Friday, 4 March 2011

First Day

“Settle down sweetheart,”  said Helen, sliding onto the bus seat next to her daughter.

Jane shifted uncomfortably; the rough fabric of the seat pricked the back of her knees.

“I don’t want to go, Mummy.”

“You’ll enjoy it when you get there, Jane,” her mother soothed.

“But I want to play with Maggie.”

“Maggie, will still be at home when you get back. You can play with her then.”

“No, she won’t,” said Jane sullenly.

“Of course she will.” Not giving Jane the chance to reply, Helen said, “Now, have you got everything?”

Jane nodded.

Helen felt a little hurt that her daughter would miss Maggie more than her.

With her school bag clutched tightly to her chest, Jane settled and sat quietly looking out of the window. At last the bus juddered to a halt in front of the school yard.

Helen’s eyes brimmed with tears as she kissed her daughter goodbye. She watched as her little girl strode across the playground and disappeared through the door of the classroom. Tissue in hand Helen wiped her eyes, retreated from the gate and walked the few steps back to the bus stop.

The scream that came from behind her shook her rigid. The heel of her shoe snagged on the uneven pavement, as in panic, she turned seeking out the source of the scream. She was shocked to see Jane, her little legs pounding away the space across the school yard. The little girl collided with her mother, small arms wrapping round Helen’s legs.

“Sweetheart, what’s the matter?” Helen bent down and scooped the crying child into her arms.

“They are all horrible,” sobbed Jane.

“Why are they horrible?” A turmoil of feelings swept through Helen. Despite not wanting to see her child in such a distressed state, she was relieved that Jane was now clearly showing she wanted to be with her mother. The relief was short lived.

“They want to kill Maggie,” squealed Jane.

“Of course they don’t want to kill Maggie.”

“They do! They do!”

Helen, carried Jane back towards the classroom. As she approached the door, she could hear crying, screaming and a heavy thumping sound. Her mind raced, ‘what was happening in there?’.

Barging through the doorway, Helen was greeted with the scene of children standing on desks and the school mistress huddled in a corner, beating the ground with a long board ruler. In front of the school mistress sat Maggie. She seemed completely at home, totally unfazed by the noise that surrounded her. Her little cheeks looked fit to burst as she crammed in yet more food from an open lunch box on the floor.

“See, Mummy, see,  Miss is trying to kill her.”

“How did she get here,” wailed Helen, bending down to gently pick up Maggie Mouse.

“I brought her in my bag,” snivelled Jane.

The tears that fell from Helen’s eyes as she travelled home were of laughter. She carefully held the small box on her knee. Maggie replete with sandwich and cake slept blissfully unaware of the chaos she had caused.

© Lindsey Chapman - 

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