The water had to boil twice by the time Mr. Hawtrey reached the kitchen to make the tea.
Richard slipped his boots off and got the spoons from the drawer, waiting on Mr. Hawtrey to pour the tea.
– So, hiding in the shed,huh? Haven’t you been cold?
– Not really, Mr. Hawtrey. Yesterday I went back home for some blankets, and the garden chairs still have pillows.
– Can I ask why haven’t you been sleeping at home?
– Oh, but I do! Mum always goes and says goodnight and I didn’t want her upset. It’s just early in the morning I come here. I like to see the stars fade, you see? But it is so early I feel like a nap afterwards.
– What about school, shouldn’t you be there?
– I know but Howie said I shouldn’t go.
– Howie? Is he a friend from school?
– No, no. My mum says calls him an imaginary friend.
– Ah, I see.
Mr. Hawtrey always wondered about imaginary friends. He never had one and found it quite interesting that people would fish out people or animals out of their imagination to keep them company. Kids had books and computers and dolls. Why not play with that? Still, he liked Richard and he’s funny ideas. And also, it had been so long since he had been a child, that the mechanics fascinated him.
– What does Howie say?
– Well, he wants to play with me all the time. I like playing.
– Don’t you like learning? Or playing with our kids?
– I do and I am going back. But he really did not want me to go, so I said: A few days and then back to school. He was not very happy but……
Mr. Hawtrey disconnected for a bit. He enjoyed listening to Richard go on about his life. It allowed him to think about his. He remembered another boy, another time telling him stories. He should definitely call Jonah to see how he was.
– Anyway Mr. Hawtrey, thank you for the tea. My mum will be worried now.
– Yes, yes off course. Tell her I say hello. And make sure you go to school. Archie gets very impatient when he doesn’t know what is happening.
Richard went his way and Mr. Hawtrey got back to his newspaper. He was a man of habits, after all, and a half read newspaper was not something he liked.
But Mr. Hawtrey could not take Jonah out of his mind. Yes it had been years since they last spoke. Maybe he should write him a letter. He might have kids by now, Mr. Hawtrey thought as he put the newspaper finally down. ‘I shall go and see him!’
Jonah had been one of Mr. Hawtrey’s students years and years ago. Brilliant little kid he was. And curious too. As he remembers, Jonah went to work in IT somewhere. He was sure he had his number somewhere – ‘Well, I won’t find it sitting down, will I Archibald?’
Any interest of knowing what Mr. Hawtrey wants with Jonah?