There is something almost magical about a good, cool shower; as if it not only cleaned your body but also cleansed your mind, washing your troubles down the drain. Monika's head felt light on her shoulders and she was once again able to think clearly. All freshened up, she let herself fall onto her bed and watched the dust glimmer in the air for a moment. With a yank she got back onto her feet and went on to fetch her backpack downstairs. She might as well get started on the homework they had gotten. She placed her things neatly onto the living room table, and then remembered that she still hadn't eaten anything for lunch. A quick sandwich later she was finally ready to get to work.
Time rushed by quickly as the pages in the French dictionary fluttered about and the empty gaps in the exercise sheet got filled up; slowly, but surely. French vocabulary had always been a problem for her. The words just didn't seem to want to stick, so she often had to look things up to be sure. One thing had always given her confidence though: she had never been the worst in any of the tests in primary school. Never the best either, but still. Hopefully that would stay the same in the Gymnasium now, but the fact that it was supposed to be on an entirely new level scared her a bit.
An hour later she was finally done and rather certain that she had gotten things right. Exercise sheets usually weren't a problem for her, mostly because she could revise them and take her time to get things right. Exams on the other hand always made her sweat under the pressure of time. She didn't look forward to her first test. If the lesson was anything to go by, it would surely be absolutely brutal.
Just then the front door opened and Florian slouched through. With him, a swath of hot, summer air rushed in. He let his backpack fall to the ground and without a word wandered upstairs. Monika gathered her belongings and brought everything back into her room. It was now around 15:30, so maybe three hours until her dad would come home and dinner would be served. She decided to spend the rest of the time until then reading comic books.
She finally got bored of re-reading the same comic books she had had for years about two hours later and went on over to bother her brother, who was lying on his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. “You look like a mess. Did you come home in a garbage truck?” Monika grinned. Florian grunted “at least you're chipper. How was your first day?” “It was..” she hesitated and thought before answering “alright, I guess. Our French teacher is really scary, but the rest of the teachers seem nice.” Florian got up and brushed the sweat off his forehead. “That's good. I'm sure you'll get the hang of French eventually too,” he assured her. “The weirdest thing happened afterwards though! Some boy from another class stopped me when I wanted to leave, stammered something, and then just turned around again!” Florian raised an eyebrow at her and asked “do you know what he wanted?” “I think he mistook me for someone else, but that's kind of weird since I'm sure he saw me coming out of my classroom. And he seemed older than me, so I don't know.” “Well, it happens. Don't think too much of it unless it happens again” Florian shrugged.
Monika let herself fall onto the bed besides him and asked “So what's up with you? You seem more out of it than usual.” “I– I don't know. I think the heat is just getting to me.” “Hmm, well you could take a shower if that's all” Monika mused as she swayed her legs back and forth. Florian said nothing and just stared into space again. She watched him for a minute out of the corner of her eyes. Not a muscle moved on his face. With a sigh she dropped back onto her feet. “Well, let me know when you're feeling better again.” Seeing no reaction from him whatsoever still she left and went downstairs to bug her mom for a bit.
“Mom, I'm bored” Monika moaned as she rested her head on the kitchen counter. “Then peel these” Anja flatly replied and placed a tray of potatoes with a knife in front of Monika. She sighed and asked “so what are we having for dinner tonight” as she got to work. “Fried potatoes and Fleischkäse²” was the response after Anja had placed the Fleischkäse into the oven. “Sounds good” Monika concluded, after which the two continued cooking and preparing together in silence.
Right on time for dinner, Julien crashed through the door. He patted his daughter heartily on her back and seated himself at the table. “Smells great” he remarked. Later he added “I'm starving.” Monika always thought her dad looked a lot like a bear. He had a big, strong build, a thick, black beard, and hairy forearms. Her mother wasn't a frail twig either, but the two still made quite a contrasting image if placed side-by-side. It didn't take long for him to notice that the table wasn't fully staffed yet, so he bellowed for Florian to come for dinner.
As usual, not much was said while they ate. Monika enjoyed the food a lot, only now realising just how hungry she had become. A meagre sandwich for lunch really didn't cut it, but perhaps that just made dinner all the more delicious. Not a single bit of food was left over, and everyone seemed satisfied. And so, with their bellies stuffed, the drowsiness soon started to set in. “How was school?” Julien asked, leaning back in his chair. “It was fine” Monika answered slowly. “The teachers so far are alright, except perhaps the French teacher. He scared the entire class. I wonder if that's what military is like.” “Well, in my day all the teachers were really strict and stern. They used to beat us over the hands with a ruler if we did anything wrong!” Julien gestured with his fingers as if he could still feel the ruler hitting down on them. “Apparently he got into trouble a lot” Anja chimed in. “Yeah, I was called up a lot and didn't know what to say, so I just stood silent. They really didn't appreciate that” he went on, a far-away look in his eyes. “Well, did they give you any homework already?” he asked as he snapped back out of it. “Yeah, but I finished it already” Monika sighed. “That's good. Scurry off then!” he concluded. Anja started cleaning off the table, and Florian was made to stay to wash the dishes.
Monika went back upstairs and threw herself onto her bed again. It was getting late already, but a bit of sunlight still remained to brighten up the world outside. She grabbed her sketchpad off her desk and doodled for a bit, until her eyes finally started to become heavy. She looked at the few doodles she had managed to produce, but wasn't very happy with them. Putting everything aside she started to undress and get ready for bed. Her pyjamas almost felt hotter than her day clothes, but she hoped it would cool down a bit over night to compensate for that. A quick toilet break and tooth-brushing later she stood in her room again, staring out of her window. A familiar view presented itself to her; the few street lights along the road outside painted things in a soft orange, contrasted by the dark blue sky above.
Monika loved this tranquil and quiet mood. She opened the window, and the clean air rushed inside, washing out the dust that had built up over the day. It was still warm outside, but bearably so. After she had bathed herself in this summer night atmosphere for a few minutes, she managed to convince herself to bid adieu to this day and go to sleep. With the excitement and stress of the first school day done with and the air slowly cooling down, she managed to fall asleep quickly.
That night she had pleasant dreams. Only two things bothered her, but they were small noise in the sea of relief and happiness that rushed about her mind. She dreamt about life on a farm, with a small village on the other side of the hill. It was bright and colourful and the smell of hay lay in the air. She wandered about the fields, the wind quietly flowing through her hair. On her journey she came across a few farmers, who excitedly talked about Koala prices in French. She also encountered a small boy that sat under a large cherry blossom tree near a pond. The boy silently watched the reflection in the pond. It showed large amounts of petals falling, and yet not a single one of them ever reached the surface. Monika travelled long and far, walking through fields, on roads under trees, on and on into the distance. Suddenly the colours started to fade away, the forms dissolved. She blinked and was back in her bed, the morning sun shining into her room.
² A type of meat popular in Germany and Austria, sort of a cross between meat loaf and a baked paté.
Written by shinmera