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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Live, Love, Lose - 10. Chapter 10

Hey!

Another chapter!

I just love Karl's relationship with Robert and Margaret 😍😍😍

When they came back home in the evening, Karl found George leafing through some huge book as he was sitting on the bed they had started sharing last night.

He seemed to be so focused on what he was doing that Karl thought it’d be best to leave him alone and join Paul’s parents in the living room.

He closed the door just like he had opened it, without a single noise, and made his way downstairs swiftly.

“So what do you think of the university?” Mrs. Hopkins asked him as soon as he was in their field of vision.

He looked at them silently as he approached them and went to sit in the small brown armchair across her and her husband.

“It’s…” he started as if looking for the right words. “nice...” he managed to say, even though it wasn't easy.

“Isn’t it?” Mrs. Hopkins said with a big smile plastered on her face.

“It’s one of the most prestigious and elitist universities in the country, and it was founded by the king himself, George IV,” she said proudly.

Karl could make out the words prestigious and elitist, but it was more complicated for him to understand the second part of her sentence.

“The king,” She repeated, emphasising the word, seemingly noticing he didn’t get this. “You’ve got a king too in Denmark. The only difference is that yours is older and has been reigning over Denmark for much longer.”

Karl simply nodded as he figured out what she said. He knew at least that they had a king ruling the country, thanks to his father, making him not completely ignorant.

His brother and sister had even shown him where he resided.

“Wait, now that I think about it, we don’t even know which city he is from,” Mrs. Hopkins suddenly said, seemingly shocked by whatever had crossed her mind. “We should have asked him the first time when he told us which country he was from.”

Her husband just glanced at her silently as he had one leg crossed over the other.

“Are you from Copenhagen?” she asked him as she spoke distinctly.

Karl waited for two or three seconds before he shook his head.

“No. Not København. I’m from Fanø.”

“Feinuh?” Mrs. Hopkins repeated with her London accent. “I have never heard of this place before. It is true that except Copenhagen, we do not really know the other town and cities,” she said to her husband who still kept quiet. He just seemed to prefer to let her talk. “Is it near Copenhagen?” she asked, making small hand gestures with her fingers as she did.

Karl shook his head again.

“No, it’s...nær havet.”

“Near what?”

Karl didn’t know the English word for havet.

“Ocean,” he uttered, saying the other Danish word, even though he doubted it would help.

But Mrs. Hopkins didn’t seem to understand because of the different pronunciations.

“Blue,” he then uttered.

“I think he means it is near the ocean,” Mr. Hopkins suddenly spoke calmly, glancing at his wife.

“Oh. Well, Copenhagen is near the ocean too. But I guess it is in another part of the country then.”

Karl just kept staring at them silently, his hands in his lap.

“And siblings? Have you got any siblings?” She then suddenly asked him.

Upon seeing he didn’t seem to understand that, she tried again differently.

“Brother? Sister?”

Karl nodded. “En søster og en bror.” One sister and one brother.

“Are they older or younger?”

“Older.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” the woman replied with a smile. “What do they do for a living?”

“Margaret, just stop asking him questions, will you? I don't think he is really comfortable with all that questioning,” her husband interfered.

“I just want to try to know more about him,” she retorted. “You are not going to reproach me with it, are you?”

“It is a bit too soon, don’t you think?”

The woman stared into her husband’s brown eyes intently before she let out a quiet sigh, seemingly defeated.

“I know it is, but I guess I just got too eager when we managed to understand each other..”

A beat.

“Anyway, the more we speak to him, the more he will get used to English; even if he does not understand at first, he needs at least to hear the words.”

“Well, I think he has heard enough English for today.”

Karl was really uncomfortable with their little argument. It reminded him of when his own parents argued, but generally, theirs would be more...violent (not physically speaking).

Just like that time before he left them…

“Dinner needs to be reheated,” Mrs. Hopkins just said as she stood up from the sofa and made her way toward the kitchen swiftly without looking back at either her husband or Karl.

Mr. Hopkins and Karl locked eyes with each other, the man having a look on his face that said it was no big deal.

“Women,” he merely said. “They can be easily offended sometimes.”

Karl just gave him a small smile that looked almost shy and sheepish, understanding he was referring to his wife.

He broke the eye contact and looked around the room as if he were seeing it for the very first time. The silence was somehow uncomfortable for him. Not because of Mr. Hopkin’s presence. No, he was simply frustrated. He had never been a big talker who would hold the floor and talk for hours on end, but whenever he had the occasion to speak, he liked to do it. He didn’t mind at all being asked questions. He just wished he could answer them properly. By that, he meant without making it look awkward and without his unfamiliar accent.

Paul’s father didn’t seem to mind the silence though. Actually, he rather seemed to be enjoying Karl’s presence. Pretty much like his son.

But then it was just Karl’s impression.

In a way, Mr. Hopkins wasn’t exactly like his son. Not that it was something he was reproaching him with. He seemed to prefer the silence and to speak only when it was necessary.

Well, most likely that easy way of talking was a trait Paul had inherited from his mother.

Mrs. Hopkins came back a few minutes later in the living room, a silver tray in her hands.

“Until dinner is ready, help yourselves,” she said as she put it down on the small round tea table.

Arranged on it were slices of bread with butter spread on them. They weren’t that big, but it was like a kind of appetizer as a good way to start.

Both men leaned in and took one as Mrs. Hopkins sat back again next to her husband before she took one herself.

They all ate their bread in silence, enjoying it, and once the tray was empty, Karl stood up from the armchair to take it back to the kitchen. That was the least he could do since they were kind enough to accommodate and feed him for free, without demanding anything from him in return.

“No, dear, please. Let me do it,” the woman hurried to say.

“I can do it,” Karl simply replied.

“If he wants to help, you’re not going to prevent him from doing it, are you?” Her husband interfered.

“And why don’t we make a butler of him while we’re at it?!” the woman retorted sharply, obviously offended.

Karl quickly left the room to avoid another little scene. He couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty, guessing it was because of him, just because he wanted to be helpful.

“This is not what I meant, Margaret, and you know it,” the man defended himself. “If he wants to help, just let him help. And if he will not help, then we will not force him to help.”

Karl put the tray down on the counter, and soon enough he was joined by Mrs. Hopkins.

“Thank you, Carl. It’s so sweet of you to be willing to help,” she told him with a bright smile.

The blue-eyed boy just gave her a smile in return.

“Well, I am going to lay the table now. Feel free to help me if you want to,” she then said before she started opening one cupboard to get some plates out of it.

Karl took them as soon as she put them down next to the tray and set them on the table. Once every plate was in front of a seat, Margaret settled the cutlery, and after that Karl helped set the glasses.

There were only four plates.

Paul wasn’t going to have dinner with them that evening. After taking Karl back to his parents’ house, he had quickly left. Since it was Friday evening, he planned on going out, probably at the same pub where he had taken Karl. He had asked Karl whether he would like to come with him, but Karl had preferred to stay at home.

“Carl, could you please go upstairs and tell George that dinner is ready?” She lifted her index finger in the air to show ‘upstairs’, and Karl immediately complied as he nodded before leaving the kitchen.

He opened the door to the bedroom in the same way he had earlier and sneaked in.

George was still in the same position he had been into earlier, still doing the same thing.

Karl cleared his throat to make his presence known.

But George seemed to be way too engrossed in what he was doing to even hear it. Or maybe he just wanted to ignore Karl.

Karl looked at him intently, leaning in the door frame with his hands in his pockets.

“Dinner is ready,” he merely said still with his heavy Danish accent, his tone grave and neutral.

George suddenly looked up from his book to make eye contact with him.

“I’m not hungry,” he simply replied, his tone and gaze indifferent. “And I need to study.”

Karl didn’t bat an eye. He just studied George’s facial expression carefully and understood that he didn’t want to be disturbed. He nodded before he left the room and closed the door before heading back downstairs.

When he went back into the kitchen, Mr. Hopkins was sitting down at the table while Mrs. Hopkins was busy dealing with what she had prepared. Karl decided to sit down next to the man, doing it in silence.

“Isn’t George with you?” She asked surprised as she approached the table to put the cooking container down in the centre of it.

Karl shook his head. “He isn’t hungry. And he needs to study,” he just said.

Silence followed his answer.

“Well, even if he isn’t hungry for now, he will still be able to come down and eat what will be left of dinner,” the man said casually.

A beat.

“So be it,” his wife said gravely before taking Karl’s plate to serve him. “Here you go,” she said with a smile as she handed him his plate back.

“Thanks.”

Her smile just grew wider at that. She then sat down across her husband and let him help himself before helping herself.

The dinner consisted of some soup made of various vegetables, and it tasted really good.

“So, how was work today?” Mrs. Hopkins asked her husband to make small talk.

“Just like every other day,” the brown-haired man replied plainly, seemingly disinterested in the topic. “Nothing new or extraordinary happened today.”

Karl could sense there was something broken in him as he said that. He could see a kind of void in his warm brown eyes that were looking dull as he stared at him intently. But he didn’t question it in his mind.

Mrs. Hopkins just nodded before eating some more of her soup.

Once they all had finished their supper, Karl helped Mrs. Hopkins clear the table and wash the dishes before drying them.

Once they were done, the woman told him to join her husband in the living room. He did and sat down in the same armchair as earlier while the man was facing him again.

The man smiled at him warmly as they briefly made eye contact, and Karl smiled back.

A few moments later, Mrs. Hopkins finally joined them bringing with her the same silver tray she had brought earlier. Yet, this time, there weren’t slices of buttered bread on it, but a nice white teapot made of porcelain with blue roses as a design. There were three small teacups and saucers that had the same design around them.

She put it down silently before she started pouring the hot black tea into the three cups.

“I’ll be back in a few moments,” she said with a small smile before disappearing into the kitchen once again.

In less than two minutes she came back with a small white milk pot and a home-made cake. She put the pot down next to the cups where there was still some space left;

“Would you like some carrot cake with your tea,” she asked Karl, beaming at him as she put one hand on his shoulder while handing him the cake with the other.

Karl stared at it with curious eyes for a little while before he reached out and took one slice of it.

“Thanks.”

“It’s delicious, you’ll see,” she said, her smile wide.

Karl gave the cake one last look before he decided to taste it, taking a small bite of it in his mouth and chewing it slowly.

It didn’t taste bad. It wasn’t as if he were picky anyway.

“Do you like it?” Mrs. Hopkins asked him expectantly since there was nothing on his face that enabled her to tell whether he did or not.

Karl turned his head to look at her and nodded before he swallowed his mouthful of food. His nod was received with a wide smile, and the woman’s hand slid from his shoulder as she moved away from him to go and sit next to her husband after she put the cake down.

She took the white pot and poured some milk into her cup as her husband took his own cup and started sipping on it like a real English gentleman.

Karl put the slice of cake on his lap and leaned in to take his own cup in his hand.

“Have you already had the occasion to taste some tea before in Denmark?” She inquired curiously.

“Tea is an English thing,” her husband said as he put his cup on the saucer. “I don’t think many Danes drink tea.”

“It’s not only an English thing. The Japanese drink tea as well, and they have a ceremony that is as important and pompous as we have it in England.”

“I meant on our continent. I don’t think any other country in Europe likes tea as much as we do,” he said somehow playfully.

His wife let out a small chuckle at that.

“But we like coffee too here,” she said with a smile.

The taste of tea wasn’t that bad, but Karl wasn’t used to drinking it. It was just some kind of flavoured water that was hot in fact. He still preferred to have some milk in it. He really liked milk, and that was something you couldn’t do with just water.

So he quickly added some milk to it after his wife handed him the pot.

“I hope George isn’t overworking himself too much,” Mrs. Hopkins said at some point after a short moment of silence, a look of worry forming creases on her forehead. “This won’t help him to pass…”

Karl could only understand that she was talking about his unexpected room-mate, but the look on her face had him guess that she was worried about him.

“I don’t think it would be a good idea to interfere with the way he studies,” her husband simply replied.

“Even if we just want to help him?”

“Yes.”

Karl didn’t know George well enough yet to think anything about him.

Once Karl got back into the room, George just ignored him and pretended he wasn’t there, still engrossed in his book.

This was going to be another long night...

Copyright © 2021 LittleCherryBlossom26; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Karl is slowly learning some English in the way many foreigner do, through watching, listening and interpreting what is occuring. It's a long, slow and tedious process, but Karl's not stupid.

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18 hours ago, Anton_Cloche said:

Karl is slowly learning some English in the way many foreigner do, through watching, listening and interpreting what is occuring. It's a long, slow and tedious process, but Karl's not stupid.

@Anton_Cloche Yes, exactly!

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I agree with you both.  Paul's idea of providing different environments to learn and explore a new language was one I often used in my classroom for English as a Second Language students.

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