It was not a good day for Mr. Albert when he woke that day, late. He had rushed to change and crammed the breakfast in his mouth. Mr. Albert was one of those people who get up early and go for a walk. He did everything slowly and peacefully, with no hurry. But now he had overslept. He was a principal in a boarding school and his son also went there. Today was the first day and he had been late to sleep last night because of packing slowly.
He had roused his son awake and they both had hurriedly gotten ready, eating the breakfast his wife had immediately made and was on the road soon.
Mr. Albert’s mind was wandering about his school and which new rules he would enforce upon the students. Out the corner of his eye, he saw his son take out his phone, and he immediately knew which new law to implement.
His mind was still drifting when he saw a cream color car come spinning into view. He could vaguely see a man and a young woman seating in there, talking cheerily. And the next thing he knew, he had whirled his car around. The other car also tried its best to dodge Albert’s car but both crashed wildly, and the last thing he heard was his son’s screaming voice and the screeching of other people’s car. After a while, maybe it was the time he heard the ambulance’s siren, that he lost conscious.
It’s a wonder how something can change in a second’s time.
Noah’s world was finished as he sat on his bed, crying. He was always told that boys were not supposed to cry but he couldn’t care less. He had nothing in him except pain and sorrow. He was going to die, he knew for sure, if it wasn’t for his uncle. His uncle, Tom, was doing everything he could do for Noah, but Noah was filled with emptiness no one could fill.
But after all, time heals everything.
It was Noah’s own choice to go to the boarding school. Uncle Tom was not very satisfied or happy to send him to a boarding school. According to him, Noah needed love and attention that time, there could be no possible way he could study ten. But Noah assured Uncle Tom he’ll be fine and he was allowed to go to a boarding school on some conditions. It included him writing a letter every week and telling him if he felt insecure. His Uncle also told him to keep his cell phone with him at all times and just call when there was a problem. His Uncle assured him that he was not expecting him to get good marks so there was no need to tire himself by studying a lot.
Soon enough, Noah was on his way to the boarding school his uncle had found for him. In their car, Noah asked uncle Tom what he would do now that Noah was going.
Uncle Tom was a good-humored and friendly man. His company was gold to Noah and his face reminded Noah of his father greatly. Being with Uncle Tom gave him a sense of security and Noah felt lost without him. It would be a great deal to survive without Uncle Tom.
‘Noah, my boy’ Uncle Tom said, his hazel eyes serious. ‘I will have to continue my job. It’s not the end of the world, you see, the accident. We still have to go on. Your parents left you money in inheritance but it is yours. I’ll have to earn myself.’
Smiling, he steered the car neatly in front of big strong iron gates.
Noah looked up to see gates painted black, towering above him. The name of the school was written on it. He could see grass land inside and a huge building. He turned around to see Uncle Tom gazing up too.
Then smiling, he told Noah, ’This is where we part. I would like to leave you inside but apparently the headmaster’s not here. I’ll see you in the holidays?’
Noah nodded. Then without saying anything, Noah gave Uncle Tom a hug. They stood there for a while, having each other for the last minutes before they could meet after months. Then they separated, and Uncle Tom handed Noah his bags.
‘Goodbye. Stay safe.’ He called. ‘I’ll be back in a couple of months’.
‘See you’. And with that, he knocked his fist on the giant iron gate.
Noah could make out a figure walking towards the gate. As he approached them, Noah saw that he was a thin man with hair till his shoulders. He was about Uncle Tom’s age.
‘Morning.’ He said, his voice barely audible.
Then without asking who they were, he let them in.
That was where he said his goodbyes to Uncle Tom and proceeded Inside.
He was halfway through the grassland when he noticed everything was too neat. The grass was mown and cut and there wasn’t even a rabbit in sight. He asked the man, ‘how did you hear the knock from so far away?’
The man simply answered, ‘I was near, working. That is why.’
Noah realized that he was looking at the caretaker of the school.
And then he glimpsed the first sight of his school.
He saw a gigantic, white building with a huge door at the front. Everything was so organized, Noah felt self-conscious. The caretaker left him at the door, and told him to go to his room.
‘How on earth can I know my room.’ He mumbled as he entered the school. The door was leading right into three wooden corridors. The first, Noah saw, lead directly in a hall where long tables were aligned. The other two lead up to stairs. Noah entered the hall, looking around. It was a big hall which gave the smell of paint and there were plates already set on the tables. There was a shorter table at the end, facing all the students, which Noah figured as the staff table.
Before he could suppose what to do next, a boy about three years older than him came in his view. He was wearing a prefect badge and was looking absolutely bored.
That prefect saw Noah and came over to him.
‘why are you so early?’ he asked lazily.
‘Pardon? I just came.’ Noah answered politely.
The prefect squinted at Noah and asked, ‘Are you new?’
‘Well then you have to go to your room and change into your uniform. Then come down for breakfast. You’re early.’ With that, he strolled out of sight, before Noah could ask where his room was.
‘Are all these people stupid?’ he muttered. He turned back and tried to choose which stairs to climb. The right ones or the left ones. He started climbing the right ones, when he saw a teacher climbing down the stairs. Noah knew it was a teacher because of his uniform and the strict look on his face.
‘Sir?’ he asked, hurrying up the stairs.
‘Yes boy.’ The teacher answered, staring at him.
‘I’m new. Where is my room?’ he asked.
‘Noah?’ the teacher questioned after concentrating on the wall behind Noah for a moment.
Noah nodded vigorously.
‘Thank god.’ You’re on the right time. I’m your teacher for this year.’ He ruffled through the papers in his hands. ‘yes. here. Your room number is two hundred and thirty-one. You are going to share your room with Benjamin. Go ahead. You’re on the right staircase.’ And then, the teacher was gone.
Noah climbed up the staircase to find rows and rows of rooms. He checked the numbers until he reached his room. It was a wooden door, with his room number carved on it. He hesitated, then turned the door knob and entered.
It was even bigger than he expected. It had two beds on the opposite sides with side tables and in between there were two study tables. There were two cupboards and a bathroom at the end. The other bed was occupied. A boy laid sleeping, face down, his belongings spread on the floor and on his bed. Noah walked over to the other bed, his bags trailing behind. The next thing he knew, he was lying on his bed, spread out. He realized he was tired. And hungry and sleepy. But the day was starting now.
Noah got up and started unpacking. He put his clothes and books in the cupboard and continued to unpack lazily. He was almost done and was examining his uniform when a huge bell ran across the rooms, deafening Noah’s ear.
The kid on the other bed stirred in his sleep and then opened his eyes to see Noah on the other bed. He sat up immediately and stared at Noah. He was a boy Noah’s age and he had black hair.
‘hi.’ Noah waved, uneasily.
‘You’re new.’ The boy observed.
‘yeah. I’m Noah. You must be Benjamin.’ He said, smiling.
‘yeah. Welcome, now we must change immediately or we’ll be in trouble.’ The boy, Benjamin said and went to the bathroom.
Everything was all so knew for Noah, and it took a time for him to adjust. He sent weekly letters to Uncle Tom and had become fast friends with Benjamin. He had also come to know that the headmaster, Mr. Albert, was Benjamin’s father, who unfortunately had an accident and was injured badly. Benjamin told Noah that he was in the car too at the time of the accident but only his leg was temporary injured. And Noah did notice Benjamin limping every time he walked.
That day, when Noah was sitting with Benjamin in his room, the talk turned back to parents.
‘They too had an accident like your dad. Only they were gravely injured and um……. couldn’t get to the hospital in time.’ Noah told Benjamin, his eyes reflecting terror for his parents and his voice full of grief. ‘they say the car was badly destroyed. My mom loved that car, it had a beautiful cream color and my dad had taken my mum for a ride. I was at home. I think the accident was very quick.’ Noah was talking and Benjamin was seeing the scene being repeated in his eyes as he remembered him in the back seat and his father Albert in the front and the cream car that came in their way on the first day of the new term in his father’s boarding school.