I shivered, unsure how to reply.
After a few moments of silence, he repeated the question.
This time I shook my head slowly, and pulled my green sweater more tightly around myself, trying to hide my tank top (and, apparently overly dark, attention grabbing, bra).
"Is this her place of residence?"
Unable to speak, I nodded.
He waited a couple more seconds while I found my voice.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Azi Omsecb . . . from the foreign exchange program?"
I stared at him a moment, uncomprehending.
"I'm living with the Marks family for a year."
"You're supposed to be a girl," I whispered.
Azi raised an eyebrow (Was there some elective I missed out on here? Singular Eyebrow Raising 101? Or was it a male chromosome thing?).
"Well, seeing as I'm not . . ." He then turned a mega-watt smile on me.
I felt my knees turn to jelly.
"Why don't I take you inside?" I suggested.
"I'm really supposed to be here right now, but, if you stop by tomorrow, when I'm settled . . ."
"No!" I cut him off, laughing a bit hysterically."I'm Rayne Marks. Angela's daughter."
Azi's brown eyes widened, for less than a second before he smiled again.
"Of course you are."
"Mom!" I yelled, jiggling the doorknob.
For some reason, our doorknob doesn't turn. It jiggles. Like Jell-o . . . without the fruity goodness. Don't ask. Please. Today, the stupid door would not open. I jiggled, wiggled,
and even resorted to *gasp* turning, when Azi gently nudged my shoulder.
Sheepishly, I smiled and stepped to the side.
"It's a bit temperamental. My mom doesn't want to get a new one. I've tried to convince her other . . ." I cut off as the door easily popped open.
"Not so hard." Azi smiled. "It's cold."
"And this has what to do with my ability to open a door?" I asked.
He considered that for a second. "Nothing, I guess."
I smiled at the concerned look on his face. "Let's get you inside before you completely destroy my self-esteem."
The stricken look his features quickly adopted made me add, "That was a joke."
"Oh." He smiled again.
I focused on getting the screen door open, determined to do this on my own.
My mom was waiting in the kitchen, over a pot of what smelled like spaghetti. She was perched precariously on the counter, her loose turquoise sleeves clashing horribly with the pumpkin colored counters and flirting dangerously with the blue-hot flame. Her hair was pulled back, a sure
sign that she'd at least been to work today.
"Rayne Ivy Emerson-Marks, where the hel . . ." She stopped as Azi followed me into the kitchen. "O! Hello! Are you one of Rayne's friends from school? Normally, I'd ask you to stay for dinner, but we have a very important guest coming. Really, any other time . . ."
"Mom." I cut smoothly through her mommy-babble. "This is Azi Omsech. Apparently, he's going to be staying with us for a year."
Author's Note: Please share your predictions as well as opinions in the BBS. Who knows . . . You're idea may be just the inspiration I'm looking for!