I think I knew, if I was honest, then and there, that this was not just about the tie and the loss of a knot. It was the loss of Hector I couldn't stand. If only I knew where they had taken him. If only I knew he was all right, then maybe the knot in my stomach the knot which got tighter every day would go away.
SevenHector said the tie stood for something different. It was just the same as a collar round a dog's neck. It said you were a part of something more than you alone would ever be. Hector said a uniform was a way of making us all the same, just numbers, neat boy-shaped numbers to be entered in a book. Hector wasn't a neat number and I think they might have rubbed him out, but I can't be sure of that. What I knew was that Hector was right. The knotted tie represented survival.
The corridor smelled of disinfectant, milk, boys' pee, and polish. The striplights looked to me like loneliness. They were too bright; they revealed everything. They made the emptiness ten times worse, showed me there was no Hector. A glass door banged and Miss Phillips, one of the school wardens, came out of her office carrying a cup.
"What are you doing, Treadwell?" .
She had a hard, no-nonsense voice but I'd seen her in the queues like everyone else, getting a little extra on the side. She looked down the corridor and up at the camera that went round like clockwork. She waited until the all-seeing eye was turned elsewhere, then without a word she tied my tie, re-buttoned my shirt. She checked the camera, put her finger to her lips, and waited for it to turn back on us before saying in the same, no-nonsense voice, "Good, Treadwell. Now that is how I expect you to arrive at school every day."
Never would I have thought that the hard-boiled Miss Phillips had such a soft, sweet center.
NineThe headmaster's office had a seat outside, a long bench, wood hard, bum sore, and just a bit too high. I reckon that was the genius of the seat because you ended up sitting there looking small and less of anything, with your feet dangling and your knobbly knees blushing red. And all you heard was the sound of your classmates hardly daring to breathe. I sat there waiting for the bell to ring, which meant Mr. Hellman will see you now. I sat and waited, time drip-ticking away.
Excerpted from Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner. Copyright © 2013 by Sally Gardner. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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