Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Boy Behind the Window Chapter 4 - The Journey Home

I have been totally hopeless with this, but I have hope I will improve this year. As I move more and more into the world of YA I'm hoping this blog will receive more and more attention, especially when my website is up and running and this blog is attached to it.

Anyway, for fans of The Face in the Window here is chapter 4 of the prequel which takes place two years before the start of the book. Ace Richmond is fifteen and struggling to cope with a family of complete assholes.

“Where the hell have you been?” Ace’s father’s voice was filled with angry frustration, and it made Ace wince, even though he’d had very little control over the time they’d taken.

“Ace broke the wall,” Logan supplied gleefully as they got into the car.

“Don’t be silly,” Mrs Richmond admonished, helping Ace into the front seat.

“Hey, how does he get to sit in the front?” Logan complained.

“He hurt his shoulder. The last thing he needs is for you two to jostle it. Let me help you with your 
seatbelt, dear.”

“I can manage,” Ace mumbled, embarrassed, as his mother leaned across him to fasten the strap. He thanked God his fellow students were blind and couldn’t see what was going on. He’d be teased about this forever. The parents could see though. “Stop fussing.”

“What happened?”

“Ace stumbled against the wall, that’s all. A large piece of art fell off and broke.”

Although Mrs Richmond was trying hard to make light of it, Ace could tell she was mortified.

“Did you offer to replace it?”

“Of course I did. They won’t take our money. It’s irreplaceable but of no value. They’ll find something else to fill the space.”

“It’s not of no value. The whole of year ten worked on that for an entire term. I bet you didn’t even see my bit.”

“Don’t be petulant, Ace,” Mrs Richmond scolded from the back seat. “I would have looked at it, if was intact.”

“Bet you wouldn’t have,” Ace mumbled under his breath.

“That’s enough, Ace.”

“Sorry, Dad.”

The car purred into life and moved off. Ace winced when his father blared the horn a couple of times before reaching open road. Then, he tried to relax, but his shoulder was aching, and any attempt to ease it led to his mother leaning forward and asking if he was alright, or Logan secretly poking him. 

Logan always manoeuvred to sit next to, or behind Ace, and made car journeys a nightmare for him. It was futile to complain, because although Logan got told off, it just made him more spiteful and the prods became pinches, or sometimes worse. Besides, he’d take it out on Ace when they got home and that was never fun.

At one time, Logan went through a phase of leaving things on the stairs for Ace to fall over. Ace had to fall down the stairs twice before Logan got into trouble over that one, and then it was only for being careless, not malicious. Ace was tired of trying to get them to see what Logan was really like. Neither parent was prepared to acknowledge their son was a little bastard who was deliberately trying to hurt his brother.

Nick used to be just as bad, but he was seventeen now. He had a steady girlfriend and was doing A levels next year so he didn’t have time for Ace. That suited him fine, because it meant he only had to cope with one set of puerile behaviour, and not the two he used to. Nick still hated him though, and if he was unlucky enough to run into Nick when he had his friends around they still gave him a hard time. It was less physical these days, though, and Ace could handle verbal abuse. Well, mostly. Some of the things they said hurt, and stayed with him. If it hadn’t been for school Ace might have come to believe he was worthless and ugly.

Ace smiled. He used to think he was ugly. Even his parents, who never actually came out and said it, were cagey when it came to his looks. He’d heard plenty of people comment favourably on Logan and Nick, but the words he most heard relating to himself were – unusual, striking, unique – and those were the kind ones. But James told him he was beautiful. And Mrs Thomas always made a point of saying so. Okay, it was only two, but if someone as gorgeous as James thought he was beautiful he couldn’t be that bad.

Of course, James couldn’t actually see him, but James had been able to see once. He knew what people really looked like, and he’d learned to ‘see’ well with his fingers. He played games with his mother when he described things to her and she’d tell him how close he was. They’d never played it with Ace, but James told him about it all the time and he was adamant she’d confirmed over and over that Ace was beautiful.

He didn’t entirely believe that. Oh, he believed James thought he was beautiful. And he believed he wasn’t as freaky and ugly as his family seemed to think – and Logan and Nick constantly asserted – but he was hardly beautiful.

“Aw.” Ace couldn’t help but jump when Logan poked him hard in his bad shoulder. It was painful enough as it was. He was sure he wouldn’t be able to raise his arm tomorrow. Ah well; no need.

“What’s wrong dear?”

Ace pondered telling her, but reasoned it was pointless. “Nothing really. Just my shoulder.”

“Is it that bad? Do we need to go to a hospital?”

“Mum! It’s almost dinner time. If we go to a hospital we’ll have to sit there for hours and we’ll all starve. It’s not that bad. Look.”

Logan poked him again and he jumped. “Aw. Stop doing that.”

“That’s enough.” Mr Richmond used his – you kids are annoying me so you’d better stop messing around right now – voice, and Ace sighed. Yeah, just messing around.

“Logan, behave yourself. How much does it hurt, Ace?”

“Not enough to need a hospital. I can move it fine, although I figure the muscles will stiffen and I won’t be able to move it so well tomorrow.”

“Maybe we should get it checked. Just to make sure.”

“Stop fussing, woman. The boy’s fine. He’ll have worse than that before he dies.”

That was his father’s response to everything bad that happened to him – well to all of them to be fair. Words of wisdom from the Richmond Book of Pointless Sayings.

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