Friday, 14 October 2016

The Boy Behind the Window Chapter 7 - Afternoon Sunshine


If you want to read the previous chapters please go here

Time passed slowly, as always, but that suited Ace fine. The faster time passed, the sooner his brothers would be home. They wouldn’t bother him, because he made sure to keep the door locked when they were in the house, but somehow just knowing they were nearby placed him on edge. At times like this, he wished he could go walk in a park or maybe on a beach. He’d never been near the sea, because his mother thought it was a dangerous environment. His mother thought a lot of places were dangerous. Ace sighed. Thank heaven for school. At least his parents had done one thing right in choosing the school. He felt almost normal when he was there.
A crash from outside jolted Ace out of a doze. He listened intently and heard Logan curse. Oh great! Surely, it couldn’t be four already. Straining his sensitive ears, Ace heard the door slam and Logan’s voice yelling for their mother. Ace slipped off the window seat and padded silently to the door, which he unlocked as quietly as he could. There were no pounding footsteps on the stairs, so Logan wasn’t coming up. It was fairly safe to creep down to the first floor where he could hear better.
Ace was in luck, Mrs Richmond met Logan in the hall.
“What on earth is all the commotion? Is everything alright? Is Ace hurt?”
“Ace? Why does he have to come into everything? This has nothing to do with Ace.”
“Then what does it have to do with, dear?”
There was a long pause, and Ace wished he could see what Logan was doing. It didn’t sound as if he was moving around.
“Out with it. You’re not in trouble are you? What have I told you about fighting?”
“I wasn’t fighting,” Logan snapped.
“Then what are you doing home from school so early?”
Ah, so it wasn’t four o’clock.
“Well….”
“Well what?”
“Well….” Logan heaved a sigh. “It wasn’t my fault.”
Uh oh.
“What have you done?”
“I told you, I haven’t done anything. Jamie Deacon, he’s captain of the football team, overheard me telling Jack about what happened at the freak school and he said I shouldn’t call Ace a freak and I told him to mind his own business.”
So much for “What does it have to do with Ace”, then.
“You said you hadn’t got into a fight.”
“I didn’t. We didn’t. One of the teacher overheard and I got sent to the headmaster for what I said about Ace. He sent me home “to think about it” and I have to talk to the school liaison about some pc shit tomorrow.”
“Don’t swear, Logan.”
Uh oh, his mother sounded mad. Time to make a strategic retreat. He really didn’t want to know what she had to say because it would be more of the same old and he would much rather not listen to himself being talked about as if he was…well, a freak. Did his mother really not see that the things she said about him weren’t all that much different to what Logan and Nick said. She didn’t actually use the world “freak” but she might as well have.
As Ace stepped back, his foot caught on something. Damn, he’d forgotten to check the stairs. He didn’t fall, but he did stumble and made a noise that was clearly heard from downstairs.
“Ace? is that you?”
Ace seriously considered sneaking back upstairs. He could probably make it before Logan could get to him and he had a fair chance of being quiet enough for them not to hear. However, they’d both heard him and he’d never get away with pretending it hadn’t been him. He was terrible at lying.
“I’m sorry to eavesdrop,” he said, carefully making his way down the stairs. “I was coming down to get something to eat.”
“Oh Ace dear, I’m so sorry. I forgot to get you lunch. I’m in the middle of baking. There’s a fete at the church on Saturday and I promised to provide some cakes. I have no idea why because I don’t even go to church.” She sighed. “Oh well, I suppose a quick sandwich will have to do.”
“I’ll make it.”
“Don’t be silly, you can’t make sandwiches, you’ll make a mess and you might hurt yourself.”
“We make sandwiches at school and I manage not to cut my fingers off or burn down the kitchen.”
“Yes, well, I’m sure you do, but that’s not a proper kitchen, is it?”
“No, of course not, it’s made of lego.”
There was a pause when Ace was pretty sure they were both staring at him with puzzled expressions, then Logan said, “You’re such a prick, Ace.”
“Logan. Your language. You’re lucky I need to make lunch for Ace, but I can assure you this conversation is not over. Go to your room and we’ll talk later, when your father gets home.”
“Can I have a sandwich?”
“You still have your packed lunch.”
“Yeah, but─”
“Go to your room, Logan. Don’t make this any worse than it has to be.”
“But it’s not fair. I didn’t do anything wrong. I can say what I like about Ace. He is freak. And I didn’t swear that much.”
“Swearing? You didn’t mention that little bit of information.”
“Sorry, Mum. It wasn’t bad swearing. Not really.”
“Room. Now.”
Ace drew back as Logan’s thunderous footsteps started up the stairs, but not far enough. Somehow, even though he flattened himself against the wall as much as he could, Logan managed to jab and elbow into his side, hard enough to make him double over. That jarred his shoulder and he had to grit his teeth to keep from crying out. He was not going to give his brother the satisfaction.
Mrs Richmond said nothing, she was already on her way back to the kitchen and probably wouldn’t have seen. Ace was glad. If she’d seen, she would have yelled at Logan and that would just have made things worse. With a sinking heard, Ace realized he’d left his door unlocked. He was now faced with a choice. Either he could go back up and lock the door, in which case he’d get told off by his mother for being so long, or he could go straight to the kitchen, get his lunch and take it back up as soon as he could, hoping Logan wouldn’t have gone into his room and done anything nasty while he was gone.
Ace shivered and headed back up the stairs.


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