Monday, April 27, 2009
Kye struggled to fasten his shirt. The fabric felt stiff and the buttonholes squeaky, but mostly, the fault lay with his fingers. Was it excitement? Or fear? Or both?
He looked across to Asteroid scampering over the duvet.
‘Summer’s over,’ he said. ‘You’ll have to play on your own today.’
Pulling on his trousers, Kye tested the pockets for size. He figured all his trading cards would fit — but would anyone want to swap? Would anyone want to play?
A voice called from downstairs. Dad.
‘Are you ready yet? I’ll be late for work if you don’t get your skates on.’
Kye slid Asteroid from under his pillow and lowered him into his cage. ‘Time’s up,’ he grumbled. ‘As ever.’
‘Too right.’ replied Asteroid.
Only he didn’t.
When Kye reached the living room, Dad stood ready to go with his briefcase packed and his sensible coat slung over his shoulder.
‘For God’s sake Kye, where’s your tie? Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten how to do it already?’
‘No,’ Kye replied, frowning. ‘I just forgot.’ Staring at Dad, he uncoiled the stripy fabric from his blazer pocket and dangled it in front of him like a steamrollered cobra.
Dad grabbed it, looking flustered, and flicked up Kye’s collar. ‘How many times have I told you? You’ll never get a decent job if you don’t learn to listen.’
‘Yeah,’ thought Kye. ‘But I’m eleven.’ Pouting deliberately, he braced his neck while Dad stood behind him, tugging him from side to side.
‘Got it?’ said Dad, wrestling tight a knot fit to strangle an elephant.
‘Yeah,’ replied Kye. ‘So when do I die?’
‘Less of your cheek. It’s a new start, remember? No answering back this term, or else.’
Kye saluted. ‘Scout’s honour.’
Dad looked at his watch. No time for a reprimand. ‘Let’s get moving. I’m supervising staff training this morning...’
Shaking his head, Kye slackened his kipper garotte. How anyone could get so enthusiastic about working in a bank, he had no idea. But much as he hated to admit it, he knew Dad was right, for once: another new start he start he didn't want.
As he shuffled to the door in his unscuffed shoes, Kye turned to look at the mantelpiece. Couldn’t stop himself. There, in a frame of lifeless glass, a face smiled warmly into the room.
He felt a hand fall softly onto his head, ruffling his hair.
‘Sorry for shouting,’ said Dad. ‘Mum would have been proud of you today.’