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The International Writers Magazine
: Lifestyles: Growing Up: First Memories

First Memories
Gemma Williams

The heavy oak gate swung open.; I noticed dreamily that is was at least three times my height. My tiny index finger traced the grain of the rough wood, sodden due to the previous night of unforgiving rain.

Fresh, crisp, autumn wind stung my face. The dew on the shining blades of grass beneath my feet was trickling over my shiny red wellies; forming patterns that resembled icicles at Christmas time, on the stone path that ran the whole distance of my freshly mowed lawn back to my house.
Glancing absentmindedly along the uneven path, I noticed tiny ants scuttling along like miniature people in a mad rush to get somewhere. ‘Maybe their home is flooded and they have nowhere to live,’ I remember thinking sadly. Looking along my garden and up at my house I felt guilt swell up inside my chest. With a glance at the swingset and brightly colored plastic toy house on the left side of the path I smiled. Guilt within me subsided and was replaced with happiness. ‘The ants could live in my toy house!’ My world was good again.

A girl’s fresh warm voice called to me, disturbing my thoughts, "come on: I’ll race you to the park!" My face, flushed pink with the cold looked up and through the open gate. A blurred vision of woolly pink and purple with a glossy mane of black flying behind dashed towards the now damp playing field upon a hill.

Bright red on the posts of the swings was peeling, fading; the yellow and blue of the slide posts had seen better days. The day was hung with miserable clouds but the posts gleamed in the drops of rain that remained on them.

The chill from the wind as I ran freely, and looking down the grassy hill -alive with drops of rain shimmering every color of the rainbow like a handful of beautiful crystals in the sunlight made me smile, and laugh.

Absolutely uninhibitedly, in the way only someone who doesn’t know real hurt and pain, someone who’s never had to worry, in the way only a child can: I laughed.

The New Girl

I stood in the solid doorway-the white paint peeling in places to reveal bright blue beneath it-picture perfect image; gleaming, black shiny lace up shoes, vivid white knee high cotton socks with snowflake patterns cut in; fresh, crisp blue and white checkered dress hung loosely around a child’s frail frame, waist length hair pulled into a neat plait, and a nervous smile playing on my lips.

Behind me a man larger then any other human I had seen before, a person whose eyes were always full of life, intrigue and enthusiasm, whose smile resembled the moment the sun breaks out from behind a miserable cloud- my new headmaster who I would soon grow to love as you would a father and who would respect and care for me beyond the boundaries of the standard teacher-pupil relationship, stood with his monster size hand resting gently on my tiny and fragile shoulder.
"Ok class, this is the new girl, I want you to make sure she feels welcome"
These words spoken softly, so softly in fact that the noisy rabble of the class hushed in order to hear what was being said, floated over to me from across the sun filled classroom.

Dead straight, honey blond hair cascaded over shoulders covered in a baby blue flower print. The floral dress flowed around a slim figure revealing only golden ankles, adorned with heavy silver jewellery. I noted also that the toes peaking our beneath worn roman style sandals were painted a steely silver to match.
Blue twinkling eyes radiating warmth met mine; a smile beamed from my new teachers lips. A face glowing like the sun on a brilliant day continued to shine upon me.
"The new girl", how many times had I heard that phrase?

I had acted out this moment many different times, always with the same feelings of nervousness, regret and worry rising in my throat, threatening to burst out as streaming tears; but always that glimmer of hope, the possibilities of the future keeping it at bay, leaving it echoing threateningly within me.

Every time I had left a home, but every time I made a new one. Each group of friends I believed to be the best in the world were soon replaced by even better ones. Every time I panicked I wouldn’t fit in, I’d never feel at home, these people would never accept me-but as I continue trudging along the road that is life, I always manage to make a new home, there’s always someone who was just desperate for a friend like you, it never is the end of the world.

Of course that doesn’t help in the least when you are standing there, the odd one out while they are all in groups, you prey this will all work out while they simply wonder who the latest edition is.
Once again I was the new girl.
A sea of faces gazed intently upon me. Each face holding the promise of a different story to tell, behind every pair of staring eyes was a unique world, soon I would be a tiny village in each world I saw within the eyes of my future friends that sunny, fresh spring day.
© Gemma Williams December 2004

Gemma is a creative writing student at Portsmouth University

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