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The Present That Was Left Behind – Chapter Five

The big night is here, the night of the play. The night that everyone has been waiting for. The cast of the show wait nervously in the wings, jostling for space in the darkness as the audience filter into the auditorium. June and Kelsey, the two presents, are in costumes made of boxes, wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper and tied with bows. Kelsey is in red, and June is in blue. Next to them stands Miles in his red and white fur costume, a fluffy white beard tied around his mouth. Behind them stand the reindeer, all 9 of them, dressed in reindeer suits with hoods that have the reindeer heads on them. Rudolph has a red nose from comic relief day over the reindeer nose on the costume.

Waiting nervously in the other wing is Hattie, in her matching suit to Miles’, and the three elves, in their long green shirts and tights, with bells on the end of their shoes and on their pointed hats so that they jingle whenever they move.

There is an atmosphere of nervous anticipation, and Miles is squeezing his hands together, listening to June’s quiet words of support. Soon enough, the lights are turned down and the hall becomes silent, a single spotlight following the head teacher as he walks onto the stage, coming to a stop in the middle.

“Well, this needs no introduction,” He says, preparing for his introduction. “The children of Year Ten have worked furiously hard recently to bring this to you, mainly on their own, but with the occasional use of Mrs Greenwood’s guiding hand.” He pauses for dramatic effect, “This is the story of ‘The Present That Was Left Behind’, with Miles Strongton as the leading man and Hattie Miller as his leading lady… Enjoy!” He walks off the stage, the spotlight dimming, causing him to trip on the stage. The lights are quickly flicked back on to let him see his way, revealing his shiny, flustered face.

In the wings, this brings Miles a moment of relief from his pre-show panic. It also receives a laugh from the audience of parents and pupils, who in return get a stern look from the embarrassed man. Once he has reached his seat, the room is once again plunged into darkness, allowing for Hattie to walk briskly onto the stage, illuminated by her own spotlight, and delivers her first line:

“It’s almost time, Santa, you need to get ready to set off.” Miles hurries onto the stage, not shy nerdy Miles Strongton at all, but Santa Claus himself.

-§§§-

The show ends with a bang, a raucous applause almost deafening Miles as he walks off stage with Hattie for the final time. She beams brightly at him and then skips off to get to the other side of the wings, where she will come on from for the final bow. As he stands there watching the parents through the crack in the curtain, Miles feels a small hand slip into his and turns around to find himself face to face with June. He grins.

“You did great out there.” She says with a small smile.

“Uh, thanks. You did too-” He begins but is cut off by the petite girl pulling his Santa’s beard off his face and giving him a kiss, their hands still wrapped together as they sidestep to the edge of the wing so no-one can see them. They can hear the announcements of the characters coming on to bow, but they don’t care, they are too engrossed in their personal little bubble. That is, of course, until Miles hears the name Santa Claus for the second time, being said in an irritated manner, and remembers that he needs to go on stage. He breaks away from June, who blushes slightly and looks down at their intertwined hands.

“I’ll be back in just a sec.” He says quickly and rushes on, pulling his beard back over his face as he does so. The other members of the cast are lined up along the edge of the stage, with just Hattie standing in the middle, looking at the wings expectantly for him to come on. She rolls her eyes playfully at him as he joins her and they take a bow for the audience, then join the others down the side of the stage.

“Where were you? What were you doing?” She hisses at him.

He stays silent, just giving her a cheeky knowing smile.

Finally.” She looks up into Miles’ shining eyes, grinning.  “I’m glad we’re all happy.”

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The Present That was Left Behind – Chapter Four

The next few days pass quickly, a blur of rehearsals, line learning and new friendships. The teachers watch on, slightly bemused by the unlikely friendship blossoming between June, Hattie, Miles and, strangest of all, Orlando. The boy has started looking sullen, and deeply unhappy, sitting away from his regular ‘friends’ and in most cases sitting alone in lessons. However, he is at his happiest when with his three new friends. They seem to enjoy each other’s presence and often steal away into an empty classroom to rehearse their parts in the play together.

In rehearsals, Miles has surprised everyone, standing proudly and delivering his lines well, with confidence. As soon as he leaves the stage though, he returns to his usual shy self and blushes whenever anyone so much as looks at him, as if being on stage is all the being noticed that he can handle.

Hattie is being kinder, not that she ever used to be intentionally cruel, but now she thinks about what she is saying more, and in some cases, words things differently.

June is also coming out of her shell a little, the confidence of her new found friends rubbing of on her a little. She smiles more, but still finds it hard to volunteer to speak in lessons.

Overall, they are good influences on each other, and when together, are a force to be reckoned with, any harsh comments flung at them dealt with, leaving no lasting marks. Orlando has been forgiven for any past hardships to the others, and seems more peaceful now.

The night before the show, after rehearsals have ended, the four of them decide to go out for tea together. They get their bags and head to a fast food place nearby. Orlando offers to pay for them all but the other 3 shush him and insist on paying themselves, so they all get up and order together. When they get back to their table, however, they find it has been taken.

“Oh, look who it is. Didn’t think we’d see you here.” One of Orlando’s former friends sneers, with a look on his face that shows that they were expecting him and they knew that they were sitting at their table. Orlando blushes red and starts to turn away to find a new table, but Hattie holds him in place then steps forward.

“Excuse me, but this is our table.” She says firmly.

“Ah, I’ll think you’ll find that it’s our table now.” One of the boys sneers and the other laugh.

“But my bag is there.” Hattie insists, gesturing towards the red rucksack that sits underneath one of the chairs. One of the boys reaches for it and pick it up, placing it on the table in front of them. Hattie makes a grab for it but he snatches it out of her way, a malicious grin on his face.

“Now now, don’t be too hasty. We can’t be sure that it’s yours, we’ll have to check inside for personal belongings.” As he pushes the rucksack across the table to another of the group, they all laugh meanly. Hattie goes bright red as he unzips the bag and reaches inside.

“No, stop! Get out of there, that’s my stuff!” She stumbles, flustered, as he empties out some school books, a pencil case, her phone, her house keys, and some unused pads. Standing next to her, Miles can feel the embarrassment radiating off her, and the anger radiating off Orlando as he stands and fumes silently. The group of boys begin to throw Hattie’s belongings around amongst themselves, laughing as she tries to snatch them out of the air above her head.

“I tell you what, we’ll give you your stuff back if Orlando tells us his little secret.” One grins, and Miles feels the taller boy stiffen beside him.

“Fine,” Hattie says, sounding unbothered, but her fingers trembling by her sides, “Keep it then.” The boys look surprised by this, but soon continue to throw her belongings across the table to each other.

“No, Hattie. Thank you, but no. You can’t just let them take your things to try and protect me. I can fight my own battles.” Orlando pauses, quickly adding, “I appreciate it though. Thanks.”

“Orlando…” June starts, but doesn’t finish what she was going to say after receiving a sharp glare from one of Orlando’s ex-friends.

“Hand over the bag first, then I’ll tell you.” He says, meeting one of his ex-friends eyes and holding their gaze. The boy gestures to the others to put the stuff back into the bag then holds it out to him, not breaking the eye contact. Orlando reaches for the bag and tries to take it, but the boy doesn’t let go.

“There, you’ve got your hand on it. Tell me your secret, and I’ll let go.”

“Orlando, you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to tell them.” Hattie pleads from behind, “I don’t need my bag. It’s all replaceable. I don’t want to be the one to force you into saying. You need to do it when you’re ready.”

“It doesn’t matter if I am ready or not. I want people to know, I just don’t want the consequences. If everyone was like you, it would be fine…”

“Heh,” Says one of the boys, “Go on then.”

“Fine.” Orlando says, then mutters something inaudible, at the same time snatching back Hattie’s bag. All four of them run out of the restaurant hurriedly, clutching their half cold food.

Miles can hear the pounding feet on the pavement behind them as they run, sprinting as fast as they can around the corner. Orlando and Hattie take the lead but June lags behind: she isn’t as fast as the others. In a split-second decision Miles grabs her hand and pulls her along with him as they dart down a side street to get the group of boys chasing behind them off their trail.

A few minutes later they arrive at the park in the centre of town, very out of breath but having managed to escape. Orlando leads them to the corner of the park where there’s a picnic bench they can all sit on and eat the cold food that they’d managed to keep a hold of as they ran. Orlando and Hattie sit on one side, June and Miles sit on the other. They don’t seem to want to let go of each other’s hands.

“Uh, here’s your bag, Hattie… I didn’t get the chance to give it back.”

“Thanks, Orlando. Seriously, they would have given it back at some point, so you didn’t have to go through all that for me.”

“Don’t be stupid. I didn’t even tell them in the end. I was going to as well. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.” He breathes a big sigh, “I want to. I want everyone to know. I just can’t tell people.” He shakes his head, “You wouldn’t even know if you hadn’t -” He stops short, never finishing the sentence. “Never mind.” Hattie rests her hand on his shoulder comfortingly,

“I don’t think they’re listening, Orlando. Say whatever you want,” She says, gesturing across the table towards June and Miles, who are still holding hands and appear to have gotten closer to each other in the short time that Orlando was talking.

“No, I want them to know.” Orlando clears his throat to get Miles’ and June’s attention. They look at him, slightly startled after being brought out of their trance.

“I want you guys to know what my secret is.” He says bashfully, going bright red. Hattie nods at him encouragingly. “I… you’re my best friends. The best friends I’ve ever had, and the best friends I could ever wish for. I want you to know… I’m gay. Hattie only knows because she saw me with her brother. We’re going out.” He looks at Miles and June, obviously expecting a reaction of some sort.

Miles whistles slowly,

“Her brother? And she doesn’t care?” Orlando smiles and nods,

“Somehow, yeah.”

“Okay, well it’s great that you felt like you could tell us.” Miles says supportively. June has been sat in silence this whole time.

“June…?” Orlando asks, unable to hide the nerves from his voice,

“Hmm?” She asks,

“Err… you okay with that?” June nods,

“‘Course I am.” She looks confused, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Why were you so quiet then?” Orlando asks.

“Well, it doesn’t really matter, does it? It doesn’t change anything in our friendship so I didn’t feel that there was anything to say.” She replies with a warm smile. Miles squeezes her hand under the table.

“Oh, and just in case you got the wrong idea from me… I don’t care either… I just meant it in a jokey way, like maybe Hattie was protective of her brother and…” He pauses, blushing slightly, “Sorry, I’m babbling. You get my point.”

Orlando lets out a huge sigh of relief, some of his tension visibly leaving him, taking a great weight off his shoulders.

“Thanks guys… thanks for being so supportive.” Orlando smiles and the others pretend not to notice the tears glistening in his eyes as they all tuck into their food, happy in each other’s company.

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The Present That Was Left Behind – Chapter Three

His script clutched tightly in his hand, Miles makes his way to classroom 9b, where he said he’d meet Hattie, June and Orlando. He hasn’t actually told Hattie that Orlando’s coming along too, but he hopes she’ll be okay with it.

As he walks through the packed corridors, he passes Orlando’s group of friends, milling around their lockers close to the classroom that he’s heading for. Miles sighs, wishing that he could avoid an encounter with them, but he guesses that it’s not possible. And he guesses right.

“Hey, look, it’s the gay Santa!” One of them calls at the rest of them laugh, except for one of them. Standing in the middle of the gaggle is Orlando, who looks quite uncomfortable. Miles wonders whether or not he’s actually going to come to the rehearsal or whether he’s going to chicken out, but at that moment he grabs something from his locker then pushes past his ‘friends’ and makes a beeline for Miles. The boys are all stunned for a moment, but then regain themselves when they see Orlando give a half-smile to the shorter boy.

“Hey, ‘lando? What’cha doin’?” They call, but Orlando just ignores them and joins Miles as they walk into the classroom. He looks pained to do so but once the classroom door closes behind them he breathes out heavily, a sigh of relief.

“Sorry about them.”

“Err, no problem.” Miles shrugs, “Are they always like that?” Orlando nod,

“I suppose, yes… Well, more so now than when I first met them. They were different back then.”

“Hmm.” He says, and the conversation dwindles into awkward silence, thankfully soon broken by June and Hattie, coming through the door together, laughing about something, June a very vibrant shade of red.

“Hello,” He greets them as they enter the classroom, June flushing even brighter and Hattie giggling a little. “Orlando is here, I’m sure that’s okay?” He asks, with a slight pleading tone to his voice. Hattie and June are in fact fine with Orlando’s presence, just as long as he behaves himself, and does not have any of his friends with him. Soon, the oddly matched four pull out their scripts and get on with their rehearsal, Hattie giving them all tips in a kind, helpful way, and Miles quietly growing with confidence as he delivers his lines, still painfully shy, but improving.

As they practice the scene where the missing present is discovered to be missing, which involves all four of them, Hattie bossily (but kindly) sends June to sit under the imaginary tree and Orlando to the imaginary wings. Instead of going to where he is sent, however, the tall boy walks over to June and bashfully looks down at his shoes as he speak.

“I’m sorry for saying that you’re a bad actor. You know, when I was looking at the list.” He mutters quietly to her, but she hears well enough and gives him a comforting smile. Before the rehearsal she wouldn’t have dreamed of ever doing such a thing, but over the course of the lunch break they had all grown more comfortable around each other.

“It’s okay.” She smiles back. Just as she says this Hattie looks down at her watch and gasps as she realises the time.

“We’ve all got to go and have lunch now: lessons start again in 10 minutes!” Quickly they shove the desks they had moved back into position and make for the door, but just as they reach it Orlando’s group of friends burst in, laughing loudly.

“How’s the little party in here going then, eh?” One asks cockily, looking judgingly at Hattie, June and Miles. His gaze skips to Orlando and his expression is a mix of a glare and a question.

“All having a little gay chat together are you?” Another chimes in, stepping forward and giving Miles a little shove.

“Just leave them alone.” Orlando mutters, and the group of boys turn to him.

“What was that, ‘lando?” “Yeah, you sticking up for these idiots?” “Why you doing that, ‘lando?” They ask in a clamour of voices and he begins to go red, but Miles can see the anger and determination building in him.

“Why you hanging out with this gay bunch-”

“Shut up!” Orlando suddenly shouts, cutting them all off and glaring menacingly at them. “Shut up about them being stupid, and gay!”

“Calm down,” “Yeah, it’s just banter.” “They’re cool with it.”

“No.” Orlando interrupts, “And if they are, they shouldn’t be. I’m certainly not.” He takes a deep breath, “They are nice people. Nicer than you ever were.” He shakes his head.

“Orlando…” Hattie starts softly, but stops herself.

“What if I had a secret? Something that shouldn’t matter, but does?” He continues, “What if I had this secret, that I don’t trust you, my friends, enough to tell in fear that you will do something. I don’t know what, but something. And I can’t tell you this secret, and it is so stupid, but Hattie knows. She doesn’t care. She is nice about it. We’d hardly even spoken before, and now I trust her more than I trust any of you. That’s twisted.” He shakes his head, seemingly finished.

“Alright then, you gonna tell us or what?” One of Orlando’s friends asks dumbly.

“NO.” Orlando bellows, leaving the classroom and banging the door shut behind him. His new trio of friends hurry after him to make sure he is alright, and take him to lunch.

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The Present That Was Left Behind – Chapter Two

Mrs Greenwood stands powerfully in front of the stage, watching silently as her students trickle in. Orlando Knavesmire is the last one to enter, sauntering in with his hands in his pockets and not a care in the world. She shakes her head in annoyance and sucks on her teeth.

“I assume all of you have seen the cast list by now and are aware of your roles.” There is a general murmur of agreement among the group of fifteen year olds.

“Let’s start with the first scene. Get into position.” A rush of bodies head towards the stage, some disappearing into the wings. One boy hangs behinds, visibly nervous.

“What is the matter, Miles dear?” The boy squeezes his hands together and smiles timidly.

“I have been cast as Santa…” He hesitates, so the teacher nods supportively. “There must have been a mistake. I’m not even taking drama lessons.” He stops, looking up at the lady bashfully through his glasses.

“There has been no mistake Miles. I want this cast to be as strong as possible, and I believe that you would make the perfect Santa Claus. I’d like you to try, please.” The shy boy flushes an embarrassed shade of red.

“Sorry.” He whispers, before trudging up the stairs and getting into position.

With Miles now stood in the centre of the stage, the rehearsal can begin. Hattie bounds on, scriptless, having already learnt all her lines.

“It’s almost time, Santa! You need to get ready to set off.” She beams, full of energy.

“In fact, actually, Miles, I think you should start off stage then come on as she says that. Yes? Good. Let’s do that line again.” Mrs Greenwood interrupts, making a note on her script. Miles quickly makes his way off stage, glad to be out of the limelight, if only for a brief moment. Hattie bounds back on, just as enthusiastic as last time, to repeat her line.

“It’s almost time, Santa! You need to get ready to set off.” She smiles supportively at Miles, who blinks at her through his thick glasses then down at his script.

“I, uh, um…” He trails off as he tries to find his line.

“Oh yes, Mrs Claus, I will go and get ready now.” He says mechanically, struggling to hold his tears back as he sees Orlando’s friends at the back of the auditorium, laughing at him.

“You must get a move on, you haven’t much time!” Hattie says as Molly, Orlando and Sam (the students playing elves 1, 2 and 3) trudge on. Molly and Sam are pretending to drag a bag of presents behind them, as they don’t yet have the props. Orlando should be doing this too but instead he saunters on with his hands in his pockets and his rolled-up script tucked under his arm.

“Here you are, Santa Claus!” Molly beams at Miles. There is an awkward silence and everyone turns to look at Orlando, who is smiling cockily at his friends.

“Orlando! Pay attention! It’s your line.” Mrs Greenwood snaps at him, turning to glare at his gaggle of friends at the back.

“Oh right. Um, yeah, here are the presents.”

“They’re all ready to go on the sleigh.” Sam squeaks, obviously trying to do an elf voice but just ending up sounding like his voice is breaking. This prompts another outburst of laughter from Orlando’s gang at the back.

“I appreciate the effort Sam, but perhaps let’s save elf voices until a bit later, yes?” Mrs Greenwood tucks her pen behind her ear after marking something on her script then stands up, gesturing around the stage as she directs the students.

“Now Molly, Orlando and Sam, you put the bag of presents onto the sleigh. Yes, Orlando, I know there is currently no bag or sleigh, you’ll just have to pretend. Now Kelsey, Kelsey, where are you? There you are, you should have come on stage with the elves, okay? As they lift the bag up you’re going to shuffle to the side, like you’ve been dropped out of the sack, okay? Now it’s important that no-one notices you, so no-one look in Kelsey’s direction, okay? Once the bag in on the sleigh, Miles, you climb in. Then the sleigh is going to be pulled off. Just walk off for now, we’ll get the sleigh soon enough. Elves and Mrs Claus, you all wave as Santa leaves, then turn and walk off stage on the opposite side. Okay? Now the only person that should be left on stage is Kelsey. Now, Kelsey, it’s your line.” She sits back down again, taking the pen from behind her ear and making another scribbled note on the side of her script.

“Oh no, they’ve left me behind! A child is going to be very disappointed when they wake up tomorrow with no present.”

-§§§-

After a good hour or so of rehearsals, things are beginning to end and Miles takes the opportunity to hide backstage. Unfortunately for him, Orlando and his gang of friends are already there, all smirking in his direction.

“Great work, Miles.” One of them calls out sarcastically. “I can practically see your confidence growing.” He turns back to his friends, who all begin to laugh, Orlando surprisingly looking quite uncomfortable. Out of the corner of his eye, Miles spots June, the Remembered Present, hanging around the outskirts of a group of girls and trying to ignore Miles’ teasing. He looks away from the group of boys and stares at his feet, not knowing what to do. They seemingly find this hilarious though, shouting a new onslaught of ‘banter’ at him.

At this, June has had enough, and turns around, taking a few steps towards them.

“Hey.” She blushes a furious red, “Stop, please. Miles hasn’t done anything…” She trails off, joining Miles by staring bashfully at her own feet.

“Who’re you to speak?” Jeers one of the boys, “His girlfriend?” They laugh again, one of them saying,

“Can’t be. The guy’s obviously gay.” This receives even more laughter, but not from Orlando, who is looking even more uneasy. Miles’ glasses fog up from his embarrassment, worsened by the tears welling in his eyes.

Footsteps pound loudly towards them from the stage. Neither of the two shy students dare to look up.

“For goodness sake!” Cries Hattie, “Leave the poor guy alone.” she shakes her head, “None of you can act as well as Miles, and I know for a fact that one of you,” She says, glaring pointedly at Orlando, “Has a secret that he would certainly not want any of you to find out by mistake.” The colour drains from Orlando’s face as he shakes his head.

“Please Hattie, no.” She smiles sadly,

“I wouldn’t. It is you that will tell them some day.” She nods knowingly as Orlando rakes his hand through his hair, ignoring the questioning stares from his friends.

“Miles, mate. Sorry.” He pauses, “That was quite uncalled for… It was mainly them though… not me.” He nods in the direction of his group of friends. None of the others apologise, but Hattie doesn’t press them anymore, instead leading June and Miles out of the hall and into the corridor outside.

“What’s Orlando’s secret?” June asks Hattie with nervous excitement.

“Nothing bad, I promise. But I know he wants to tell people; he is just scared.” She pauses, “It’s his secret to tell though, sorry.” June shrugs in response.

“Thanks for that…” Miles pipes up quietly. “Really. Thank you.”

“Ignore what they said, you were great, really.” Hattie said as she skipped away, back to where Mrs Greenwood was sitting so they could talk about drama stuff. June gave him a weak smile before melting away into the shadows, leaving Miles standing on his own in the wings. Well, he wasn’t technically alone, as half of the year group were milling around him, but he was alone in his own little bubble, just him and his thoughts.

He leans against the cool wall for a few moments, invisible to the rest of the world as his mind races. He doesn’t know what to do; he knows what he wants to do, but that isn’t necessarily what he should do. He sighs, making a decision hastily and walking back onto the stage. He clears his throat fairly loudly, blushing when people turn to look at him, Orlando, June and Hattie among the faces staring up at him. Mrs Greenwood frowns up at him,

“Are you alright, Miles?” She asks, slightly irritated that her conversation with Hattie on how the first scene should be set out is interrupted.

“I’d like to make an announcement.” He says, stuttering over his words as everyone looks up at him in silence.

“I’m quitting the show.” The portly drama teacher looks taken aback by this sudden surge of confidence.

“I’m afraid that isn’t possible, Miles. Look at what you just did there, look how you projected your voice and the confidence you spoke with. You are my Santa Claus.” And with that, she walks out, leaving Miles, slightly stunned on the stage, and the rest of the cast looking up at him in shock.

“Miles!” Hattie runs towards him excitedly, “That was brilliant.” She smiles warmly, “I knew you would find your feet on the stage!”

“Err, actually… I wanted to quit.” He tells her sheepishly, “Doesn’t really look like I have much of  choice though.” He shrugs,

“So you’ll do it?”

“Looks like it, doesn’t it? I’m not allowed to quit even if I want to.” Miles snaps at her in a sudden burst of anger, catching sight of Orlando’s group of friends at the back laughing and doing mean impressions of him. Hattie looks slightly taken aback at meek Miles finally speaking out for himself, but recovers herself quickly.

“Hey, why don’t you come and practice your lines with me? I said I’d meet June tomorrow lunch so we can block out some of the scenes as she’s going to be missing a couple of the rehearsals – why don’t you come along and we can practice?”

“Uh, yeah, okay. Thanks Hattie.” Miles says quiety. “I’m sorry for snapping at you. I’m just a bit nervous about this whole thing… I’ve never been the main part for anything before.”

“Really?” Hattie asks, genuinely surprised, “Obviously you’ve never tried out properly.” Miles shrugs, not wanting to admit that she is in fact correct with her assumption. “Right, sorry Miles, but I’ve got to go… my mum’s texted that she is waiting outside.”

“Okay then,” Miles smiles goodbye as Hattie waves, beginning to walk away. Looking up, he can see that the hall has practically emptied of students, most of them having left to go home.

Just as Miles has picked up all his things and is about to leave, Orlando rushes up to him, surprisingly not surrounded by his group of friends.

“Miles…” He bites his lip, “Hi.”

“Um, hello?” Miles replies.

“I just wanted to say… err.” Orlando pauses, obviously not very comfortable with the situation. “If you want to go through lines or something, that would be cool. I mean, we’re in a lot of scenes together and I could do with someone to practice with so… ” He hesitates, “And err, sorry about earlier. Seriously, they go too far sometimes.” Miles ducks his head shyly,

“No worries.” He smiles and runs his hand through his dark hair. “Actually, I was going to go through lines with Hattie and June.”

“Oh,” Orlando says, deflated, quickly hiding his disappointment.

“You can come, if you want… That’s what I meant, when I said about June and Hattie…” He trails off.

“Uh, sure, I guess. When are you doing it?” He asks, obviously a bit flustered at the proposition.

“Tomorrow lunchtime.”

“Yeah, sure, I’ll come. Tomorrow lunchtime. Right, I’ll be there.” He says, nodding his head, then turning and briskly leaving, leaving Miles standing alone in the auditorium.

“Right, bye then…” Miles calls to Orlando’s back. He shakes his head, knowing that it will be hard work, but he might just end up enjoying the play after all.

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The Present That Was Left Behind – Chapter One

Mrs Greenwood claps her hands together, calling for the attention of the bustling hall. After a moment, she gains control, the geeky drama kids practically drooling as they sit on the edge of their seats at the front, waiting for her to speak.

“Right then, Year 10. As you all know, the Christmas Play is coming up at the end of next week.” A loud groan comes from the majority of students but she simply shushes them without comment and continues.

“As we only have a week until the night of the performance, there will be rehearsals each evening – other than weekend, of course – to ensure it’s up to the best of standards.” Another loud groan.

“We are going to be doing the auditions today, and everyone is going to be taking part. That includes you, Orlando Knavesmire.” She adds as she sees a tall boy at the back roll his eyes to his friends then begin to shuffle towards the door at the back of the hall, obviously planning to escape and bunk off the auditions. The boy – Orlando – grudgingly returns to his huddle of friends and the rather plump drama teacher continues her pep talk.

“Right, so. The big moment; the play itself. This year we are doing to be putting on the show of…” She pauses for a ridiculously long time, and the drama kids are all leaning forward, momentarily abandoning their indie fronts in anticipation. “‘The Present That Was Left Behind’ – I’m sure somebody can come up with a more creative name, but you get the idea.” Even the drama enthusiasts visibly deflate as she says this, not at all impressed.

“But miss,” Comes a voice from the back of the hall and she looks to where it’s coming from. “That’s such a babyish and stupid play!” The source of this rather blunt statement is Orlando again, sitting confidently back in his chair with his gaggle of mates around him, his feet on the back of the chair in front, and a cocky smirk on his face. Mrs Greenwood’s expression darkens as she glares at the insolent boy, her mood turning sour as her play is insulted. If there’s one thing that her students know, it is to never insult her plays.

The drama kids perk up again as a result of this, jumping at the possibility of defending their beloved drama teacher and their precious art form.

“I’ll have you know, Orlando Knavesmire, that it is not a babyish play at all, and I will not stand for you to say that. In fact, for that comment, you can be the first to audition. Come on up here, immediately, and see if you can live up to your namesake.”

“Who’s my namesake?” Orlando asks as he rolls his eyes at his friends again and grudgingly scrapes his chair back so he can walk up to the stage at the front.

“Orlando Bloom, of course. Honestly, don’t you know anything about drama?”

-§§§-

Miles Strongton, one of the quietest, most polite boys that teachers ever have the fortune of having in their class nervously approaches the drama board that lunchtime, when there is no crowd of people around it. He looks to the bottom of the list, slightly panicked when his name doesn’t appear as a filler part, frantically scanning his way up the list until he reaches his name. It is right at the top. The colour drains from his face as he stands and silently blinks at up at the list.

All of a sudden a large object comes barrelling into him and he stumbles backwards slightly before regaining his composure. Standing before him, a bright beaming smile on her face, is Hattie Miller. Hattie is well known around the school for being one of the most excitable students, and is always heavily invested in every drama performance that goes on.

“Congratulations Miles!” She practically shouts in his ear, wrapping her arms around him in a tight hug. “I saw you got the main part! Well done! You must be so pleased!”

“Um, Hattie… Hi. Yes, it appears so. I assume it is a mistake though – I’ll have to ask Mrs-” He is quickly cut off.

“No! Of course it isn’t a mistake, Miles. Your audition was amazing – we could have done with you in ‘Carrie’s War’ last year – that was a disaster.” She stops for a moment, “Sorry; I’m rambling.” She smiles and rolls her eyes. “It will be nice working with you,” And she skips off.

Miles shakes his head, slightly dazed by the crazy explosion of Hattie. He runs his finger up the list until he finds her name – she has an important part and will be playing the Mrs Claus to his Santa. He takes a deep breath, unsure whether to be pleased or petrified – secretly, he has always loved drama, but been too scared to admit it. Perhaps this would be a turning point for him. Or not.

As he turns to leave he almost walks straight into another person, and when he raises his head he sees that it is none other than Orlando Knavesmire. Miles has always been slightly scared of Orlando and has stayed out of his way for all the years they’ve been at the same school together, but now there is no avoiding confrontation.

“Oh, hey Miles,” Orlando smirks, his eyes quickly darting up and down the list. “I see you got the part of the big guy himself – well done. Shame really, I would have loved to have played him, but good on ya.” His tone is dripping with sarcasm. The gaggle of boys that surround him chuckle and smirk to themselves, and Miles feels himself turning bright red. 

“Alas, I only got the part of Elf 2. But oh well, at least I’m not playing ‘the present’, like that little June Carter is. That’s the sign of a bad actor.” At this comment the whole group breaks out in raucous laughter and wander off together, revealing June Carter herself standing behind them. Miles can see tears glistening in her eyes as she sturmbles away, avoiding eye contact with everyone as she weaves her way down the crowded corridor.

Momentarily flustered, Miles makes the decision to talk to her.

“June,” He calls after her, causing her to turn at the unfamiliar voice. She sees him and her hand lingers on the door handle, not opening it as she had obviously originally planned to. He takes the opportunity to run up to her, “June, right?” He smiles in a friendly way, rather awkwardly but with good intentions. “I’m Miles.” She sniffs and says in response,

“I know. Wait, sorry… I mean ‘Hi.’”

“Hello.” He opens his mouth, but then closes it again, unsure of what to say. “Hey… um – are you alright?” She bites her lip and stays silent, looking down at her shoes.

“I mean, sorry, um, yeah. But the Present is quite a big part, if you see my point? I mean, the whole play’s about you.” He gives a nervous laugh. She stays silent, not joining in his laughter and just making the whole thing seem even more tense and awkward.

“Thanks, but… actually – I’m not that present. That’s Kelsey.”

“Oh… sorry about that.” He pauses, “If you don’t mind me asking… What part are you then?” Her eyes glaze over, but she blinks away the unshed tears and answers quietly,

“I’m the Girl’s Brother’s present.” She stops, “The one that was delivered and just sits under the tree whilst they realise that the Main Present is missing.”

“Oh.” Miles stutters, not really sure what to say to that. “I guess I’ll see you in rehearsals tomorrow then?”

“Sure.” She replies quietly, before turning the handle which her hand was still on and quickly leaving.

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Blog Post #13

Hey readers!

I just thought I’d start off this post with an explanation of the title. Alice and myself have lots of ideas of stuff to put on the site in the upcoming weeks, so I’ve decided to start naming my blog post “Blog Post #Number” for a while so it’s easier to identify what is a blog post and what isn’t. The numbers just include blog posts that I’ve had a share in writing, so for example Random Mid-Week Blog 🙂 would have been Blog Post #10 as I wrote it, but Acesta este un blogul în Română!! would have been Blog Post #12 as I wrote some of it. However, shared blog posts between Alice and myself might not be named “Blog Post #Number”, but I will count them as a number when writing my next blog post. I hope this makes sense? If not, just roll with it, it’s not that important xD

So, this week, I’ve managed to do a lot of reading. I finally finished The Riverkeep by Martin Stewart on Tuesday, which was a great relief. It too me a whole month and 10 days to read it, which was a long time for me.

After finishing that I began to read a book called Flawed by Cecelia Ahern on Thursday. And it was amazing!! Honestly I love it so much, its one of the best books I’ve read this year. However, the sequel only comes out in March of next year, so I’ve got a while to wait for it *cries* I finished it yesterday (Saturday) morning, so that took me a total of 3 days to read.

Reviews have been written on both of the books mentioned above, they can be found on our Reviews and Recommendations page

After finishing Flawed I started The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while but never got around to it for various reasons, a main one having been I’ve seen a different book and have picked it up and started reading that instead, and another one being it took me forever to read the Riverkeep. I’m currently half-way through it. It’s certainly not what I expected from it, I expected it to be very different, but I like it. And I love Charlie, he’s my sweet little baby and I want to hug him xD

Any how, that’s all for this blog post. Alice and I have actually been working on a nice Christmas themed story that’s going to be posted next week, so keep an eye out for that!

Bye!

~ April

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The Smell of Old Books

The smell of old books is a wonderful thing. Science says that they smell of vanilla flowers and almonds, from the breakdown of the chemical compounds in the paper. They contain toluene and ethyl benzene, which make them smell sweet. They contain vanillin, which make them smell like vanilla. They contain 2-ethyl hexanol, which makes them smell floral. They contain benzaldehyde and furfural, which make them smell like almonds. All these factors add together to create the wonderful smell that pours out of an old book when you open it up.

But the smell of old books is so much more than that.

When you open up a book that has been opened by hundreds of people before you, that has been around for hundreds of years, you can smell their stories. You can smell the story of the small boy learning how to read, of the slave girl reading by the dim candlelight as she skives off her work, of the elderly librarian who had just found it in the archives, of the overworked mother who read it whenever she got a break. You can smell the history of it as you hold it in your hands.

You can smell the fields of green glass that the boy loved to play in. You can smell the banquet that the slave girl should have been preparing. You can smell the dust on the shelves that were too high up for the librarian to dust. You can smell the perfume of the mother that she sprayed all over herself to cover up for the fact that she didn’t have time for a shower.

You can smell the adoring love the boy felt for his father, who ever so patiently sat with him and taught him how to read. You can smell the sadness the girl experienced when she thought of her family in a far off country that she had been snatched from years ago to become a slave of the king. You can smell the fear of the elderly librarian that she would never get to see her grandchildren all grown up. You can smell the worry of the mother that she wasn’t good enough for her children, that they didn’t love her like she loved them.

An old book is so much more than some ink on paper; it’s so much more than that single story held within. There are hundreds of stories held within that smell, preserved for as long as the book is around. No matter what book it is, where it has come from, that book has a history that cannot be properly described in words. So just remember, although an iPad or a kindle may be more practical, the true experience of reading comes from an old book.

 

Source of the science stuff: x

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Your Future Self

Have you ever thought about your future self?

Have you ever wondered if you’ll find love? Have you ever wondered if you’re dating someone? Have you ever wondered if you’re married? Have you ever wondered if you have kids?

Have you ever mused about if you’ve lost contact with people? Have you ever mused about if you have the same friends? Have you ever mused about if you still get on the same with your family? Have you ever mused about the fact that you might have lost many of your friends?

Have you ever deliberated over whether you’ll have money? Have you ever deliberated that you’ve found your way in the world? Have you ever deliberated whether you’ll waste your money on things you don’t need? Have you ever deliberated whether you’ll be content with what you have, or whether you’ll want more?

Have you ever pondered upon the fact that your family will have changed? Have you ever pondered about what they’ll be like? Have you ever pondered about how your relatives will be so much different? Have you ever pondered that maybe they’ve changed so much, that your present day self wouldn’t recognise them?

Have you ever speculated about what your job will be? Have you ever speculated whether you’ll be doing what you think you want to do now? Have you ever speculated about how you might have a completely different job to what you want? Have you ever speculated about if your job will be enough, or if you’ll want something more interesting?

Have you ever thought if you’ll be happy? Have you ever thought if you’ll be sad?

Have you ever thought about your future self?

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Acesta este un blogul în Română!!

Hei cititori!

+ Acest lucru este Alice si Aprilie aici, scriind un post pe blog comun împreună. Acum, s-ar putea să nu fie înțeles acest lucru, așa cum este scris în limba română (nu vorbesc limba română, am folosit Google Traduceți, deci scuze dacă este foarte prost scrisă română). Ne-am decis să facem acest lucru pentru că în octombrie am luat o pereche de vedere din România, așa că ne-am gândit că ar fi frumos să scrie în limba Română. (De asemenea, doar pentru a vă anunța paragrafele cu + la începutul sunt scrise de mine, Aprilie, iar paragrafele cu Directiva pentru – la început sunt scrise de Alice)

–  Alice aici – am de gând să fiu sincer cu tine, aceasta a fost ideea tot din aprilie, astfel încât să puteți mulțumesc ei dacă încă lectură, adică. Așa că hi! Mi se pare personal foarte greu să ne imaginăm că există oameni din întreaga lume (acordat un număr foarte mic, dar totuși …), care de fapt, ia timp pentru a citi ceea ce am postat. Așa că, vă mulțumesc pentru a face asta, ne face atat foarte foarte fericit 🙂

+ Da multumesc! Am luat chiar unele puncte de vedere din America o dată! Din păcate, nu putem scrie în american, deși, Google traduce nu pare să aibă această opțiune pentru un motiv oarecare…

– A fost aprilie încercând să fie amuzant … ^^^

+ Da, cuvântul cheie fiind “încercarea” xD

– Recent, noi (mai ales pe mine) nu au fost foarte active deloc, atât de rău :/ Eu promit că vor exista o mulțime de mai multe blog-uri regulate și posturi – de fapt, noi scriem o poveste cu tematică de Crăciun în ultimele câteva zile pre -christmas, scriindu-l așa cum am scrie acest lucru, de fapt. Asa ca, cu siguranta se uite pentru că unul, și va fi mult mai multe vor apărea în curând, așa cum am fost amândouă fac o mulțime de scris recent.

+ Da, ca Alice tocmai a spus, asigurați-vă că pentru a verifica unele din lucrurile interesante care le-am luat planificat. Sunt într-adevăr așteaptă cu nerăbdare să toate de el și așa ar fi foarte recunoscător dacă ați putea da o citire! 🙂

– Sper cu adevărat că acest lucru a lucrat traducerea în mod corespunzător, dar dacă nu, și pentru cititorii noștri vorbitori de limba engleza, am atașat o versiune în limba engleză de mai jos, care, gândindu-mă la asta este un pic inutil cu adevărat. Acest blog a fost ceva dintr-un proces, așa că, dacă vorbesc limba română și acest lucru are sens pentru tine, vă rugăm să ne anunțați, prin e-mail: writeaweek@gmail.com, instagram: @writeaweek, sau Tumblr: @write-a-week

Pa!

(translation below)

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