Nothing to Do But His Laces by Russell Reader
His last family was nice. Probably the nicest one that he’d ever had. But when he turned sixteen their allowance was stopped. The boy was informed that he was now a man.
A flat was provided, in one of the towers by the canal. A charity dropped off some pots and pans, an old telly, two chairs.
Here's your book, the woman at the Job Centre told him. Take it to the Post Office every other Thursday - they'll give you forty pounds. It'll stop if you ever get a job.
And so he’d just sit there, skipping between four channels, nothing to do but his laces.
He first met the other lads when he was in the shop buying more Pot Noodles and Pepsi.
One of them asked to lend a quid. He knew that he couldn’t say no. The next time it was a fiver. Before long they were walking him to the Post Office every giro day.
He only stole the bread because he was starving. He hadn't eaten for days. But the judge wanted to make an example.
Twelve weeks. Case closed.
They put him in a holding cell underneath the court, ready to be transferred.
He knew that it was his last chance; his shoes would be taken from him as soon as he arrived at the prison, swapped for Velcro pumps.
He unlaced them, and started to make a loop.