|Link I: Iron
Author: Guede Mazaka
One day you may touch what's wrong-
They kept the files in tall cabinets of enameled steel, slightly rusted at the edges but nevertheless capable of swallowing entire classes. The locks were set into small ovals at the top right corner of each, about six inches above Alec's head.
He was small for his age, but he'd learned enough tricks that no one called him on it. But that fact did make him wonder. More so when coupled with a few strange dreams, and some faint scars that no one at the school had managed to adequately explain. He could have gotten them in an accident when he was too young to remember. When his parents had him, and that was another thing: he didn't have tombstones. All but the poorest boys knew where their parents were buried, or had a plaque, or had something to mark the earth. Alec didn't. Curious, really, when he was supposed to be from gentlefolk.
But he wasn't there to investigate those mysteries, which hadn't grown any larger than a faint disturbance in the ripples of his mind. He was there to fix his Russian scores. Honestly, Pickworth had no idea what he was talking about with grammar, and just because Alec had publicly corrected him once-
A silent thanks to James for being such an incorrigible thief, and such a ready teacher, and Alec was quietly stepping off the chair he'd borrowed for a stool. He cracked open the drawer for his form and began to run his fingers down the file tabs. They flicked over his fingertips, like rain pattering on the window. Then he hissed and jerked back.
Papercut, damn it. Even though no one was around, Alec still blushed a little at thinking of a curse word. But it did hurt. He stuck his finger in his mouth and, sucking thoughtfully on it, leaned back over to examine the vicious manila tabs.
The culprit actually turned out to be a corner of stiff white stationery that poked out of his file. He tugged it out and found a neatly folded letter, inscribed with both English and Cyrillic. The foreign words were jagged, with little hairline streaks of black stabbing out from each letter as if they had been written in a hurry. Unfortunately, he couldn't yet read more than one word in five, and the time was drawing near to bed patrol. He needed to leave, but he also wanted to know what the letter said. Especially when he glimpsed the words "mother" and "father" in Russian near the bottom.
As he glanced anxiously at the clock on the nearest desk, he carefully extracted a sheet of paper and a pen from its cluttered drawer. Alec quickly copied down the letter and altered his grades, then replaced everything the way he had found it and hurried off to bed, the copy tucked securely in his pocket.
He was late, and it was going to be tight to slip into bed without being seen, but he was still smiling. Two birds taken in one go. It had been a good night's work.