe." He mutters, and that's the final straw, I stride towards him quickly.
"That wasn't my fault! I know I didn't protect her from falling, but I didn't know she was going to fall. Sometimes accidents do happen, Doctor. Her parents don't blame me, so why don't you just stop it already!? What do you have against me?" I demand. "Because it must be something pretty bad if you're accusing me of letting her get hurt on purpose!"
Dr. Mellins glowers at me, his brown eyes dull and his gaze penetrating. "Forgive me for saying this, but you let her get hurt when she was a little kid, simply because you tried to kiss her and she ran off, and got hurt. But, honestly, it makes me wonder. Frankly, you're a bit possessive and obsessive. That is a deadly combination, Alistair. Not to mention that you have a wicked temper, much different than Amaunet's sadness. You show anger the best, while she shows sadness the best. What if your explosive behavior suddenly gets directed at her? She's a little girl, and you're not exactly a child. You're a lot taller than her, and are about 40 pounds heavier than her. Actually, make that about 50." His words hurt, I must admit.
"I'd never hurt her." I say, my voice choked. "I may show anger the best, but it does NOT mean I'd ever take anything out on Amaunet. And I will tell her parents you said so. I may be taller than her and weigh more than she does and older, but I'd never, ever do anything to hurt her. Sure, she got hurt when she was a little girl, but I never meant for that to happen. If I'd been there, I would have made sure she hadn't fallen into that pit. I would have made sure she'd never been bit by that snake. For you to accuse me of wanting to hurt her, or even that I'd get angry enough to hurt her, that's a low fucking blow, Doctor. I could never be mad at her. Especially not that much. I don't think I could be angry with her for a second."
"Whatever." He says, and I roll my eyes, then glance at the door when it opens. Amaunet's face peeks through, and she slides around the door, walking right over to me. Her face is slightly pale, and she looks scared still.
"Hey, Amaunet." I say, and when she hugs me, I hug her back, gently.
"I'm scared." She whispers, and I nod while Dr. Mellins looks over the X-rays.
"It's a really bad sprain." He says. "It starts at the shoulder, going down to her elbow, and she has bruising on her neck and skull. The bruises should fade within a few weeks, but the sprain may take several months to heal completely. We can give you a sling to support your arm, Amaunet."
"Alright." I say, and Amaunet nods. Dr. Mellins leaves the room to go get one that will fit her, and Amaunet watches me carefully.
"I don't like him." She whispers. "He's mean."
"You're telling me." I mutter. "The man hates me."
"Then he doesn't know what he's missing." Amaunet whispers to me. She leans forward, and the door opens. I don't move, and Amaunet leans closer to me, kissing me eagerly. Dr. Mellins clears his throat. Amaunet jerks back, and blinks a few times, looking around the room.
Dr. Mellins says "Can you support her arm while I strap it around her arm, please?" I nod, holding her arm up gently as Dr. Mellins slides her arm into it, and straps it around her nek. I gently pull her hair back and her hair falls comfortably around her. She doesn't seem happy about it, but at least the color of it, green and black, looks good on her. Her heart still seems to be racing, and when Dr. Mellins shows us to the waiting room, he asks her parents to talk to him for a moment. I take Amaunet outside.
"Can I ride back with you?" She whispers.
"Do you want me to come over tonight as well?" I ask her. "Maybe your parents might let me stay for dinner."
"I'd love that." She tells me. She kisses me and I blush as I pull her close, careful of her arm, and when I feel her tongue against my lips, I part them, my heart beginning to race as I feel her tongue lightly caress my own. I'd never felt so close to or so in love with anyone in my entire life. I don't know whether it's because it's her, or if I'd always known that someday this might happen, but it feels as if we'd always been this close. I feel eyes on us, and pull back. Her parents are watching us closly, and I blush brighter. Amaunet gazes at her parents with an unblinking, penatrating stare that seems to dare them to say something or make her stop kissing me in the future. "I want to ride home with Alistair." She says, almost boldly.
"That's fine." Her mother smiles, "Stay for dinner as well, Alistair." Her gaze is all knowing and the smile, I notice, is more of a smirk. I help Amaunet into my car, and we drive back to their flat. I hold her hand as we walk inside, and her mother says "Why not take that sling off and go take a shower, sweety. I'm sure Alistair can help you get the sling back on."
Amaunet glances at me shyly, and I smile. "Of course." I tell her. Amaunet nods, and leaves the room. I hear her puttering around in her room, then walk to the shower, and I hear the door shut then the shower start.
I look around the flat, things are the same as last night. But this is the first time I've been alone with her parents since she read us part of the scripture.
"There is a lot more of scripture that Amaunet didn't tell us." I say.
Ibrahim grabs a beer out of the refrigerator. He offers me one, and I decline. He pops the top on his, and takes a long, unhealthy swig of it. "She's not going to tell us anymore." He says. "If you seen the look on her face, she's already decided not to tell us anymore about it."
I nod, and glance at Delphi, who had sat down at the table, chopping some fruit for more smoothies. Her attention is fully on the fruit, and it makes me wonder if she's more upset about Amaunet than she's let on.
"Hopefully, she will still help." I murmur.
"It was cute watching the two of you together." Delphi speaks in a clear voice, and I glance back at her. "Evan is kind of stupid if he thinks you're going to hurt her."
"So he told you." I say, rubbing the back of my neck. "I swear, even though I do feel anger the best, I've never even been mad at her. I don't think it's possible for me to be mad it her. And I'd never hurt her even when I am mad."
"We know." Delphi reassures me. "Evan is..misguided. He's not a bad guy, really. He just.. I don't know how to explain it. He's taken care of her shots since she was a little kid, but she still doesn't trust him, and he's not very trusting of you after what happened when she was little."
"I'm sorry." I say quietly.
Ibrahim pats me on the back. "Don't be. She got upset, but I think she just had a crush on you and was scared because she didn't understand it. Things happen. Look how close you two are even though you just became friends. Some things are just meant to happen."
"I guess."Could it be possible that she'd liked me as much as I liked her? I hear shuffling, and glance towards the bathroom, and see Amaunet standing there, her long black hair heavy with water, hanging to her waist. She looks very small at that moment, so much like a child. She's wearing a thin black tank top, sea foam green shorts and she's holding onto the sling. I stand up, walking slowly over to her. I hold her hair out of the way and slide her arm gently into the sling, looping the strap around her neck and pressing the velcro easily and swiftly. I let her hair fall around her and she leans close to kiss me. My hands slide around her waist, holding her close. Her arm that's not in the sling wraps around my neck, her lips pressing hard against mine. It's like she doesn't care that her parents are probably watching, but honestly, I'm not sure I care either. Her lips are sweet, her hair smells amazing, and her skin is smooth where the back of her shirt rides up. I have to force myself not to stroke her smooth, soft skin, just as much as I have to force myself to pull back away from her. Her skin is luminous in the golden light of the room, her naturally tan skin shimmers and I get the feeling that she is the most special girl in the entire world, and not just because I am in love with her. Screw what Dr. Mellins had said. It's not an obsession. It's more like I finally feel as if I'm home, whereever she is. And I also get the feeling that she feels the same way, just like with that innocent yet yearning look on her face as she watches me closely.
We go over to the couch, and she sits so close to me, her side is pressed right up against mine, her head rests on my shoulder, and I feel so comfortable like that, even though we're just quiet and sitting together until her parents finish making dinner. Amaunet dozes off to sleep, and I wrap an arm around her, easily laying her down on the couch before standing up and going to help her parents finish making dinner.
"She seems so comforted by you." Delphi says in a quiet voice. "Perhaps she's finally getting used to her emotions."
"I hope so." I whisper, and Ibrahim raises his eyebrows.
"You're not still worried about what Evan said are you?" Ibrahim asks me. My hesitation seems enough for Ibrahim to know I am. "Alistair, you and I both know that you love my daughter. Just like we both know that despite her confusion of emotions, she loves you. Evan has known her since she was born. He's the one who did the tests for her IQ and brain scans that show how she confuses emotions, and even the magnitude of that confusion. He's certain that she doesn't understand love, but I assure you, despite her confusion, she knows and understands what love is. I've seen it with her mother and myself, and with you. I've never seen it in anyone but the three of us, Alistair. She isn't close to any of her grandparents, or her aunts and uncles, or her cousin. She doesn't relate well to many people. She absolutely loves you, and I know that Evan might have upset you, but I know you'd never hurt her. She relaxes around you, so it's obvious that there is no problem at all with you and her."
"Dr. Mellins also made a comment about our age differences." I murmur.
"She'll be 18 in a short time. And I already know nothing is going to happen between you guys. At least not for a long, long time." Ibrahim gives me a look.
"You know I wouldn't do something like that." My cheeks are red, and I finish cutting up the fruit, setting it inside the blender, but not pressing the button, not wanting to wake Amaunet.
"I figured you wouldn't. Everytime she wants to do more than just kiss, you back away from her. In a way that's good, but I doubt Delphi minds, and I know I don't, if you make out with her. I mean, she wants to. Just don't do that in the same room we're in. That'd be weird." Ibrahim says.
"It's fine with me. Nothing else though." Delphi says, giving me the same look that Ibrahim had.
"Yes, ma'am." I answer, and the I hear a small cough, and I glance over at Amaunet. She's still sleeping but she is shaking in her sleep. I walk over to her, grabbing the blanket that is drapped over the couch, and cover her with it. She relaxes when she feels the blanket, and I walk back to the kitchen, and I notice her parents exchanging a look. I blush brighter, and chop the potatos carefully. Soon all of the food is ready, and I walk back over to Amaunet, gently waking her up. She smiles at me, then looks at the blanket. "You fell asleep." I tell her, then help her stand up.
The four of us eat our dinner, steak and potatos, and salad, along with the smoothies. Amaunet asks for a glass of water as well, and her mother gets it for her before I have the chance to get up to do it myself. Amaunet actually eats tonight, and after dinner, we take another walk.
"I hope it'll always be like this." She says, taking my hand.
"Like what?" I mumur as we walk along the road.
"You staying for dinner...us taking walks together...." She trails off. "I love it."
"So do I." I tell her. It's still early, and the sun hasn't even started going down yet. At a little "Park" which is nothing more than a swing set and a slide, along with a few benches, we take a seat on one of the benches, watching the slight breeze toss sand through the air. I notice that her hair also moves with the breeze, and her curls don't get in her face. They blow out behind her, and she truly looks like a sand princess, as if she truly belongs here, in the desert, in Egypt. Her eyes catch mine, and the air seems to vibrate with the electricity between us.
"I was wanting to talk to you about something." She says, her voice quiet but even, similar to how it was when she was speaking Ancient Egyptian.
"Yeah?" I ask her, wondering if she's about to tell me to buzz off, while hoping she doesn't say anything similar to that.
"I love you." Amaunet whispers. "I keep getting flashbacks of us as children." She admits, her voice still even and quiet.
"I love you too, Amaunet." I tell her. "Flashbacks, though? What kind of things have you seen?" I ask, hoping it's nothing bad.
"You know, a lot of the time, it's just flashes of images of us playing together, but when I fall asleep, the images play as if they are a movie behind my eyes." Amaunet says. "A lot of it is good, but then there are a few bad things I seem to remember."
I gulp. "Bad things?" I ask.
"Not...like anything really bad. More like me reacting badly to everything." Amaunet says, her fingers tightening around mine. Our faces are close enough for me to see yellow and blue flecks in her irisis, and for me to feel the cool breath on my lips. "Whenever you were showing your feelings for me, I either ran away, started crying, or wouldn't even make eye contact with you. I thought maybe you deserved an explaination for how rude and mean I was to you. I'm not like most girls my age, I have this stupid high IQ, and I have trouble discerning emotions. I get confused a lot, and sometimes I react badly when I don't understand what I'm feeling. And I'm sorry."
"Don't be, Amaunet. We're the same." I pull her in close and kiss the top of her head. "My IQ is 140, and I have never been good at explaining what I'm feeling. Your parents explained to me about your emotions. I actually understand how you're feeling most of the time. I just want to tell you, you never have to be sorry for how you react to things, because the two of us, we'll never react to things the way everyone else does. It's why we work so well together." I tell her.
"Yeah, we really do work well together." She whispers, and then asks "What is your dominate emotion?"
"Anger usually." I say. "I'm mad mostly at my mother for abandoning me and my father, but I also am mad at a few other people who aren't nearly so important."
"Mine is sadness." She says. "My mother wouldn't understand because she's so...happy all of the time. My father understands me better than she does. My mother thinks I just want all of the attention on me, but my father thinks differently. He gives me nearly all of his attention, because not matter what, his love for me stands above all else. For my mother, work comes first."
"You know, it's strange that neither of us are close to our mother's. To think our mother's carried us for 9 months, and yet, somehow, we're nothing like them." I say, still holding her close.
"It really is strange. While I'm close to my father, I still feel uncomfortably separate from him. Like, I know he loves me, but part of me always asks, why? I may have a high IQ, but I'm nothing special. I'm fairly ordinary....except for getting into trouble so often, and my near death experiences and..."She trails off.
"The fact that you can read the inscription on the casket, as well as speak Ancient Egyptian."I answer for her. "And about the nothing special part. You are special. To me." I tell her, and the look on her face softens and her eyes are bright. She gives me a small smile.
"You're the first one to think I'm special without the high IQ." Amaunet replies. "I'm happy I came back here." Her smile gets bigger, and tears fill her eyes, and I pull her even closer, hugging her as tightly as possible without hurting her arm. "I meant it when I said I love you." She whispers to me.
"And I meant it when I said I love you too." I kiss her lips carefully, gently, and then pull back. The sun had gone down, and the moon was peaking through the clouds, stars sprinkled across the sky, twinkling and shining above.
"We should head back." Amaunet says. I nod, and we stand up, and I take her hand immediately. We walk closely and she says "So, my parents told you?"
"They thought I should know." Is all I say.
"I agree." She says. "You should know what you're getting yourself into, Alistair Gray." She says my full name, and I smile down at her.
"I think I know just what I'm getting myself into Amaunet Ra." I say her full name, loving the way it easily rolls off my tongue. "And I like what I'm getting myself into."
She giggles, and we walk back the rest of the way in a comfortable silence. Back at the flat, I say good night to her parents, then her, and am happy when she kisses me gently goodnight, then I get into my car, and drive to my flat, where I go right to bed, exausted.