- زمان مطالعه 16 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
Christopher comes to stay
I sit very still waiting for Brad to kiss me. But it doesn’t happen. I wait a little longer.
‘Brad?’ I whisper softly, then I look at him. And I realise he’s fallen asleep.
And that, I’m afraid to have to tell you, is as romantic as the evening gets. I sit there until I’m forced to move because my shoulder hurts (Brad’s arm is very heavy). When I do move, Brad makes a very unromantic noise through his nose and wakes up.
‘What?’ he says. ‘What’s the matter? Oh, was I asleep?’ He takes his arm away from my shoulder and yawns. ‘Sorry. It’s been a really tiring day, don’t you think? I’m going to go to bed. The guest bedroom is on the right at the top of the stairs when you’re ready. There’s a clean towel in the bathroom, and a spare toothbrush. See you in the morning.’
‘Good night…’ I reply as he leaves the room.
I sit there miserably, listening to him go up the stairs, and then finally I take the dirty plates to the kitchen and go upstairs myself. I don’t expect to sleep very well. I’m far too unhappy. Nothing I try to do turns out right. Nothing. I’m useless.
Old. Fat. Foolish. Jealous. And now useless too.
I sigh, lying there in the darkness, knowing that Brad is asleep in the next room. At least he said I was pretty. He didn’t have to say that. And he does look at me in that special way.
Perhaps I just haven’t been obvious enough. Perhaps he isn’t sure about how I feel. Maybe I just need to simply tell him how I feel about him instead of trying to show him by cooking meals. Especially if the meal is going to be such a disaster.
Yes, it would be much simpler to just tell Brad how I feel. OK, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll tell him. Tomorrow.
When I wake up next morning, I’m not sure where I am at first. I lie there for a while, looking around me, and then I remember. Hill View House! Brad! Oh no. Today I’m going to tell him how I feel about him!
Suddenly feeling nervous, I lie back against the pillows, trying to imagine it. Perhaps he’ll be painting in the studio and I’ll walk in behind him and tell him. No, that’s not a good idea. He’ll get annoyed if he’s in the middle of painting. Well then, perhaps we’ll go for a walk together if it’s stopped raining. Yes, that’s a much better idea.
Except that… from today I no longer work for Brad! Perhaps he’ll be taking me straight back to Brighton! Well, if he does that, I’ll just have to tell him in the car. Although if I tell him I’m in love with him as we’re driving along, we might have an accident…
Suddenly I hear voices downstairs in the hall. Brad is already up, and by the sound of it, he’s got a visitor.
‘You can’t do this to me!’ I hear him say. ‘I won’t be able to manage!’
‘Brad, pleased The woman speaking to him sounds upset, and I quickly get out of bed and move closer to the door to listen.
‘I wouldn’t ask you if this wasn’t a crisis,’ says the woman. ‘Don’t you see how serious this could be?’
Who is she? Definitely not Tania. Thank goodness.
After a long pause, I hear Brad groan. ‘Oh, all right,’ he agrees at last, ‘but only for three nights, OK?’
Now the woman sounds happy. ‘Oh, thank you, Brad!’ she says. ‘Thank you! Bye, darling, I’ll be back for you in a few days. Be good. And don’t forget, it will soon be Christmas!’
A door opens and closes, and seconds later I hear a car driving away. Desperate now to know what’s happening, I quickly get dressed.
As soon as I’m ready, I leave the bedroom and look down the stairs. There is Brad, standing in the hall. And standing beside him is a little boy.
They both look up at me. I look down at them. For a moment nobody says anything. To be honest, I’m a little shocked. You see, the boy, who looks about six years old, is clearly Brad’s son. Even from here I can tell he has the same black hair and dark eyes as Brad. Not only that, but the shape of their faces looks almost the same.
Is Brad divorced?
I go slowly downstairs and as I get nearer I can see the boy looks unhappy. In fact, he looks as if he might be about to cry.
‘Hello,’ I say, trying to be cheerful. ‘I’m Alex. Who are you?’
‘Christopher,’ he says very quietly.
‘He’s my sister’s son,’ Brad tells me, and then he sees my face. Alex, you surely didn’t think…? Goodness, no!’ Brad’s voice is filled with horror at the thought of Christopher being his son. ‘No, he’s my nephew. My sister’s marriage is in trouble so she wants to leave the boy with me for a few days. I told her it wasn’t a good time, but-‘
‘Shh!’ I say quickly, looking at the boy. ‘He can hear you!’
And sure enough, tears are beginning to roll down the little boy’s face.
‘I’m sorry,’ Brad says crossly, ‘but it isn’t a good time. There’s this forgery business and the newspapers. I don’t even know what I’m going to do about Arthur Grant’s cancelled exhibition.’
The gallery, the gallery, the gallery! Sometimes I think that’s all Brad thinks about.
‘Some things are more important than cancelled exhibitions!’ I say firmly, taking the child’s cold little hand in mine and leading him towards the kitchen. ‘Come on, Christopher, let’s make you a cup of hot chocolate.’
‘Women!’ shouts Brad after me. ‘You’re all impossible!’
I want to shout something back at him, but I don’t because of Christopher. Honestly, how can Brad be so insensitive? I’m really surprised at him. The poor child must be feeling really frightened and alone.
‘Daddy shouts too,’ Christopher says as I bend down to take his coat off, and his little face is so sad I almost feel like crying myself.
‘People get cross sometimes,’ I say. ‘It makes them say things they don’t really mean.’ Christopher takes the tissue I offer him, uses it, then hands it back to me. ‘That’s better,’ I say. ‘Now, would you like a cup of hot chocolate?’
‘Yes, please,’ says Brad, appearing through the doorway.
‘You can make your own drink,’ I tell him, but I can already feel my anger leaving me. He’s looking at me again.
‘Look,’ he sighs, ‘I’m sorry, OK? I’m sorry, Christopher. You’re very welcome here, of course. I’ve just got a few things I’m worried about at the moment, that’s all. I didn’t mean to shout.’ He smiles at both of us, and Christopher smiles back.
I don’t want that smile to work on me. I still feel angry with Brad. Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. When Brad smiles like that I just melt. He has such an attractive smile, you see. It has as much effect as his stare. I can’t imagine why some film director hasn’t discovered him and made him into a movie star.
‘Why don’t I make us all a cup of hot chocolate?’ he suggests. ‘You and Christopher can go into the living room. It’s nice and warm in there.’
It’s impossible for me to stay angry with Brad for long. I smile back. ‘All right,’ I say. ‘Come on, Christopher.’
The little boy holds my hand. ‘Can Uncle Brad make nice hot chocolate?’ he asks doubtfully as we leave the kitchen, and I smile.
‘I’m not sure, Christopher,’ I say, but Brad shouts after us.
‘Excuse me, but I make the best hot chocolate in the south of England!’
Christopher and I look at each other and start to laugh, but actually, when it arrives, the hot chocolate is good.
‘You see?’ Brad says, and I smile at him.
‘OK, I agree. You’re a hot chocolate expert.’
‘Can you cook pizza?’ Christopher asks, and Brad frowns.
‘Not without a little help from a supermarket. Speaking of which…’
‘Well, for reasons I won’t mention, there isn’t any food in the house, so someone needs to go shopping.’
‘Oh,’ I say, but Christopher seems to have stronger opinions about it.
‘I don’t want to go shopping!’ he objects. ‘I don’t want to go shopping!’
Brad sighs. ‘Christopher,’ he says, ‘please be a good boy.’
‘I’ll stay here with him while you go to the supermarket if you like,’ I offer. ‘We can play some games, can’t we, Christopher?’
‘You do seem good with children,’ Brad says as Christopher nods enthusiastically. ‘So good, in fact, that I wonder…’ Brad coughs a little. He seems almost embarrassed. ‘What?’
‘Well,’ Brad sighs, ‘I agreed to have the boy to stay for three nights. I know I said last night that your job finished from today, but I wonder if you’d work for another couple of days to help me to look after him?’
‘Please, Alex! Please, Alex! Please!’ Christopher is so excited he starts to jump up and down. Unfortunately he’s stall holding his cup of hot chocolate. Very soon the pale green carpet is decorated with an interesting brown pattern.
Brad covers his face with his hands.
‘Sorry, Uncle Brad,’ Christopher says very quietly, looking at the mess on the floor.
‘You’d better buy something to clean the carpet with while you’re in Lewes,’ I say.
‘Yes,’ Brad groans, and then he looks at me. ‘Please say you’ll stay, Alex,’ he says, sounding a lot like his nephew.
For a moment I consider asking Brad why he doesn’t ask Tania to look after Christopher. But I have to admit that it does feel good to have him begging me for something. Anyway, I already like the little boy. And it will give me more time to tell Brad how I feel about him. As well as two more nights alone with him, after Christopher has gone to bed. There can’t be quiz shows on television every night, surely?
So I nod my head. ‘OK,’ I agree. ‘I’ll stay.’ And this time when Christopher starts to jump up and down I almost expect Brad to join in, he looks so happy.
‘Excellent!’ He says, standing up. ‘I’ll go and get that pizza then.’
Five minutes after Brad has left, it starts to rain again. Christopher and I go upstairs to look out of the studio window. Firle Beacon has disappeared once more. The rain is like rain in a jungle.
Poor Brad! I imagine him driving along the narrow country roads through the rain in a bad mood. And I very much doubt whether he’s got an umbrella with him.
I notice Christopher is very quiet. ‘Are you OK?’ I ask him, wondering if he’s afraid, or whether he’s thinking about his mother and father.
He nods. ‘Will there be a storm?’ he asks, and I shake my head.
‘No, I don’t think so. Look. It’s already getting brighter. There’s some blue sky over there.’
We sit close together, looking out at the view, and suddenly I realise I’m feeling really happy. Brad’s right, I am good with children. I understand them. Perhaps it’s because I’m always making mistakes and getting into trouble myself!
‘Mummy says Auntie Tania isn’t very nice,’ Christopher says suddenly and instantly I smile. I like this little boy more and more by the minute!
Christopher nods. ‘Auntie Tania told me a story once,’ he says. ‘It was stupid and boring. Can you tell good stories?’
Can I tell good stories? Of course I can tell good stories! I’m about to write a bestselling book!
‘What would you like a story about?’
‘OK then. Give me a minute to think of one.’ But it takes me less than a minute. Within seconds I’m telling Christopher a story about a girl and a boy who have very strange parents. Parents who give them earth names: Willow and Moon. Yes, I know, it sounds familiar. Well, I’ve done a lot of reading about writing stories, even if I haven’t written any yet. The advice is always to start by writing about something you know about. That’s all I’m doing. Well, at first, but I make the next bit up. In the story I’m telling Christopher the children become their earth names when they go to sleep at night: the girl becomes a willow tree, and the boy becomes the moon.
Anyway, Christopher seems to like it. He’s listening with so much attention he doesn’t even notice when the blue sky disappears and the skies grow dark again.
Before my story about the children’s adventures is finished, a storm has begun and I can hear thunder in the distance.
‘I want to have an earth name!’ Christopher announces. ‘I know, I’ll be… Forest!’
‘That’s a nice name.’ I smile, and Christopher smiles back at me.
‘Your stories are much better than Auntie Tania’s,’ he says. ‘Are you Uncle Brad’s girlfriend now?’
Just at that moment, Brad appears at the studio door with very wet hair. He looks at me across the room. My face goes red.
‘Oh, hello,’ I say. ‘We didn’t hear you come back.’
‘Obviously not,’ he says. ‘Aren’t you going to answer Christopher’s question?’
‘Yes, of course I am. No, Christopher, I… just work for your Uncle Brad. At least, I do for the next two days.’
Christopher (Forest) seems to have no idea at all that he is embarrassing me. ‘Well,’ he says, ‘I wish you were his girlfriend, then you could tell me stories all the time!’
Brad laughs. ‘Now there’s a thought,’ he says.
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