Lance Danvers, a youth of fourteen, sat waiting in the reception office of the Wilson Orphanage and Home for Boys. Just five hours ago, he had been informed that his parents had died in a car crash.i
It had been, by no means, gentle. Uniformed men had suddenly arrived at his home and asked Lance to come with them. He had hesitated, asking why. One of the men had gotten impatient and had sprung the news of his parents’ death at him.
Lance had gone into shock, his mind wiped blank of any thought. He had barely comprehended the men taking him to the car, coaxing and soothing him.
They had haphazardly stuffed some of his essential belongings into a suitcase, which now rested on the ground beside Lance’s chair.
Sitting here, waiting for the Head, made his parents’ death seem more real and daunting, Lance swallowed, blinking back tears. He rubbed his eyes, then buried his head in his hands, sniffling.
He heard footsteps and hastily wiped his eyes, looking up. A man entered, dressed smartly in a black suit and tie. He had a young, handsome face and his deep blue eyes were soft and kind. When he saw Lance, he smiled gently. He approached him, offering him a hand.
“I’m Wilson Armstrong,” he said as they shook hands. “You’re Lance, right?”
Lance nodded silently, not trusting himself to speak. Mr Armstrong turned and took a seat behind the desk. “Hey, kid,” he said, his words soft. “I’m sorry for your loss. I know this is hard. But be strong, okay?”
Lance nodded, acknowledging his sincerity. ‘I’m sorry’ didn’t make it any easier, but Lance appreciated it all the same. He looked down in his lap, tears pricking at his eyes.
Mr Armstrong leaned forwards and squeezed his shoulder. Then he picked up the phone on his desk and dialled a number.
“John, please send David Rogers into my office,” he said onto the receiver. There was a garbled reply, and then Mr Armstrong set the phone down.
There was silence for a minute, during which Lance continued to stare into his lap, subconsciously aware of Mr Armstrong watching him intently.
A knock on the door broke the silence, and a young boy entered. He looked about eighteen, with neat black hair and serious brown eyes. He carried himself straight as he walked into the office, eyes curiously darting to Lance.
“You called, sir?” he asked Mr Armstrong in a clear, confident accent.
Mr Armstrong nodded then beckoned him forward. “David, this is Lance. He’s new. I want you to take him as your temporary roommate, show him around and make him feel at home. I’ve excused you from school today, so you may spend the time with Lance.”
“Of course, sir,” David answered, though his mouth twisted in the slightest sign of a grimace.
“Good. I’ll leave you to it, then,” Mr Armstrong said, clearly dismissing them. Lance stood, picked up his suitcase, and followed David as he turned away.
An uncomfortable silence descended between the two as David led Lance through a series of halls and up a flight of stairs. Lance hesitated, before saying, “There’s no-one around.”
David smiled. “It’s school time right now. Otherwise, it’s so crowded you can barely hear yourself think.” "
There’s a school here?” asked Lance in surprise.
David nodded. “Yes. All grades, though in some there are just a few kids. You’ll find a lot of kids your age here too.”
Right,” Lance said. “So...how long have you been here?
“Nine years. I’ve been here ever since I was nine. I’ve spent half my life here.”
Lance gaped. “Aren’t kids adopted here? I mean, nine years? Wow.”
“They do,” David answered. “I don’t know why I haven’t been adopted. Guess it just wasn’t in my luck.” He looked wistful. “But that’s fine. I have plenty of friends around here.”
He finally stopped before a room with a plaque at the door that read 319. He opened the door and entered, Lance following him.
The room was not very big, but it wasn’t too small either. Two beds were positioned against the walls, small tables beside them. A closet was in the corner. A window looked out onto the busy roads of London."
You can take that bed,” said David, pointing. “The other one’s mine. You unpack; I’ll be back in a moment.” He exited and closed the door. Lance set his suitcase onto the bed, sighing as he sat down. He looked around the room, feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
Well, this was his new life. He better get used to it.