Oct. 1st, 2010 07:45 pm
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Nicholas lie stretched out on the sofa with his head resting on his hands and his feet in Janine’s lap. The flat seemed to, if anything, be getting worse.

“Are you sure we can’t do anything?” he asked, using up every ounce of willpower to stay where he was and not jump up and start organising boxes.

“Why?” she asked, squeezing one of his toes and laughing at the way he pulled his feet away. “Have you reconsidered taking it all down to the skip?”

Nicholas looked slightly pained. “Would you hate me if I said ‘yes’?”

How someone who was meant to be moving out and who was never in the apartment could be making an even bigger mess was an idea that simply baffled him. After a few moments, he pulled himself up to his feet.

“Oh, could you take the stuff in the kitchen down as well?” Janine asked with an evil little grin.

Nicholas looked around, confused. “Actually, I... have football today...” he said, pointing vaguely at the door. “But, uhm...”

Janine laughed. “I know,” she said. “Now go, or you’ll be late.”


The older boys he was being housed with were a huge improvement over the boys his own age. Even more, they weren’t in the dorm very often, and would frequently leave him alone while they went off and did the sorts of things older boys did.

He was on his bed, getting his reading for the winter holidays out of the way early. Most of the school had gone home for Christmas already, letting him leave the door open without being distracted by noise.

“Nicholas, you’re still here?”

He looked up to see Mr Dalton standing in the door.

“Yes, sir,” Nicholas said simply.

“Aren’t you going home for the holidays?”

Nicholas shook his head. “They’re going to France, to stay with my aunt.”

“And you don’t want to?”

He sighed. “My aunt’s house is only three bedrooms. It’s her family there, plus us. Usually, there are eight of us.”

Mr Dalton nodded. “Of course,” he agreed. “But won’t you miss seeing your family?”

Nicholas only shrugged. “My mum’s wanted to go to my aunt’s for Christmas for a few years. They’re only able to do it if I stay behind, and she doesn’t want me at home alone all week. I think I can manage, but she’s worried.”

The teacher sighed, but Nicholas didn’t seem to notice.


Nicholas wasn’t sure how much time had passed since his conversation with Mr Dalton when he looked up to see Travis standing in his door, carrying a large, plastic bag.

“I thought you’d gone with mum?”

Travis shook his head. “No. My mum says she’s actually gonna be doing something this year, but...”

He didn’t seem hopeful.

“Anyway, mum – yours – wanted me to bring you this. Said it would keep you busy while everyone else had gone home.”

Nicholas sat up to look at the bag of presumably Christmas gifts Travis had hefted with him up to the school.

“What is it?”

Travis laughed. “I don’t know. Open them.”

He brought the bag over to Nicholas’ bed, upending it. Nicholas quickly rearranged them, lining them up well as he was able.

“Some of these are for you,” he says. “Here.”

Several hours later, Nicholas and Travis were too busy trying to figure out how to play chess to notice Mr Dalton checking in on them again.
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Police Chief Inspector Nicholas Angel

September 2013

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