Week three of my Ace story. A prequel to The Face in the Window.
“Come on, Ace honey, let’s get out of here. Your father’s waiting in the car.”
Ace could tell his mother was angry, but trying not to show it. Face meant everything, and she wouldn’t let it slip here, of all places. Her grip on his arm hurt.
“Ace—” James began, but ace silenced him with a touch.
“It’ll be okay. I’ll see you soon. We can talk then.”
“Yeah right.” Ace could tell James knew they wouldn’t talk about it. What was the point? Ace’s family were as they were and all the fighting in the world wouldn’t change them. It would only make everyone, Ace most of all, unhappy.
“We’ll see you in a few weeks, Ace.” Mrs Thomas said brightly, as Ace’s mother dragged him down the hall.
Truthfully, he would have done a lot better if she’d just left him alone. Her attempts to help always had him stumbling, especially when she was angry, and every time he tripped or stumbled, cried out or bumped into something, it just made her even more insistent he needed help and couldn’t be independent. She had no idea what he could really do and he was tired to trying to prove it. He wasn’t the only one in this family who was blind.
“Where the hell have you been?” a voice hissed, and Ace’s heart fell. To his absolute mortification, his mother chose that moment to let go of his arm, and not expecting it, Ace stumbled and crashed into the wall. It happened to be a wall displaying a multi–dimensional piece of art. He yelped as he caught his shoulder, then cried out as the whole thing wobbled and threatened to fall. Trying to hold
it up with his injured shoulder, he called for help.
The hissing voice turned to laughter. “For God’s sake, Logan,” Ace gasped. “Don’t just stand there, help me.”
“Oh poor Ace,” Logan said, in a cold mockery of concern. “But what could I do? I can’t fix this mess you’ve made.”
“Me? Oh what’s the point? Find a teacher.”
“Find one yourself.”
“Mother?” Ace hated himself that his voice was shaky and had an almost childish plea in it.
“She’s not here,” Logan sneered. “She was so embarrassed and ashamed of you she ran away.”
“Liar,” Ace said, his voice still shaking. “Where is she?”
“I told you, not here.”
Where could she have gone? Surely she wouldn’t have abandoned him. The artwork was getting heavier, and more painful, on his shoulder, and he was terrified that if he moved it would come crashing down. In a building full of people he felt incredibly alone. Where was everyone? Why didn’t someone come?
“Feeling kinda lonely and helpless, Ace?” Logan said gleefully. Ace had to keep reminding himself he’s only a kid, only a kid, although a traitorous voice was whispering that at thirteen, Logan really should have known better. This was not a good situation for either of them.
“Please, Logan. Please just help me hold this up until someone comes. It’s too heavy for me.”
Ace hated begging Logan for anything. It just fed in to the twisted hatred his brother seemed to have for him, but he was painfully aware that the fresco was slipping and his shoulder was killing him. There were tears in his voice and he could practically feel Logan’s glee.
A breeze brushed Ace’s cheek as someone moved closer and a sense of relief swept over him. Logan was going to help after all. He should have known.
Instead of helping. Logan pushed Ace hard, causing him to stumble forward. The artwork shifted and slipped, and although Ace tried his best to hold it, crying out for help, it slipped sideways and came crashing down, knocking Ace off his feet. He pitched forward onto the floor a lay there for a moment, sprawled and breathless.
“What the hell—?”
Voices and running feet seemed to come from everywhere. Someone grabbed his arm and tried to yank him up off the floor. It was the arm attached to his sore shoulder and he cried out in pain.
“Get up,” Logan hissed.
Other hands slipped under his arms and hauled him up, then brushed him down. Totally disoriented and confused, Ace allowed them to turn him around and rest on his shoulder.
“Are you alright, Ace?” Ace almost collapsed with relief. It was one of his teachers.
“I fell,” he mumbled. “I bumped into the wall, and it fell. I–I couldn’t hold it. I’m sorry.” He sniffed, angry that there were tears very close to the surface. Ace didn’t cry, but he was in pain and alone
“Good grief, what on earth happened?” Mrs Richmond’s voice was, for once, concerned rather than angry. “Logan, didn’t you help your brother hold that thing?”
“I tried,” Logan said, as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, “but it was too heavy and Ace was
crying and being a real baby about it because he hurt his shoulder. I’m too small to be able to hold it and him up by myself. Then he fell over and I only just got out of the way before it hit me.”
“Are you alright, Ace?” the teacher said, concern in her voice. “Did it hurt you?”
“I–I banged my shoulder when I fell. It’s okay.”
“Are you sure that’s what really happened, Ace?” a new voice asked, and he shrivelled inside, recognizing the headmaster. He realized now that his mother must have gone for help as soon as the fresco started to fall. A sense of relief washed over him along with the dread. At least she cared that much.
“It’s not like you to be that clumsy.”
“I’m afraid it was my fault, at least at the start,” Mrs Richmond said, suprising Ace again. “I was hurrying him along and he stumbled. I should have been more careful. I left him with his brother as they seemed to have things under control.”
“It was just too heavy,” Logan whined.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” the headmaster asked Ace.
“Alright. You get off then, leave this to me.”
Ace brightened. “Thank you, sir,” he said.
“Thank you, sir,” Logan sneered as they left the school building.
If anyone would like to make a contribution to the story, just give me a shout and the next chapter could be yours.