Saturday, December 29, 2012


“Pass me the next box,” Juan called out.
            Ajay didn’t hear him—he was lost in his own thoughts again.
            “Hey! Ajay!” Juan shouted louder. “I said pass me the next box.”
            “Sorry about that,” said Ajay. He reached down, picked up the last box, then carefully climbed onto the first rung of the ladder.
            “This is the last one,” he said, reaching up into the storage loft.
            Juan took it from him and disappeared from view. Moments later he returned, a satisfied grin across his face. He reached up, pulled the light chord, then climbed down the ladder.
            “Well, that was the last of the Christmas decorations,” Juan said as he lifted the door shut. “The headmaster said we could have the rest of the day to ourselves once we were finished. What do you want to do?”
            Ajay just stared at the floor.
            “Hello! Ajay! Hola! Namaste!” Juan shouted.
            “What? Sorry,” said Ajay. “I was just thinking again.”
            “Homesick still?” Juan asked. “Everyone will be back in a few weeks, then school will be back to normal.”
            “I know, I know. I just would have liked to gone home, that’s all,” Ajay said.
            “Well then you should have asked Santa for plane tickets home,” Juan said with a chuckle.
            Ajay blushed.
            “What’s wrong?” asked Juan.
            “Um . . .” started Ajay, “I actually did.”
            Juan laughed, then put his arm around Ajay.
            “That is what makes you so awesome, Ajay. You’re the most honest person I have ever met,” said Juan. “But you need to relax some.”
            With that Juan tightened his arm into a head lock. Before Ajay could react Juan gave him a quick yet fierce noogie.
            “Ow!” said Ajay as he pushed Juan away. “What was that for?”
            “Now all you can think about is your head hurting, right?” smiled Juan.
            Ajay stopped, then started laughing. He put his arm around Juan, still smiling, then went for his own headlock. Juan pushed him away and started laughing.
            “See? You feel better right?”
            Both boys started to circle each other, each looking for a chance to strike. Suddenly, the entire building shook with a loud explosion, almost knocking both boys over.
            Having regained their footing, the two boys stood there, staring at each other. Both of them were unsure of what to do next. After a few long minutes passed they heard the sounds of someone running up the stairs.
            It was the headmaster.
            “Oh thank heavens,” the headmaster sighed. “I was almost knocked out of my chair. You boys seem to be fine, are you not?”
            “Yes, headmaster,” they replied in near unison.
            “Good to hear,” replied the older man. “I have got some bad news.”
            The two boys exchanged quick glances, unsure of where this conversation was going.
            “There has been an accident, as I am sure you are aware,” started the headmaster. “A pipe ruptured on the main boiler. I am afraid the school will be without adequate heat for some time.”
            Once again the boys exchanged glances, each giving the other a look of surprise.
            “I know how much fun you were having being here between semesters,” started the headmaster. “However, unfortunate as it may be, you will both have to return home for the remainder of the holiday. My secretary is already notifying your parents. Also, the school will take care of all travel arrangements. Both of you will be out on the first available flights tonight.”
            Ajay dropped to his knees and buried his face in his hands.
            The head master reached over and tentatively patted him twice on the head.
            “I know, lad. This is upsetting for me as well,” the headmaster said, then turned and looked at Juan. “Once he composes himself, you two will both pack your things and wait in the lobby. A car will be here within the hour to take you both to the airport.”
            “Yes sir,” Juan said. “We’ll manage . . . somehow.”
            Ajay just sat on the floor, head in his hands, concealing his grinning face.

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