The International Writers Magazine
:First Day at School

Me, Myself and I
Christine Churcher

It’s my first day here today. Echoes of a time long past on another first day keep bubbling up from my belly into my throat. I push them down, telling myself not to be stupid, remembering who I am now and all I’ve been through to get here today, at this point in my life………..

It’s my first day here today. Feelings of fear freeze my mind as I stare at the page of sums in the book on my desk. I am alone in a vast room of row upon row of desks at the front of which sits Mrs. Allen, her head bowed over a book. The other children all work quietly, seeming to know… What is it they know? I just keep staring at the words on the page, hoping somehow I’ll understand.

I am frightened. Angry with Mum and Dad for making me miss the first week of a new school, missing my best friend who went on to a different one. Then, oh no, that other nightmare, needing the toilet half way through a lesson. Too scared to put up my hand to be excused, I start to wriggle on my chair, shifting to the right and left, the chair legs scrape on the floor, echoing around the room.
Mrs. Allen’s eyes scan the room. It’s as if she somehow knows, but not wishing to show kindness, will hold back from asking if I am alright, delighting silently in watching my suffering. My eyes keep boring into the words on the page as I send a silent begging prayer that somehow maybe the heavens will open and Mrs. Allen and my sum book will disappear for ever and ever amen.

A shadow looms over me. I jump in fright as Mrs. Allen’s hand grips my shoulder.
"Let me see your work," Says she.
I cannot bear to look at her face as she sucks in air between her teeth.
"Stay in at the end of the lesson," She hisses.
Panic is rising inside me now as I realise that I’ll miss my school dinner, and I need a wee so badly. Will I be brave enough to go before it’s too late?

Alone in the room now, standing beside Mrs Allen who sits at her desk, she repeats to me, "Seventeen minus seven! Seventeen minus seven!"
I don’t understand. I wasn’t here when they did minus. How can I do seventeen minus seven when no one’s told me what minus is!
Mrs. Allen is getting crosser and crosser. She picks up her brown, wooden ruler and whacks me on the legs. She is getting into a rhythm now, "Seventeen minus seven! Seventeen minus seven!" Whack! "Seven" Whack! "Teen" Whack! "Minus" Whack! "Seven" Whack! "Teen" Whack! On it goes until, oh no, I can feel the hot wee running down my legs, Mrs. Allen looking down in disgust.
"Get yourself to the lavatory, you stupid, dirty child," She seethes. "Then go to lunch!"
I scurry away, tears in my eyes as an uncontrollable sobbing rises in my throat, with a deep feeling of shame that I’d wet myself again.
© Chris Churcher Oct 2005

Chris is a Creative Arts student at the University of Portsmouth and mother of three

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