This is the third part of a fiction serial, in 727 words.
Roger waited until the lunch break to catch up with Philippa Moore. She taught Emily Geography, and he asked her the same question, as she nibbled a sandwich in the staff room.
“She certainly has a grasp beyond the rest of her class. Most of the others couldn’t point to England on a world map, and they have yet to understand anything much about natural geological formations, and the oceans. Then again, she lived abroad, didn’t she?” She returned to her sandwich, dismissing him by turning away.
So Emily was good at everything. Was that even possible? He had heard about kids being amazing in one subject, and musical prodigies were famous too, like Mozart. But every subject? He still had to cover the rest of course. Science, Art, Religious Education, Physical Education, and German Language. But first he wanted to check something.
Re-reading her homework, Roger could not find any spelling mistakes. Even with the more difficult technical words she had used to describe building techniques, and some of the tools involved. Yet Tom Morgan had talked about her bad spelling in English homework, so that confused him. And now this mention of living abroad, he wanted to find out more.
After the end of the school day, he had handed back the homework before his form left. The decision to give Emily an ‘A’ had been easy enough, but he had resisted adding a + to that. In the school administration office, he caught the eye of Delia Simmons before she went home. She was the school secretary, and had been there ever since the school had opened. She knew everything, and Roger knew from past encounters that she also liked him.
“What can I do for you, Roger? We don’t often see you in here?” He told her that he was going to need to contact the parents of a girl in his form, Emily Hartmann, and asked for their address and phone number. Delia didn’t even need to check the record card. “Oh, she doesn’t have parents, she has a legal guardian. I remember them coming in to the headmaster’s office for the interview. It was all explained. She had been living in America, her parents died in an accident, and a business associate had been named as her guardian. He had to travel here on business, so she started school here this term. Hang on, I will get you the details”.
Plucking the card from one of the file drawers, Delia returned with a smile. “Lakeside Drive, a very swanky address. I think there are only four or five houses down there. It’s a private road, a very posh area indeed. The houses there are worth a small fortune, Roger. Yes, here is the guardian’s name, a mister Riku Yamada. He’s an oriental-looking gentleman, but speaks perfect English with an American accent. He was very friendly too. Shall I write it down for you?”
He knew that Delia had been widowed at a young age, and was at least ten years older than him. She had made no secret of her attraction to him, although he had never encouaged her. At the staff Christmas dinner the previous year, she had saved the seat next to her, waving at him as he walked in. Then she had scolded him for not dressing up, and wearing the same suit he so often wore to school. She was too pushy for his liking.
Thanking her for the information, he departed hurriedly, before she had the chance to suggest they go for an after work drink sometime. She had tried that on two previous occasions. The first time he had invented a dental appointment, the second a visiting aunt.
Now he was running out of excuses.
At home that evening, Roger started to take some notes. There was something niggling him about Emily. A girl genius who had just turned up in a south London suburb at the age of eleven, with a Japanese guardian, and some story about dead parents in America. Emily had no trace of an American accent, and used no American terms or phrases. If she had lived there and gone to school there, how could that be? And she must surely have been born in Britain, to qualify for a state school education free of charge.
It was giving him a headache.