A LONG WAY FROM HOME
I love barbecues, said Luka as he prodded the sausages that were sizzling in front of him.
Yeah - all that burnt or undercooked meat and the way the smell of smoke sticks with you for days afterwards, said Adele handing him a bottle of beer. You just can't beat it!
It was the middle of August - over two months since Luka had kissed Adele in his car. Nothing more had been said about the kiss, but Luka and Adele had become good friends and they were standing in Adele's back garden enjoying the summer weather.
The day was a big event for Adele - it had been her first day working at her new school. After a few moments of Luka reassuring Adele that the meat was cooked and safe to eat they took their food up to the porch, sat down in the evening sun and Adele began to tell Luka of her day.
It started off well enough - I was early and had a chance to meet some of the other staff who were all very nice. Then the head teacher showed me to my classroom which was also very nice - until I sat down and got a ladder in my tights.
Adele noticed the confused look she received from Luka at the mention of having a ladder in her tights so she explained the concept to him before continuing.
Anyway - now that I think about it - everything about the day was pretty much perfect. She paused.
So what was the problem? asked Luka.
The kids, Adele said simply. I've never met a group of kids who were so unenthusiastic and indifferent. Nobody seemed interested in a word I had to say - and getting them to speak was like drawing blood from a stone. I was really positive about starting there but if I had the chance never to go back, I would take it in an instant!
Adele took a bite of her food and chewed thoughtfully.
It's not like they're think or anything - and this is a fee-paying school so there are no problems with guns or any of the things you see on TV - so I guess it's just me that they dislike, Adele's eyes welled up with tears. Luka leaned over and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. She rested her head on his chest and sniffed.
I guess this has made me think about the kids I've left behind in Scotland. They weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they were funny and enthusiastic and they cared - about their work, their school, their classmates - even me! Adele sniffed again. I was a good teacher with them - I even made them enjoy Shakespeare! Their exam results came out today, I wasn't there to give them a hug of congratulations or consolation and I should have been there! What if I never get through to these new kids? It'll be a wasted year for all concerned and I'd hate that to happen.
Luka stroked her hair and smiled to himself.
Well, in my expert knowledge of everything - I'd say this was a classic case of homesickness, he told her.
Adele sat up and looked at him.
Trust me! I'm a doctor!
Adele laughed, wiped her eyes and took a deep breath,Do you want another drink?
Adele stood up and went inside her house leaving Luka to sit and survey her garden. It made him think of Ana - if she was still alive she would have turned 27 the next day. He slipped into thoughts of her and how she would be if she were still alive, what present he might have bought her God - he missed her.
Luka was so deep in thought that he didn't hear Adele calling his name. She was leaning out of the kitchen window shouting on him but he made no response and continued to stare ahead. Adele gave up trying to get his attention and headed back out to the garden.
Luka? she said as she took her seat next to him. I've been calling you for ages.
Luka snapped out of his thoughts of Ana and looked at her. There were tears in his eyes.
Oh, sor he began.
Luka? What's wrong? Adele asked, cutting him off.
He didn't say anything for a while before he sat back in the chair and sighed. Looking straight ahead he said, It would be Ana's 27th birthday tomorrow?
Adele contemplated what he told her before asking who Ana was.
My wife. She was my wife.
A thousand thoughts ran simultaneously through Adele's head. She had never seen Luka wear a wedding ring - maybe he just didn't wear one. Was he still married? She had never seen any signs of that and after all, he had said Ana was his wife - past tense. Were they divorced? Separated?
She she was killed in the war, almost four years ago, he told Adele. He didn't look at her - he just stared straight ahead, but she saw the tears rolling down his face. Then - without flinching or even showing anymore emotion - Luka told Adele about his family. She sat and listened trying to take in what he was telling her.
Luka was brief in his story, not going into any detail - scared of dragging up too much of the past. When he finished, he and Adele sat in silence. The sun was setting, casting a rosy glow over the garden. It couldn't have been more different to the way Luka was feeling. The silence was uncomfortable until Adele broke it.
Oh god Luka - I had no idea.
Luka only nodded but Adele leant over and, despite being so much smaller than him, she wrapped her arms around him; somehow trying to protect him from the things in his past that were hurting him so much. When she did, Luka felt it work slightly - he felt better, safer, and happier than he had in a long time.
I feel safe, I feel warm
When you're here, and I do no wrong.
I am cured, when I'm by your side
I'm alright, I'm alright.
I am safe, when I am with you
And I feel warm - like you want me to.
I am cured, when I'm by your side
To be continued
Lyrics from Careful Where You Stand by Coldplay
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