This is in Miss Starkey’s office, where the voice over the Tannoy told her to go. Amor has been waiting and waiting for this moment for so long, has imagined it so many times, that it already seems like a fact. But now that the moment has really come, it feels far away and dreamy. It hasn’t happened, not actually. And especially not to Ma, who will always, always be alive.
I’m sorry, Miss Starkey says again, covering her big teeth behind thin, pressed-together lips. Some of the other girls say Miss Starkey is a lesbian, but it’s hard to imagine her doing anything sexy with anyone. Or maybe she did once and has been permanently disgusted ever since. It’s a sorrow we all have to bear, she adds in a serious voice, while Tannie Marina trembles and dabs at her eyes with a tissue, though she has always looked down on Ma and doesn’t care at all that she’s dead, even if she isn’t.
Her aunt goes downstairs with her and waits outside while Amor has to go back to the hostel to pack her suitcase. She’s been living here for the past seven months, waiting for what hasn’t happened to happen, and every second of that time she’s hated these long, cold rooms with their linoleum floors, but now that she has to leave, she doesn’t want to go. All she wants to do is lie down on her bed and fall asleep and never, never wake up. Like Ma? No, not like Ma, because Ma is not asleep.
Slowly, she puts her clothes into the suitcase and then carries it down to the front of the main school building, where her aunt is standing, looking into the fishpond. That’s a big fat one, she says, pointing into the depths, have you ever seen such a big goldfish? And Amor says that she hasn’t, even though she can’t see which fish her aunt is pointing at and none of it is real anyway.