“Oh, wow! This is such fun. Thank you so much for inviting me!” I turn to Tendai with a huge smile on my face.
“It’s a pleasure.” He smiles back.
We’re at a big hall where there are lots of computers all hooked up to a high-speed LAN. Everyone is playing World of Warcraft. I’ve been addicted to gaming for years, but I never get to play as much as I’d like. All I’ve got at home is my mom’s ancient Macbook with a 3G stick. I almost never have enough bandwidth for player vs player and it’s not easy to scrape up the monthly subscription fee.
So this is like heaven for me – and I owe it all to Tendai. I’m still not sure why he organised this, because he doesn’t seem to be keen on gaming himself. He’s just been sitting watching me while I put my avatar through her paces.
“I’m glad to see you smiling for a change,” says Tendai. “You’ve been looking kind of sad at school lately. Are you still missing Jayden?”
“Of course. I’ll never stop missing him until he comes home.”
Tendai says something under his breath. It sounds like, “If he comes home.”
“What do you mean by that?” I say immediately. “Why did you say, if he comes home? Why wouldn’t he come home?”
Tendai looks uncomfortable for a moment. Then he says, “I really shouldn’t have said anything.”
“But you did, and now you need to tell me what you meant by it. Why wouldn’t Jayden come home?”
“It’s just that I’ve heard of kids who go on these student exchange programmes to private schools and then get offered a bursary to stay on at that school. They never come back. But I’m sure you have nothing to worry about, Latoya. It’s only the top students who get offered that.”
But it feels like an icy cold hand has gripped my tummy. Jayden is one of the best students at school. He gets brilliant marks, and he’s a top sportsman too. Anyone in their right mind would offer him a bursary. What if he never comes back?