Revenge Ritual

‘Glad you could join us, Micki.’

As she drew closer he could smell her chalky perfume and hear some giggling behind him. Better to talk to her and hope she would go away.

‘Thank you, Miss.’

She asked if he’d managed to do his homework and if he needed any extra help with his essay. There was more giggling. Ms Blundell coughed and shuffled from one foot to the other. ‘As you’re all so keen to be heard this morning, we’d better get started.’

She went back to her table and started handing out books. ‘We’re going to read ‘Shadow’ by Michael Morpurgo. It’s a story about a refugee boy from Afghanistan and his friendship with a dog called Shadow. As you read, think about the boy, Aman, and what he is going through as a refugee in this country. Think about children being locked up in places like Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre and if you think that’s right.’

Micki looked up; maybe for once English might be interesting. He took the book from Miss Blundell with more enthusiasm than he usually felt for school books, but prayed she wouldn’t ask him to read it aloud. She seemed to interpret the look he gave her correctly. Maybe she’d heard someone behind him muttering that he should be sent to Yarl’s Wood.

‘We’ll start with the back row. Simone, will you read the first chapter.’

He risked a quick look round and saw Simone take the gum out of her mouth and flick it away. ‘Do I have to, Miss?’

Miss Blundell stood over her ‘Yes, Simone, you do have to.’

After a drawn out pause, Simone started to read from the book.

He could have done a better job at reading out loud, but the story was interesting and he could follow it easily from the book. He didn’t even notice when Miss Blundell asked someone else to read, he was so absorbed. There were lots of things in it that he liked. He liked the boy called Matt who was Aman’s best friend and wished he had a best friend in England like him. Matt wanted to get Aman out of the prison he was being kept in before he was sent back to Afghanistan. Micki thought if he had a friend like Matt he might not want to go home so much and Ladram Heights Community School might be bearable. Matt had taken Aman to see the night sky in Devon because the stars were so much brighter than in Manchester and Micki remembered Mr Trevelyan saying that he would take him to the Observatory in Sidmouth, something he had been looking forward to.

He was sorry when the lesson came to an end.

As he was leaving Miss Blundell came over to him, ‘Did you enjoy the story, Micki?’

‘Yes, thank you, Miss Blundell,’ he answered without thinking.

‘Yes, thank you, Miss Blundell,’ was echoed behind him, followed by more giggling.

Micki walked away, leaving her standing alone in the classroom. He could feel his cheeks getting hotter and hoped that no one would notice. But the giggling was right behind him. He speeded up and walked straight into a purple t-shirt being worn by someone big and solid. As he recovered his balance, he saw the wearer was Connor O’Brian’s friend from Kidpower – and that wasn’t good.

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