Chapter Three: Signs of Something Strange
Three weeks had passed since school started. So far Adelaide had managed to prove she was one of the biggest nerds in the town. She spent all her time in school doing the work and paying attention to the lessons. In her spare time she does homework and readings. It had come apparent that she would not be making friends with the 'popular' crowd in Nesville. She hadn't succeeded in making any friends besides Jason since arriving. And she was kind of okay with that. The people in Nesville were weird. Adelaide found most of them to be very odd. Even her own family was starting to turn a little odd from living there.
It was early afternoon on a Sunday, Adelaide was, as usual, sitting at the end of the couch reading. At this point she had finished the class novel and moved onto something fun. It truly mystified her mother that anyone could read for hours but she had learned to accept her daughter's differences. The book Adelaide currently read was not a novel. It was a book about tales of Princesses across the world such as Marie Antoinette and Anastasia. Adelaide wasn't picky about what she read.
The girl turned the page and shifted herself in her seat for comfort. She was so engrossed in the story of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor that nothing phased her. She didn't hear the knock on the door. She made no notion that her younger brother had left with his friends. She didn't even hear the whirl of the blender for her mother's daily smoothie or note the fresh scent of strawberry in the air.
Time seemed to stand still for Adelaide when she fell into a book. She never wore a watch thus when she finished reading it always surprised her how late in the day it was. Like normal, she finished the section in her book and was shocked to learn it was late afternoon. She was even more enticed as to find Jason sitting on her couch with his English books watching her.
"How long have you been there?"
"Long enough, reading again?" he noted the textbook.
"Don't you ever get sick of staring at those old books?"
"Don't you ever get sick of staring at video games you've beaten at least five times?"
"There are multiple quests"
"There's a free library full of books I haven't read yet"
"Point made, but don't you take a break or get bored?"
"How could I? Listen to this and just let your imagination take control"
With a grunt Jason sat back and closed his eyes. Adelaide cleared her throat and made herself comfortable on the suede brown couch again. She began to read outloud to Jason and hoped he'd see her point.
"Tears filled Antoinette's pale blue eyes. The Countess of Brandeiss was tying her hair back much too tightly. Antoinette didn't blame her governess though. It was Mama who expected her to look her best at all times. Not a blonde hair could be out of place for the concert that afternoon.
"The seven year old-
"Can't you see it?" Adelaide questioned. "The glorious bedroom in a palace. A little girl having her hair done and wearing a beautiful gown..."
"Boring. Come on Adelaide, it's about dead people"
"Would you like to be referred to as a dead person?"
"Well, no but-
"So be respectful of the dead"
Silence passed between them for a moment. Neither Jason or Adelaide knew exactly what to say or do. This was their first disagreement since becoming friends. Jason shifted on the couch. Adelaide set her book down on the coffee table. The table was made of dark wood with a glass top so naturally coasters were used when drinking in the living room.
"So, what was your original reason for coming over?" Adelaide questioned him.
"I'm not letting you copy my work again. Last time you go caught and we had to clean chalk brushes for three days"
"I just don't understand it" Jason pleaded.
"You would if you'd just read the book"
"I did read the book but all the symbolism is crap and confusing the hell outta me"
"Everything from the last time you explained it to me"
"That was just last week"
"All right, last week we covered, the conch shell and Piggy's glasses I think"
"And the fire"
"And the fire, do you remember what they represented?"
"After this you have to help me with math, deal?"
Adelaide sat closer to Jason on the couch and pulled his books to her. She handed him the notebook and pen then began to explain the symbols of the book. They had already covered the conch shell, the symbol of civilization, Piggy's glasses, the symbol of science and intelligence, and the signal fire, which represents the measurement of the boys' descent from civilized to savagery.
The next bit of symbolism their teacher was looking for was based on the characters themselves. She explained to him that Ralph represented order and leadership and civilization as he was the one trying to keep the boys together to survive. Piggy represented the science and intelligence in civilization. Jack was savagery and held a desire for power. Simon was natural human goodness and Roger was brutality and blood lust. Each of them represented parts of society and political power when it came to the younger boys on the island.
It was hard for Adelaide to understand why Jason couldn't see what was so obvious to her. She often had to fight the frustration she felt when Jason didn't get it. She tried to stay patient and tried to explain it in simpler terms for him but he kept questioning how she knew this. It was hard for her to explain how she knew it and that was the frustrating part.
Within an hour they had moved on to Math. Adelaide had explained English as best she could and was finished with trying to help him. Jason was just as frustrated trying to teach her the Math. She could barely understand simple algebra and now they were working on the COS Sign Law and she was lost. Jason wasn't patient either. He couldn't explain things in different ways to help her understand and his explanations were more confusing than their teacher's examples. Math just wasn't her strong suit, it never had been and never will be. Luckily when she was ready to give up her mother saved her the hassle of arguing with him about it.
"Dinner will be ready soon, will you be joining us Jason?"
"No thank you Mrs. Buchanan, Dad's ordering pizza and wings tonight"
"Very well, Adelaide see him to the door and come set the table please"
Jason picked up his English books. Adelaide followed him to the door and said good bye. She went to the kitchen after to set the table. It smelled of tender roast beef and gooey cinnamon buns. Her mother must have been busy though since moving to Nesville Lily had become quite the housewife. Every Sunday was family dinner.
Adelaide got the silver cutlery with the rose handles out of the drawer and placed them around the wooden table. She took the coral plates with the flowers around the outer edge and set them down too. Then she grabbed the crystal balled glasses and set them. Her mother always insisted on nice dishes because one never knew who'd show up for dinner.
"Just three dear" her mother stated.
"But dad never works on Sundays" Adelaide protested.
"Honestly Adelaide" Lily removed the set up for her brother.
"Where is James?"
"Oh, he is having dinner at his friend's place tonight. He'll be home later"
Adelaide sighed. Her mother was always forgetting she had a son lately. It was the weirdest thing. Adelaide knew that her mother wasn't exactly interested in having children or raising children and that James and herself were a nuisance to Lily Buchanan's life but she had never forgotten she had kids. It was strange but Adelaide tried her best to ignore the feeling in her gut while she ate. She just told herself it was the roast beef gravy. She wasn't a gravy person after all.
The evening was quiet. After dinner her father watched sports in the living room. Her mother went out to play bingo with some girlfriends and Adelaide was assigned dish duty. She turned on the radio by the sink to drown out the television and to ease her mind a little. As much as she tried to ignore it she felt weird about her mother not knowing who James was, even briefly. She couldn't even imagine what it would be like to forget her child at any point in her life should she ever have children.
Adelaide tried hard not to think about what had happened just before supper. She did the dishes and hummed along with the music on the radio. She washed, dried and put them away. It took almost forty five minutes to clean up the kitchen. After that she spread her books out on the table and continued to work on the math homework Jason had tried helping her with. She knew it was frivolous to try and figure it out but she needed to keep her mind off her worries.
At nine o'clock Adelaide finally closed her book and went into the living room. Her father was snoring in his recliner with his tea cold beside him. Adelaide turned the television off. It didn't wake her dad as it normally would. She shrugged and checked the coat room but her brother wasn't back yet. She went back into the living room to wake her dad. She shook him a few times before he woke.
"Adelaide what is it?" Gerald asked her.
"Where is James?"
"James? He's umm...I don't know, didn't your mother tell you where he was?"
"She said he was at a friend's place"
"Oh...well, go get his address book and we'll call his friends" Gerald stated.
So Adelaide obeyed though she knew James never kept his books updated. She climbed the stairs and took a left down the narrow hallway. Her brother's room was directly across from her parent's room. Adelaide turned the knob and went inside. The room was a mess with magazines and clothes all over the floor. The curtain was drawn so had it been daylight it would still be dark in there. The ninja turtle bed sheets were unmade and the pillows were on the floor. He Nintendo was skewed across the floor as well. Lying on the bed was the unmoving but breathing figure of her brother.
"James!" Adelaide almost shouted.
He stirred and looked at her with annoyance. His blonde hair was tousled and his cheeks were flushed from freckles and warmth. He looked like he had been sleeping for quite some time but Adelaide hadn't seen or heard him come in. She had been waiting and listening for him. How had he managed to sneak in.
"How did you get here?"
"How long have you been here?"
"What are you talking about?" James scowled.
"Mom said you were at a friend's place, I never saw or heard you come in"
"I came in the back door"
"I was in the kitchen"
"Not when I came in"
Adelaide sighed. "Forget it"
"O...K...sisters" James shook his head and went back to sleep.
Adelaide left his room and called down to her father that James had come in when they weren't paying attention. He grunted something she didn't catch. Adelaide decided it was probably time to get ready for bed herself and headed to her room.