Hopscotch. Markings painted on the playground floor. A small stone and some friends. Happy times. Measuring water by pouring it from one jug to another. The floor is wet beneath my feet. The teacher picks up the class gerbil and it nips her on the finger.
The school canteen. Cheese pie. The smell makes me want to be sick. I must sit here until I have finished. I force the food into my mouth and try to swallow. Someone has wet themselves in our classroom. When the teacher finds out who, she makes him stand on his chair so that everyone can see.
Older now. A different school. Times tables. Over and over and over again. My fingers hurt from all the writing. I grow a callus on my middle finger. The school nurse is tugging at my hair as she looks for nits.
End of year. Results time. And number one in the class was … Stand up. Everyone clap. And number two in the class was …. Stand up. Everyone clap. We are still going at number thirty. But no one is clapping now.
The playground. When the whistle goes we must all stand completely still and silent. I don’t hear the whistle and continue talking. A teacher screams my name and calls me over. My heart thuds wildly in my chest. Terror. Pure. Unadulterated. Terror.
I’m at the school gates. But I don’t want to go in. I don’t want to leave my mum. I hate this place. These people terrify me. Don’t make me go in there. Fear claws at my stomach. I hold tight to her as the tears stream down my face. They try to drag me away but I won’t let go.
Outside my secondary school. Waiting for a bus. In the distance a wall of children moving towards us like a wave. They are from our rival school. Run, run for your lives.
An English classroom. A beautiful teacher with flowing auburn hair and the bluest eyes we have ever seen. Stories and happiness. A Valentine’s Day card in my locker. What, for me? From John. Strange new feelings.
A silent exam room. On the wall a clock ticks away the seconds. The seconds until I can say for the final time.
“School’s out for summer; School’s out forever.”