Thursday 26 November, 2009:
Space is at a premium. Somehow I manage to find a room of requirement during my non-contact, and then it isn’t long before I begin to get the usual emails from teachers about Tau roaming. These communiques have been cc’d to Deans and DPs, so I reply speedily (and perfunctorily) that I’ll go sort the situation.
I go out and see Tau striding along with Simeon in tow. When he sees me, a look of relief comes over his face.
I begin, “Tau, I’ve been getting emails already…”
“I’m not roaming,” he tells me earnestly. “I’m looking for you; I was looking all over the place. And Miss – I’ve brought Nio.”
At that, Nio staggers into view, his eyes red and swollen, and rolling; and a kind of helpless, puppy-like trust in them as he sees me.
“We tried to find you,” says Tau. “We tried to find you everywhere.”
Back in the ROR, Nio stumbles to a chair and sits there in gratitude. “Do I look straight?” he asks, in good faith.
“No, you look like you’ve gone all the way to Jupiter – what are you even doing here?” I scold.
“My dad dropped me off. I’ve got a Science exam this afternoon, but then I had a sesh,” he tells me.
“Oh Nio… what a dick you are,” I say, and Tau and Simeon splutter with laughter.
Nio pulls and bumps his chair along the floor towards me, and rests his head on my shoulder, making the other two grin. I can’t help feeling tender towards him, and just let him stay there.
“Can you put some music on, Miss?” he sighs. “Fuck, I’m wasted aye.” And then, suddenly he says, “Miss, everyone thinks I’m a crack up guy, a hard out clown, but –” he continues, “I’m straightforward with you, aye Miss?”
I’m amazed, because it’s the exact word I used yesterday.
“Yes, you are,” I tell him, and he leans against me, saying, “It’s good Miss, to be straightforward sometimes… that’s gangsta.” He closes his eyes, murmuring, “Can I have Bonethugs?”
“Alright, but something quiet – what do you want?”
“Thuggish Ruggish Bone.”
I bring it up, let it load, and then it kicks in.
Simeon and Tau move their chairs round to flank us. Tau’s breathing becomes deep and regular at my ear, and I say, “It sounds like you’re falling asleep, Tau.”
“He’s having a little moe,” says Simeon.
And thank God for the room of requirement, today. Because they’ve got no other place to go, and I’m trusting fate to be kind.
Nio’s okay by interval but, “Keep away from teachers,” I caution him. “And Tau, you’re coming to assembly with me, alright?”
“No, Miss…” he pleads. “Why is it at the gym? I don’t want to go. I hate it when there’s all those people, I don’t like it. ”
“I know, I know – but you can’t roam, all the teachers are onto you. Please Tau, just for me today?”
“Alright…” he agrees. “But can I sit by you?”
“And I won’t have to sit on the floor?”
“No – you can sit at the side with me,” I tell him.
He accompanies me to the gym after interval, and Marjorie looks at us approvingly as we go past.
When we get there, Tau sees Noa, and relaxes slightly. I direct them to a side bench – though juniors are supposed to sit on the floor.
I say to Morris, “I’ve put Tau over here by Noa, ok?”
“Great,” he tells me, and then, alarmingly, “I’ve just emailed the DP’s – I’ve recommended Tau goes to the Youth Unit next term.”
My brain lurches, thinking of Tau, who hates change and new people – being stranded at the Youth Unit. I mumble something about talking about it later, but I feel sick
After assembly finishes: “What room will you be in?” Tau asks.
“I have to do duty – I won’t be able to go to a room.”
“Duty!” he says in disgust. “What duty?”
“I have to sit in the block and check people’s passes and stuff if they come in.”
“I don’t care!” he announces. “I’m coming with you anyway!”
“Okay, that’ll be alright,” I assure him, and he relaxes.
But I know I have to tell him.