Andrew Milner


     “Michael, I have to talk to you. I need you to be very brave for me. Can you do that?” Michael, completely unsure of what he meant, nodded his head. He caught a few words that the Vicar spoke in his southern twang and although he was hard to understand at times, certain words jumped out. He heard something about an accident and a bus and that his parents were dead. He sat, head bowed, not understanding the full implications of what had just happened or what he should say. He knew what dead meant, as his pet French lop-eared rabbit called Ears had died just before mum and dad had gone away. He knew that not seeing Ears again meant that he would not see his parents again. He saw something fall onto his leg. His black trousers that he had worn for school that day now showed a small round dot on his leg. Another joined it, falling so close to the other but forming two dots like a pair of eyes. Another, and then another. He could feel dampness in his eyes and then on his cheeks. He watched as the water on his cheek dripped onto his leg. Slowly it became more frequent until his leg was soaked. He could feel his eyes scrunching up and then like a thunderbolt to his very existence, his heart broke.

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A boarding school is not always the first choice for parents or children but Michael Dawson did not have the luxury of choice. At ten years of age he had to deal with the loss of both parents who had been abroad on a church mission. He never had the chance to say goodbye only see you later. He believed when they went, they would return, but they didn't. Not only having to contend with the biggest loss known to a child he was thrust into the full time guardianship of his uncaring Auntie who he had been staying with but only until his parents came back. Now they were not coming back his future had to be decided.

Saint Sebastian's Academy for Young Men is a boarding school on the North Yorkshire moors which prides itself on the creation of the next generation of gentlemen who will make names for themselves in the world outside. Michael finds himself at ten years old standing in the doorway of the building he didn't even recognise as a school. With Auntie gone without even a goodbye he tries hard to accept his fate but with great hardship and after sleepless nights and bed wetted sheets he knows he has to pull himself together. He forms a close friendship with a fellow pupil and becomes an enemy of another. After a crunching tackle on the rugby field, a game he has no idea how to play he believes his parents have come to take him home. His heart breaks for a second time when reality hits home that it had all been a dream. Michael senses that the school hides a dark secret, one which reveals itself to him in part, yet punishes him for being inquisitive.

Aware that he can only trust himself, he sets out to unravel the answers and find questions to fit. He has no intention of getting too close but ends up being in the direct firing line.

When all hope is lost, the person he expects least of all to be there comes to the rescue, but is it all too little too late?

Card School