“Lina, your turn. Lina?” Ms. Susan desperately trying to get the attention of Lina who had drifted into a deep day dream.
Lina was thinking about what life would be like as an adult, at least she wouldn’t have to go to school, and she could make her own decisions. Lina’s eyes lit up as she saw her mum waiting by the classroom door for an early pick up. “Grab your bag Lina, mummy’s here.” Ms Susan says forcing a smile, trying to keep calm. Lina and Ms Susan walk out together “Can I have a word?” She asked Lina’s mum, Hannah who at the moment is a mess. “I would love to, but now is not a good time.” Hannah agrees to have a quick chat after Ms Susan insists that it is important and suggests that Lina borrows a book from the library. Ms Susan, tall, thin, brown hair, and always wearing heels. She speaks to Hannah about Lina’s lack of concentration since her dad passed away. She explains that she used to be a very responsible student who would get excited about homework and tests and would strive on her educational success. Now Lina walks into class almost as though she is moping, she sits in her chair and doesn’t participate in class discussions. She hesitates to answer questions but used to jump out of her seat when there was such an opportunity. “Well, what do you expect? What do you want me to do?! She just lost her father, cut her some slack!” Frustrated. Upset. Helpless. Hannah did not know what else to say. “I’ve got to go.” On the car ride to the dentist, Hannah couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation she just had, not that she was surprised. It’s as if after her husband passed away, he took part of Lina with him. There was something about her, even at home she would mope around. “Mum!! Look what dad bought me, look, look” Linas face was glowing, her bright big hazel eyes almost popping out of their socket. Her dad had just bought her a dollhouse. A big one, with miniature furniture like she had always wanted. It was probably the happiest day of her life. Hannah was imagining an easier time. A time when she wasn’t run down from looking after a 9 year old who doesn’t show any interest in anything anymore and a toddler who is too small to understand what is happening. Lina has a 3 year old brother, Zack, typical toddler, has more energy than one can imagine. Zack is at child care today as it’s Wednesday. He also attends Monday and Friday so that Hannah can work. On the other two days, Hannah’s sister Sarah looks after him. As they arrive at the dentist, Lina tells her mum that she doesn’t want to go. “Please Lina, not now. Don’t do this. Come on, it’ll be quick. Just get it over and done with. I’ve taken a whole day off work just for this, come on”. Hannah pleads with Lina. At this point, Hannah is on the edge, about to breakdown from her lack of sleep and constantly being on her feet, even when she is sitting, her brain is active which means she does not get enough rest. The desperation in her mums eyes makes Lina feel a little guilty and so she agrees to go through with the appointment. “Thank you Lina, I love you.” Hannah exclaims with relief. As they wait for their turn, they sit in the waiting room in silence.
Pasta. Again? Lina thinks as the approaches the dinner table. But doesn’t share her frustration with her mother. Although Hannah has a feeling something is not quite right as says the expression on her daughters face. “What’s wrong hunny?” “Nothing”. Lina mopes taking the first spoonful. Lately Hannah has been too tired to cook anything other than Pasta, in slightly different ways as it’s the meal requiring the least effort. During the week she comes home about 5 p.m., she gets dinner ready, does some work, washes the kids, tidy’s up, and then fits in a few hours a sleep, if that. On the weekends she is usually running errands and cleaning but still manages to cook another quick and easy meal. Before her husband passed away, she was working part time, she had more energy as he used to help her with the household chores. The thing is Hannah used to love cooking, she enjoyed experimenting food and for her, there was nothing quite like the feeling when her husband gloated about the meal she had just cooked. For the past 8 months, it’s been mainly pasta, lasagne, pies, burgers. Quick and easy dinners. She felt as though eight months didn’t seem like it was enough time to get herself together when she spent the last 15 years with this person and pictured their life together until old age.
Once dinner was over, it was the usual. Hannah would wind down by lazing on the couch, watching tv and drinking her tea. Her son Zack would play with his toys in the lounge room right by her. Lina alone in her room, playing with her dollhouse gifted by her late father or drawing. Lina was a very talented drawer, and she would draw often, animals, scenery, people, fictional creatures created by her very own imagination. It was her escape, her time to wind down. Apart of her wanted to be on the couch next to her mum, cuddling up. But things felt different now, she felt far away from her mother. Their relationship was completely different now. They barely speak unless necessary. Hannah tries to reach out, she tells Lina often how much she loves her. But it didn’t matter to Lina, she felt confused about love. It’s almost as though she was distancing herself from her mum so that she wouldn’t have to go through that pain again.
The day of Lina’s fathers death was tragic. And the day of the funeral was harder. Seeing his face for the last time was the last thing Lina expected as a 9 year old. Although very mature for her age, Lina cried like a baby as any child would. Family members would always compliment Hannah on how her daughter is so strong, as they haven’t seen a meltdown since the funeral. But every night, Lina quietly cries herself to sleep, hoping that he’s just late from work, and so she would wait for her room door to open for him to kiss her goodnight. But every night she would fall asleep without a kiss on her forehead.
The next morning Hannah woke up just in time to get Lina and Zack ready. As usual, she had to nag Lina to get out of bed every 5 minutes. “Lina are you up?!” She shouted from her bedroom for what felt like the hundredth time. “Yes”. She murmured. Hannah dropped Zack off to her sisters’ house, dropped Hannah to school, then made her way to work. Once lunch time came around, Lina was near the playground sitting by herself, observing everyone whilst digging a stick into the ground. A boy in her class approached her, “Hi Lina, do you want to play tiggy with us?” “No thanks” she replied uninterested. The boy, Adam took his time thinking, trying to think of the right words to say, “How come you don’t play with us anymore?” “I don’t feel like it Adam”. “But you don’t play with anyone anymore, why are you so different?” “Don’t feel like it”. She said bluntly. Adam walked away and Lina sat there pondering on the conversation she just had. She walked up to her teacher Ms Susan, who was on yard duty. “Miss, why do people keep saying I’m different?” “What do you mean Lina?” Ms Susan asked concerned, yet somewhat excited that Lina may come out of her shell. “Well, people keep saying that I don’t play with them anymore. But, I don’t find it fun anymore, and I don’t really know why”. Lina seemed as though she was trying to understand herself and her own behaviors. “Lina, would you like to see Ms Sophie? Maybe she will be more of a help?” She asked, referring to the school counselor. “Not really, I just wanted to ask you if you think I am different.” “Different to what Lina?” “To what I used to be”. “Do you think you’re different Lina?” Lina pondered on that thought for a few seconds before she could answer, “I’m not sure”. Lina started to walk away, then something caught her attention, she stopped and stared. A girl in her classroom, Mary was sitting on a bench by herself eating her lunch. Although Lina slowly approached Mary, Mary jumped up in surprise. “You scared me” she said. “I’m sorry, didn’t mean to” Lina replied. Mary had a friend that she would always hang out with during school and Lina noticed that Mary was alone because this student was absent. “Where’s your friend?” Lina asked. “She changed schools” Mary replied. “How come?” “She moved houses” she answered again. “Whats with all the questions?” She asked. “I didn’t mean to bother you, I just wanted to know if you would like to be my new seating partner, now that you don’t have one?” Lina said. In their class, the students had a seating arrangement of 2 per table. Ms Susan was generally flexible and would allow the students to designate their own seat, unless of course they misbehaved. “Okay sure” Mary replied. When class started, Ms Susan was surprised to see the two sitting together, “Is this your new seat Lina?” She asked, Lina nodded “Just trying it out.” “Well then, let’s carry on” Ms Susan smiled. The next day, they sat together again and once it was lunch time, they had their lunch together. “So what happened to your dad?” Mary asked curiously. “He died.” Lina replied. “How?” Lina not feeling so comfortable, “Why does it matter?!” Lina stormed off and left Mary in shock, wondering what she said wrong. When the bell for class went off, Lina decided to sit somewhere else. When class had finished, Ms Susan asked Lina and Mary to stay back. She asked them why they changed seats as they both looked upset during the lesson. Ms Susan understood that Lina had boundaries, as young as she was, she had a mighty temper. Although she perceived Lina as someone mature for her age, she gently spoke with them and as forgiving as children are, they moved on and Lina decided to sit back next to Mary.
-Something a little different, I have one more chapter I have written but I’m really stuck about where I want to go with this. A lot of self-doubt eating at me. Let me know if you would like to read more of Lina.