It was late afternoon, the streets were getting emptier, and I didn’t see anyone I knew, anyone who could have helped or reassured me.
I walked by the Blue Notebook bookshop like a zombie. They were still there, in the window, The Curse of Old Haven and The Merlin Conspiracy, those two terrific books with enticing titles who had been taunting me for weeks, but that day I paid no attention to them.
My steps took me – not really by chance, no doubt – to the local library. I vaguely thought I would be welcome there. Miss Martin, the pretty librarian always ready to help someone who needed it, would listen to me and give me advice… But luck had definitely deserted me. On the locked door, a pinned paper said:
CLOSED ALL DAY
It took me a few seconds to digest the information. Then I understood that my dear library, my favourite place in the world, had also decided to treat me as a stranger.
To make matters worse, it started to rain violently, curse those summer showers. In the time it took for me to cross the street to find refuge under a porch, the flood had transformed me into a half-sponge, half-human entity with heavy shapeless feet (because – don’t forget – I was still wearing my slippers).
I waited for the storm to pass, shivering while my teeth chattered. I wiped my glasses without thinking and I suddenly realised:
My little sister Julie.
What if the same thing had happened to her?
Okay, she had nothing to worry about with my mother, because she had mentioned Julie’s name, and therefore seemed to remember she had a daughter. But with my father, that was different…
I took off like a rocket towards the house, without waiting to make sure that I had the courage to do it. I took the quickest way – I knew the pedestrian neighbourhood like the back of my hand –, running into one or two grandfathers who didn’t get out of the way quickly enough (it’s not right, but that’s how it is). I threw some Sorry ma’ams and Excuse-me sirs as I pounded the pavement – Squish! Squish! – in a cavalcade of disgusting suction noises.
(Go to PART 6)