The day that Owen had been dreading for weeks was finally here. It was a month since Maggy and Mrs Oakwood pulled him out of the mental hospital. In that time his parents had called every weekend, but never visited.
Now it was “Family Weekend”, a boarding school tradition in which parents would come and take their children into town for a meal or a film. Most of Owen’s classmates’ parents did so every other weekend anyway, but not his.
He did not know how they would react to seeing him. Nobody had told him whether they knew about his pocket watch, about magic. These and a hundred other worries clung to Owen like a dense cloud as he stood in his school blazer, suit trousers, shirt and house tie on the school’s front steps.
Tyres grated up the gravel drive, fathers waved and mothers rushed to hug their embarrassed children. It was like a constantly moving conveyor belt carrying happy families off into town and returning towards the red chimneys of the school with sleepy, well-fed and happy passengers.
After three hours standing on the steps, watching each car come up the drive and feeling a sinking in his gut when he realised it was not his parents, Owen admitted to himself that they were not coming. Once he had crossed that mental bridge, he understood that they had never said they would come.
It was something he had kept telling himself until he believed it. They were coming, they were coming for Family Weekend. Except they were not, and he had put on clean shoes, suit trousers and a freshly ironed shirt for nothing.
Have you read Turnkey yet?