Jin stood there, without any words or actions. It took a while for the girl to look up and acknowledge Jin’s presence. He felt embarrassed when she stared at his face. He must’ve looked haggard and frustrated. For a person whose privacy was intruded by someone she never expected, she seemed unmoving and calm. Her stillness amazed him. Jin tried to speak, but his words choked in his throats.
“Take a seat,” she said.
Jin did as he was told. He sat on the edge of a chair, in an awkward position. It was more of a study room- a library, if exaggerated. She walked over to the other side of the ‘room’, and boiled some tea. Earl grey, he thought to himself. His mother’s favorite too. While she did so, Jin stared at the city through the clock. Somehow it was amazing that she was never caught living behind the clock. She brought a plate of little teacakes along with the teapot, and sat across him. Jin had no idea what to say first- an apology? She poured the tea into the teacups, and handed one of them to him.
“Look, I-” Jin started.
“If you are going to apologize, there is no need to. Besides, you are a traveller,” she gave him a faint smile.
“How did you know?” He asked, and realized that it was a stupid question. They met in a train station, and he was holding handful of luggage.
“Well, you were holding one big bag and a cello case, and you were alone in the station for quite a while, which means that you are not returning from a journey, if you did, you would have left straightaway. Besides…” She explained, “anyway, I’m Rose Eliot. Nice to meet you.”
“Pleasure’s all mine,” he said, as he shook her hand, “why do you live behind a clock?”
Jin blurted out, and as expected, Rose didn’t look much taken aback by his abrupt question. Instead of answering his question, she held up a square-shaped teacake. Its pink icing wrote, “Eat me” on the cake’s white surface.
“Isn’t this familiar?” She asked.
Jin thought for a while. It was the cake Alice ate when she had to grow bigger. Jin looked up, and Rose smiled back.
“I need you to help me with something,” Rose said. Jin did not answer.