It happens in summer. In fact, every interesting thing happens during the summer, Mya thinks, even if it is not completely true. In spring, when Mya goes to school, Miss Rose does teach interesting facts, like the reason why the leaves of the chestnut tree, standing tall in the park behind Mya's house, are green. The lonely giant, Mya calls it. When Mummy takes her to the park, as soon as they cross the wrought iron gates, she lets go of her mother's hand and runs up until she reaches the large spotted trunk. It is always so quiet in the lonely giant's shadow. No other child ever comes close to the tree when Mya sits at its feet, nestled between the twisted roots.
They just stare at her — and it's really rude to stare at someone without speaking a word, Mya has learned at her expense — until their nanny finally calls them back.
"Peter! Come here!"
"Kate! Don't you want your pain au chocolat, my dear?"
They sit, eat and laugh together, while Mya watchs them out of the corner of her eye. She isn't jealous. Of course not. Nor does she want them to ask her "What's your name?" or "Why do you always sit there?". But you never know what can happen. Excitement makes her heart beat faster. Maybe one day, one of the children will call her for a game of hide-and-seek. And you can't really say "No" when someone asks you politely for something. Mya will be sad to leave the lonely giant but she can always keep an eye on him while she'll play. Mummy will stop fidgeting on her bench, like she always does when they go to the park. Instead she will smile and start talking with the other women. She won't be alone and neither will Mya.
Mya shakes her head. Here she is, wasting her time daydreaming about the lonely giant and school, while it's summer, she's finally in her home and she has so much to do! She quickly drinks down her glass of milk and before the cook can drop anything else on her plate — "But you're so skinny, little one!" — she runs away.
Her father's house is a maze. A brilliant and sunny maze, where every window overlooks the blooming rose garden or the sea, stretching so wide until Mya can't tell the difference between the foam-crested waves and the baby blue sky. Every sandy alley, every ray of sunshine, even the little pond with water lilies and koi carps — a great favourite of Mya — seems to call her, to draw her in their shadows and secrets, until she forgets everything during these lazy hours. Until the bodyguards of her father start chasing her when she turns a deaf ear to the housekeeper's calls and Mya shrieks with laughter. Until she and Mummy have to leave the house behind them and get back to the grey city, where Miss Rose and the lonely giant awaits them.
Standing on the house's threshold, the little girl dithers. A warm and salty breeze plays with her hair, speaking of mysteries to unravel and treasures to discover.
"Let's run together, shall we?"
Such a tempting offer. At that time, the veranda's door opens with a creak.
"Mya? Where are you?"
Treading carefully, the little girl escapes detection. She hears a deep sigh and then:
"The little devil never listens to me... So disobedient... She has that in her blood!"
Mya doesn't react. Mrs Nin always makes comments about her blood or her skin and she doesn't know why. She shrugs. That mystery isn't really interesting.
She steps back in the shadows, in the great house's wooden heart, in search of another adventure.
When she was little, Mya thought her father was a wizard. When she finally confided this secret to her mother, she laughed. A real, brilliant, joyful sound, which first startled Mya. Mum was usually so good at concealing her feelings, never saying anything too loud or attracting attention on her. She would never laugh like that in the street, the little girl thought. But before she could join in, Mum's laugh stopped, like a wave receding on the sand and disappearing once again in the sea.