When Alex woke up, he looked out the window and felt disappointed because it looked as if the fine weather had finally given in to the rain, which meant he wasn't likely to be going on a run today. That would have helped take his mind off the appointment with the head shrink. He would have to talk to Justin about that as well.
There was no one in the kitchen when Alex walked in to get his breakfast. This was strange because so far there had always been someone there. He made his usual breakfast of cornflakes and sat at the breakfast bar to eat them. He was just swilling the bowl out when Sarah came in.
"Morning Sarah. You just getting up?"
Sarah moved to put the kettle on to make tea. "No, I went back to bed after Simon went to work, he had to go in early to deal with all the backlog that had built up because of the long weekend. Do you want a cup of tea when it's ready?"
"Sure. What time did you get up?" Alex sat back down at the breakfast bar so he could continue the conversation with Sarah.
"We both got up at five and he left for work about half hour later. I know he hates going in that early but the way he looks at it they pay him the big bucks to keep that place running, and he doesn't think he could ask others to do it if he isn't prepared to do it himself. There is a team of four who take it in turns to go in early after bank holidays; it's just Simon's turn this time. The good news is that he won't have to do it again until next year."
"What does Simon do? I know that his job must be important because you told me he gets paid a lot but you never really said what it was."
"Simon would tell you he is just a glorified babysitter. His job is to manage the offices of a major firm of lawyers. He keeps track of every lawyer's day, whether they should be in court or meeting with a client, he is also responsible for looking after all the secretaries and admin staff." Sarah poured a cup of tea for both of them and sat down with Alex.
"Not really, he has a good team working with him. It took him a long time to get them together mind. I hardly saw him when he first started, he didn't like some of the team he took over and there was one or two who thought he didn't deserve the job and worked against him. After the first six months he seemed to be making headway and began pulling together the team he now works with, but it wasn't until he had been in the job for a year before he was finally able to reduce the hours he was working. It was a lot of hard slog on his part and he hated having to put in so many long hours, which meant he wasn't able to spend the time with Justin he wanted to. But last year Simon was able to use his position to allow Justin to work there as part of his work experience for school."
"I don't think my father would have done that for me."
"Unless they've changed it, you should be close to doing yours?"
"I don't know, I sort of switched off when they started talking about it before Easter."
"Well, I was just thinking that maybe we could get you a place with Simon, like we did for Justin last year. It would give you a look at how an office works and you could see how a few lawyers work."
"That sounds more interesting than stacking shelves in Tesco."
"I went to work in a hospital for my work experience. I ended up having to feed one patient his meals because he had suffered a number of strokes and lost all control of his body below the neck. He couldn't even talk. It made me realise that I would hate to live like that, forever reliant on the charity of others. Not able to tell someone what you want or need. No thanks. It must have been really bad for him because he had been a headmaster for over twenty years before he retired." Sarah shivered at the thought of living like that patient.
"I don't think I could have dealt with having to do that."
"I did it because at the time I was thinking of going into medicine as a career. That soon put me off. The whole place just had a smell you can never forget."
"What plans have you got for when you finish school?"
"I'm not sure; I know my best subject is maths but I've never really spent time thinking about after school."
"I know it's got a boring reputation but if you like working with figures, there is always accountancy."
"Isn't that one of the jobs you would need to go to uni for?"
"Yes, but you can end up earning serious money with that job."
"I was always told I would never be good enough to go to university so I guess that's out of the question."
"Who said you were not good enough to get into uni?"
"My dad, he always called me stupid despite the test scores I would take home."
"You're father is unbelievable, the more I find out about him the more I find myself despising him. What made him want to have children if all he is going to do to them is treat them like crap?"
"I don't know." Alex could feel his eyes welling up. A tear escaped and rolled down his cheek.
"I'm sorry Alex, I didn't want to upset you. It's just the more I learn about that man the more I want to scream at him. He doesn't deserve to be a father. Let's change the subject, give us both time to calm down. Do you and Justin have any plans for after your appointment with the doctor?"
"I don't think so. It looks as if we won't be able to go for a run either. Maybe it's an omen to tell me to start revising for those exams."
"That sounds like a good idea. Justin probably won't tell you this, but he was a wreck leading up to his GCSE's last year."
"How come, he must have done really well or he wouldn't still be there."
"He did do well, but he had convinced himself that he hadn't revised enough and that he should have started earlier."
"Well the teachers were talking about it before we broke up for the Easter holidays. I'm not sure how much I could have done if I had still been at my parents though."
"Just remember they say that you should take plenty of breaks when you are revising to allow things to sink in."
"I will." Justin made an appearance then and his whole face lit up when he smiled at Alex.
"Morning to you too sleepy." Sarah replied.
"What do you mean, it's only just gone eight."
"You are usually up long before this, that's what I mean."
"Well we did have a busy day yesterday; it must have taken a lot out of me."
"I was just talking to Alex about what his plans were for the day and he was talking about starting his revision for his exams."
"Might be a good idea, it's raining cats and dogs out there; don't fancy going for a run in that. Don't you have to go to that doctor again today?"
"Yeah, but I thought I could do the revision around it."
"What time is it again?" Sarah asked.
"The appointment's for twelve."
"What would you say to us having lunch out afterwards?" Sarah thought it would be something nice for Alex to look forward to.
"Sounds ok with me mom." Justin replied.
"I don't mind if that's easiest." Alex thought it would be easy to go with the flow.
"Ok then, I know a nice little place where we can go. I've got some things to do upstairs so I'll leave you boys to it." With that Sarah left the kitchen.
"Listen babe, if you need help with your revision let me know, I only sat mine last year and I still remember a lot of the stuff."
"Would you be able to show me how you got started last year? I just don't know where to begin."
"How about I have my breakfast and then we'll get stuck in?"
"Are you sure you don't mind?"
"My only plans were to spend my day with you, so nothing's changed. I think it's best if we use my room, there is a desk for you to sit at, Internet if you get stuck, plenty of background music and then there's the bed for when you get tired." Justin's mouth broke into massive grin.
"Is the bed the only thing you can think of?" Alex tried to be serious when he answered Justin, just managing to keep a straight face.
"You know I'm only messing. But on a serious note, apart from the bit about the bed, everything else is true."
"I know you were only messing, I just wanted to wind you up a little. I'll go and sort out my school stuff while you finish your breakfast."
"Ok, don't be long. I miss you when you're not around." Justin's face told Alex that this time he was being serious. He still wasn't sure how he felt about that.
"It shouldn't take me too long."
"It will be easier to just take the books straight up to my room and I'll see you up there."
"Ok." Alex left Justin in the kitchen and went upstairs.
When he got into his bedroom it only took a few moments to get his school things and then he headed upstairs. While he was waiting for Justin, he sorted his books into subjects. It didn't take long to separate them and then he sorted them so that the ones he was most comfortable were at one end and the least at the other. He was able to remove some books because some of his subjects were modular; this meant he had already sat exams for those parts of the subjects. After he had done all of this, he sat on the computer chair waiting for Justin. He wasn't there for long before Justin came in.
"So how do you want to do this?" Justin asked.
"How did you do it last year? It's not like I haven't studied for exams before, it's just I haven't had exams like these before."
"Ok, have you got your exam timetable yet?"
"No, I was supposed to have got it the last day before we broke up for Easter. As you know I didn't make it to school that day because of my arm."
"Right then let's do it this way for now, what are the subjects you are not so good at?"
"Well I am not that good with Geography, French or History. English isn't too bad. Maths and Science are the best."
"Science is the easiest because you only have to deal with the work for the last two modules, so for now we'll leave that to one side. How about we work this morning on Geography and this afternoon on History, did you get any past papers for those?"
"Yeah, there are a few here."
"Good, and I should have the answer sheets here from last year as well. How about you try one of the past Geography papers and that will tell us the stuff you already remember and the bits you need to concentrate on."
"What are you gonna do? I can go downstairs so you can have your room back if you want?"
"It's ok, I'll carry on with that book you gave me yesterday. I'm really enjoying it. I'll put some music on and we won't bother keeping to the time limit on the paper, just let me know when you need a break."
With that the boys settled down to their own work. After an hour of slogging through the past paper Alex needed to stretch his legs and used the bathroom the same time. When Alex was in the bathroom Justin went down and got them both a drink. After a quick respite they returned to their tasks.
Alex finished what he could just before eleven. Rather than run through it together, Justin decided that he could go through it later on his own while Alex was doing the History paper.
"It's probably best if we get ready for going out; it's nearly time to go anyway." Justin said.
"I didn't realise it was that late. Ok, I'll catch you downstairs."
I enjoy reading what people think of the way the story is going. If you want to send me an email you can send it to: email@example.com
Thanks to all who have written to me or read this story.