"Hello. May I speak to Gillian please?"
There was silence on the other line. Then a female voice spoke up. It was Diane. "Hello, Brendon. Is that you?"
"Hi, yeah, hi, Diane. I saw you at the funeral."
"I wanted to talk to you, but you disappeared," she said. "I'm really sorry about your dad."
I coughed a little. "Yeah, it's okay."
"Paul and I will probably visit you soon," she said.
"How're you then? And Paul?"
"We'reŠfine," she mumbled. "Gillian's notŠoh wait, she's back. Hold on." I heard the sound of the door closing.
"Hello," Gillian's voice came on the line.
I felt myself twitch instinctively. Gillian, it's been such a long time.
"Hi. Where did you come from?" I asked, trying to steady my voice.
She was breathing slightly heavily. "From a movie. I was withŠa guyŠfriend."
"Your boyfriend?" I asked, chuckling nervously. "Who's he? What's his name? NUS?"
" It's none of your business," she replied. I was slightly taken aback.
"Oh, sorryŠI didn't mean toŠ"
"Never mind," she interjected. "Sorry about your dad."
"If you don't mind me asking...what happened to your father?" she asked.
"How are you?" I asked her in a more subdued tone.
"Fine. Honours year. E Lang. You're still doing PEIS?"
"Yeah, I am."
"Still taking French?"
"Finished my requirements."
"So. One more year to graduation. Ever think of what you're going to do after that?"
"Write my screenplay probably. But my mom wants me to come back and work."
"You'll probably work over there. I mean, you sound like your life's over there."
"What makes you think so" I asked.
"It's quite obvious when you don't communicate with anyone here and you don't come back for three years straight," Gillian said flatly. "Everyone comes back in August or so, usually gushing about life over there and complaining about everything over here. You don't come back and you don't gush, so I think you're not viewing life over there as a spectator anymore, you've become a part of it."
"I don't think that's true," I said slowly. "NoŠI can't see myself totally as an American."
"One thing I have to complain though - the heat. It's damn hot here."
"Get used to it."
I wasn't used to the sharpness in Gillian's voice. For a moment, I was silent, sensing tension between us.
"What's the temperature now?" I asked neutrally.
"Thirty three degrees. Probably climbing," she replied. "It's been this hot for about two weeks now."
"Crazy isn't it."
" That's just the way it is over here."