It's been a while but I keep forgetting to post these snippets. I hope you forgive and bear with me. It's been an adventure writing about Ace pre Haze. Many of the things that were resolved are now unresolved and he has a lot of growing to do so I have to make him less wise and more immature. Not that Ace was ever immature. I suppose he had to grow up fast considering all that was going on around him, Anyway, here is the next installment A Sleepless Night
Despite the pain medication, Ace didn’t sleep well. It wasn’t just his shoulder that kept him awake, though. He couldn’t stop thinking how messed up his family was, and how messed up his life was. James had a point when he said Ace was way too ready to excuse, explain and forgive. He knew what was happening was wrong. He knew he should get angry and fight back – but they were his family, and despite everything he loved them. It was hard enough getting through the day without being constantly at war. And he knew that’s what it would be. If he started making a fuss over the way he was treated – by everyone really – then he’d have them all on his back, all the time and he’d get nowhere fast. No, it was easier to keep the peace. All he had to do was keep his head down for a couple of weeks, then he’d be back in school and wouldn’t have to worry until Christmas. If he was really lucky he might be able to persuade them to let him stay at school…or better still go to James’.
Ace sighed. That was the other thing causing him to lose sleep. James. James had always been Ace’s best friend. They’d bonded since the day they started at the school when they were five. At that time, James still had a little vision and he insisted Ace was a fairy. He also insisted on following him everywhere and holding his hand whenever he could. Later, Ace realized that part of it was fear.
James’ family had sent him to the school for very different reasons his own family had. Ace had been send to Brookwood Academy For The Visually Impaired because it was the best boarding school his parents could buy. They could assuage their guilt by telling themselves and their friends that they were doing everything they could for their flawed offspring. At least, as it was an exclusive school, he’d be mixing with the right kind of blind children, with families who wouldn’t judge them on their failure to make perfect children. Maybe they’d expected him to make friends with a blind prince or something.
James, on the other hand, had parents who genuinely wanted him to do well in life and be as independent as he possibly could. They’d chosen he school not for how much it cost but on what it could actually do for their child. They looked at results not the roll. Mrs Richmond tolerated Mrs Thomas because the family was wealthy and influential. She didn’t like her. She didn’t like James either, because he was everything Ace wasn’t. Fearless, brash, wild and uncaring. Sure he got hurt. He was always nursing bruises at best, but he truly lived. In fact, he squeezed life by the throat until sheer joy burst out, then he rode it as far as he could before he fell off. Just by being his friend, Ace found himself basking in the shower of sparks he left in his wake. Mrs Richmond would drop dead on the spot if she found out half the things Ace got up to with James.
All of this made Ace smile, but it started to go off the rails a bit when he thought about visiting James for his birthday. He wanted to go. Oh hell yes. He was counting the minutes, but…. Recently, James had got kind of… weird. Sometimes, Ace could sense James staring at him, and he’d go quiet and kind of…intense. Then there were the hugs. James had always been tactile, but recently he’d been holding on just a little too long to be entirely comfortable. Sometimes, James’ voice would get husky or kind of wistful and the things he said seemed to have more meaning that Ace could catch.
It was all very confusing but also…troubling. The problem was, that when James did all these things, it made Ace feel weird. Kind of fluttery inside. Hot and tingly. All the boys talked about sex. Hell, they were nearly sixteen. Some of them claimed to have actually done it, but Ace wasn’t sure he believed them. Next year, they’d be allowed to go down to town unaccompanied by teachers, as long as there were at least two of them and he’d heard there were plenty of girls more than willing to teach the blind boys a thing or two. He’d never really taken part in those conversations. He wasn’t interested in sex. In fact, he’d begun to worry about that a little. Was it normal for a sixteen-year-old to not think about sex all the time?
Only, now he was thinking about it. He was thinking about it a lot. Dreaming about it. He’d caught himself in daydreams, with his hand wandering over his body, and woken in the morning to a damp bed and memories of blue eyes. The problem was, he wasn’t dreaming of girls. He was dreaming of James and he had a pretty good idea James was dreaming about him, too.
He knew what gay was, of course. He wasn’t stupid, and there were a few relationships at the school. There always were at boys only schools, or so he was told. He’d tried to tell himself that living and working so closely with boys of all ages, who really understood his life and the struggles he had to achieve things others took for granted, made it inevitable that he would think of boys “in that way”, even if he wasn’t gay.
So what if he was? Would it really make a difference? He was a freak anyway, so would it be so much worse to be a gay freak? Well…yeah it would. Nick and Logan would be totally unbearable and what if his parents threw him out on the streets? How would he survive? Without school what would he have? Would James’ parents take care of him? Or would they hate him, too. Just because they were so open and sensible about James’ blindness, and just because they were nice, didn’t mean they’d accept James being gay any more than the Richmonds would accept Ace.
A loud hammering on his door startled him out of a light doze. “Get up, fag. We’re going out.”
Ace sat up, his heart hammering. Had he talked in his sleep? Had someone overheard him? Did someone know?
The hammering came again. “Get your stupid arse dressed. We can’t go until you’re here. Just do it.”
Thunderous footsteps raced down the stairs and Ace fell back, shivering as his racing heart slowed. It was just Logan. Logan and Nick always called things like ‘fag’ and ‘gay’ just because he had long hair. He must never let them know they were right.