Chapter 1 / Two Years Later
Ik wil even laten weten dat het een tijdje kan duren voordat ik weer activeer. We gaan momenteel door een moeilijke periode. Mijn opa werd vorig jaar gediagnosticeerd met leukemie. Die leek enkele weken geleden terug onder controle te zijn, maar vandaag, tijdens de bloedcontrole, vertelden ze ons dat hij nu myelodysplasie heeft. Nu beginnen we dus aan een lange weg van het zoeken naar een stamceldonor en daarna een herstel in quarantaine. Ik probeer mijn dagelijkse ritme te behouden en ga dus ook zeker proberen om twee keer in een week te activeren.
This wasn’t were I wanted to be. I should be sitting next to the pool with a nice cold drink and my chatty sister talking my ears off. Instead, it was the hottest day before the summer and I was standing in Betty’s bakery, pulling freshly baked muffins out of the red-hot oven. The smell of chocolate and caramel filled the room and I gave a small smile when I noticed how perfect their shape was. I set them down to cool off and put another batch of muffins into the oven.
‘Katherine?’ Betty’s voice came from the shop, ‘how are those muffins coming along?’
‘They’re just out of the oven, Betty,’ I called back as I sprinkled some flour on the table and pulled the towel from the dough bowl, ‘I’ll decorate them when they’ve cooled off.’
‘Leave them, I’ll do it. Don’t you need to go?’
I looked up at the clock and stared in shock. I threw the towel on the bowl again, wiped my hands on my apron, grabbed my bag and hurried through the shop.
‘See you tomorrow, Betty!’ I slipped past the counter.
‘Wait!’ Betty’s voice made me come to a stop, ‘you forgot you apron again. And take some of these, for tonight. You have to eat more!’
‘I’m fine, Betty!’ I said, but I took the macaroons anyway, ‘thank you. See you tomorrow!’
I ran out of the bakery, crossed the bridge that was built over the Bybrook river and turned left, following the path up to the Castle Combe Primary school. I arrived just in time: I skidded to a halt when the bell rang and only moments later, the kids started streaming out of the building.
‘Katherine!’ Carrie’s voice reached my ears and I smiled. I watch as the little girl pushed through the crowd. She had chestnut brown hair that lay on her shoulders like a waterfall flowing mildly. From under her bangs shone eyes the colour of a dazzling emerald green. They were the ones that seemed to draw you into a daze, not letting you go. Below them was a freckled nose and a warm smile with a hint of shyness.
I picked the little girl up and threw her in the air. Carrie threw her head back and giggled like only a young child could, that infectious kind of laugh that lit up her eyes. For Carrie, happiness was simple. It was hugging her mama and playing ‘let’s pretend’ and uplifting stories at bedtime.
It wasn’t like that for Christian. The boy was perfection on the outside: his hair was the colour of dark roasted beans, his skin a smooth, brown umber. He had chubby cheeks and I loved how they dimpled when he smiled. His eyes were bold, black and yet they carried this stubborn hatred of the entire world. It broke my heart to see him standing there, slumped against the wall.
‘Let’s go and pick up your brother,’ I said, putting the little girl on the ground and taking her hand. ‘Christian! Are you coming?’
The boy rolled his eyes, grabbed his bag and slung it over his shoulders. He silently came our way, eyes on the ground. Carrie threw herself at him, almost knocking him to the ground, but he held his ground. A hint of a smile came to his lips, but it didn’t last long. He pushed his sister away, took her hand and started walking home. I walked behind them, like I always did, listening to Carrie blabbering and keeping an eye out.
We did their homework, played some games and even went to swim in the river. Then I gave them a bath and put them in bed.
‘Tell us a story?’ Carrie asked as she climbed into bed. I nodded and even Christian, who just passed the doorway, came inside and nestled on the bed.
‘The one about the wizards,’ he said. And so, I told them about my life before I came to Castle Combe.