' Tis The Start Of A New Dawn
When The Cuckoo's Cry
The first autumn leaves floated down and rested gently on the
dew-covered grass. It was my first day at my new school and my knees
were quivering, my hands were shaking, and my stomach felt as light as
air. I pushed my long blonde hair out of my eyes, and looked at my
He stood tall and proud, his brown hair cut stylishly short and his
glasses were small, round and black, giving off a 'cool' image. I
gripped his hand and he gave me a warm smile, which reassured me if
only for a second or two.
It was early September, and the fresh breeze swirled around us, making
me stamp my foot on the cold road and my dad chuckle. On the other side
of my dad stood my brother, Ben. One year younger than me, he was
always a bit of a troublemaker and a class clown, even if his jokes and
gags were immature. We looked very similar, with our blonde hair, blue
eyes and pale complexion. He peered around the back of my dad to stick
his tongue out at me, scrunching his nose up and creasing his eyes so
they were slits in his round face.
The sky was a clear blue, and the sounds of the birds calmed me. We
lived in an undersized village called Penselwood, just outside the town
of Wincanton in Somerset. It was right in the heart of the countryside,
and the wait for the school bus was quite long. My elder
Sister, Kim, had already caught her bus, as she was five years older
than me and was just starting secondary school.
I was just examining the size of my feet compared to my dads which
amazed me even though he was an adult and I was a mere seven year old,
when his hand jerked and I looked up to see the white minibus pull up
in front. He opened the door and buckled us in, making sure we had our
bags and that we were all right.
Just as he was closing the door, he leant in to me and said,
"Take care of your brother for me, okay?" and he smiled his smile
before closing the door.
I sat there, my feet hanging off the seat but not quite touching the
floor, my head swarming with ideas and doubts, my palms starting to get
clammy. My brother hummed to himself, but I just gazed out of the
window, watching the bus gather speed, taking me closer and closer to
the thing I dread.
As we got closer to the school, stopping every now and again to pick
up other students, all of who gave us strange looks, my heart beat a
little faster, and faster as I saw the imposing building at the end of
It's vast red brickwork, staring down upon the teacher's cars like
small ants gripped with fear at being faced with a human being. Mothers
and fathers walked their children to school, and they ran laughing in
through the gates. My eyes began to water but I breathed and tried to
relax my racing heart. I watched the groups of boys and girls older
than me enter the school building via a side entrance, but the minibus
driver led us through into a foyer, advising us to sit down on the
small settee that was positioned by the window. The smell of new
construction filled my nostrils, and the polyester couch itched my bare
legs, making me sit on the edge.
My brother sneaked a quick look at the paintings on the wall,
illustrated by younger children from the local nursery. His face drawn
in a pout as he tried to work out what the blot of red and yellow
seemed to represent, but after much deliberation he sat back defeated,
the picture remaining anonymous and explicit.
I was just wondering what was going on when the white door in front of
us opened up and appeared the smiling face of a middle-aged man, his
brown-grey hair brushed backwards and his tie parallel with the sides
of his navy jacket.
He ushered us in and motioned for us to sit down; the blue chairs
seeming like stepladders for that was the height of them. He slid into
a black leather office chair behind his desk, on which there was a sign
reading 'Mr Blake' in bold metal letters. He flicked his glasses on,
which hung suspended from a thin cotton string around his neck, and
read our last reports from our school in Babbacombe, Torquay. I
"Mm, I see." He murmured, letting the words escape slowly from his
mouth. He folded up the papers and stood up, smoothing the creases out
of his suit. He cleared his throat then gave me a warm smile.
"Seeing as this is your first day at this school we will let you go
into your classes now, and I will see you later on in the day."
We stood up and were gently pushed out of the office. My emotions were
going up and down like a yo-yo; the butterflies fluttered in my stomach
and the rhinos pounded on my bladder, making me squeeze my legs
I followed Mr Blake out of the foyer and into the tarmac coated
playground, lifeless and empty. I looked around and saw that just
beyond a few trees stood several large mobile classrooms, wondering if
I was destined for one.
I was told to wait on the path, but the voice seemed distant and not
real, for I was imagining horrific circumstances for when I entered my
classroom. I devised scenes, in which I would stand up for myself, but
they were only discarded and replaced with upsetting illustrations of
me being beaten up and bullied.
I was thinking about turning around, running back and hiding out in
the woods, when I felt something press down on my shoulder. I looked up
and saw a face of a woman, her warm brown eyes crinkled as she smiled.
She nodded to Mr Blake and he led Ben away, my brother turning around
to catch one last glimpse of me before we were split up. The feeling I
had when he was walking away was that of a concentration camp. It was
Nazi Germany happening all over again, except this time sixty years
later and in a little girls mind. We were two Jews, separated and never
to see one another again. Tears welled up inside of me but I was
determined to stay strong, and nor cry on my first day.
My heartbeat became faster as I ambled, half stumbled up the steps
into an individual mobile classroom, the humid air pushing against past
my face and out into the cold air. I stepped into the light and I was
aware of millions of eyes on me (though there was little more than
twenty-five children in the room). My heart thumped harder.
* * *
The teacher stood by me, rested her arm around my shoulder and cleared
"Now folks," she said, with a very precise English accent. "We have a
newcomer among our ranks, so I expect all of you to do your best at
being nice and to show her around. This is Lauren Hutchinson, and she
has just moved here from Torquay down in South Devon."
I looked around and there was utter silence. I made eye contact with a
girl at the back of the class, who smiled but immediately stopped when
her friend jabbed her with a sharp pencil. I gulped guiltily as though
it were my fault, and looked at my school shoes, the bright electric
lights reflected upon the shiny black material.
"Lauren," the teacher said, "You can sit with Daniel for the mean
while because there are no other spare seats. Don't worry," she added,
"He's a nice boy." I smiled a shy smile, and dragged by book bag over
to my appointed place, next to a boy with thick brown hair and train
"Hi," he whispered, and moved up so that I could sit down. I smiled at
him, perhaps a little too eager, but he didn't notice and instead
looked away from me in the direction of the teacher.
"Just so that Lauren knows, we have been reading James In The Giant
Peach by Road Dahl in our English sessions. Have you read it before?"
she asked me. I nodded. I was familiar with the works of Road Dahl and
I admired his work greatly. She beamed as if nothing could have made
her happier. "Well, we have just over one hour before we go to lunch,
so I'd like you all to come and sit on the carpet and we will read from
where we left off."
I followed Daniel, and the class sat down on the small square piece of
carpet fitted in the corner by the fire exit. Just to the left stood a
small bookcase, packed with books ranging from 'Biff and Kip' to 'The
Snowman' and other such classic storybooks.
The teacher (who I soon found out was called Mrs Leman) sat in a
squashy red chair at the front. She crossed her legs, straightened her
skirt and waited for us to settle down.
As I sat down, my eye caught that of the girl who had smiled. She
looked to see if her friend was watching her, and when she found she
was alone, she grinned back.
That hour was rather enjoyable for that of my first day at this new
school. We sat there, our bottoms going numb, but we did not care as we
were swept through the world of James's life, and his adventures with
the ladybird, centipede and grasshopper.
When the bell rang, we stood up, stretched our arms and legs, and made
our way out into the playground, the smells of the school dinners
floating into our noses.
I looked around and noticed most of the kids were heading down to the
bottom of the playground. There, at the end of the playing area, were a
pair of metal double doors which were swinging open and closed as more
and more students pushed through. I stood there, alone, wondering what
to do as I noticed that the few who didn't go into the lunch hall were
about the age of five years or more. I panicked and my hands became
moist. Was it not cool to have a packed lunch? Was I the only one who
had one? Am I destined to be un-cool and unpopular forever?
"Do you have a packed lunch?" came a rasping voice from behind me. I
twirled around and there was Daniel, holding a white plastic box under
his arm. I nodded and he sighed with relief with quickly turned into a
fit of coughing. He bent over, grasping at his sides.
"What's matter?" I asked, when he had surfaced, his face glowing
"Have a cough." Was all he said. I didn't know what to say so I took
to examining my shoes once again.
"Do you have anyone to sit with at lunch time?" he questioned.
"No. Do you?"
"Nah. They all goes into the hall at lunch and 'cause me mum don't
like the food here, she makes me eat this."
His voice was strange to me, and his words were mixed up. His grammar
was different and I stopped myself from correcting him. He opened up a
sandwich, which he held in his hand. Inside, smothered generously on
the soft white bread, was a brown, thick, sticky paste. I screwed my
nose up at it. It smelt of raw fish and scrambled eggs.
"What's in it?" I asked, peering at the sheer strangeness of the
unknown source of food.
"Dunno. Want some?"
I shook my head and we sat down on a brick wall next to the first
mobile classroom. Inside my plain blue lunch box sat two neatly wrapped
cheese sandwiches, a round shiny apple, a strawberry yoghurt and a
chocolate biscuit. Daniel examined my meal enviously, and then took a
deep breath before sinking his teeth into the foul smelling
We sat for a while; the only sounds heard were the birds singing, the
hustle and bustle of the school lunch hall, and the food chomping in
our mouths. It was fun to sit here with a boy, a boy who hadn't yet
pulled my hair, or stole my sandwiches or teased me about my freckles.
It was a pleasant lunch, and I actually looked forward to having lunch
again tomorrow. After a short time, the bell rang and Daniel and I made
our way to the classroom, accompanied by fellow classmates who ignored
us and simply pushed us out of the way. Well, at least I made a
* * *
A few weeks later, when the cold October winds had struck Somerset,
and the leaves had coated the roads with gold, red and brown, I arrived
at school normally. It was like any other day. The class were
registered normally and we finished the 'reading hour' as normal. Then
came lunch. My mum hadn't bought anything for mine and my brother's
lunches, so I gave the money to Mrs Leman, and waited anxiously until
the midday bell rang. It would be the first time I had ventured into
the lunch hall.
When I gave the money to Mrs Leman Daniel looked at me, his mouth
open. I sat back down next to him and leaned over to me.
"I thought you were pack lunch?" he said.
"Me mum didn't have any lunch stuff at home." Something across the
room caught my eye. I looked over into the corner, and there was the
girl who had smiled at me on the first day. And she was smiling now.
But what was weird was that her friend was smiling too. And so were the
others on the table. They all grinned and waved, and I wasn't sure if
they were being sarcastic or sincere.
Then I realised Daniel was still looking at me. "Sorry," I added. He
shrugged his shoulders and turned the other way, ignoring me
completely. I felt strange, as though I had betrayed friend. But it was
only one lunch.
Once the bell rang I walked slowly down the playground and was just
about to reach out and push the double door when I felt a tap on the
shoulder. I revolved around and saw a group of four girls standing
there. They smiled at me and one of them stepped forward. She had
stylishly short ginger hair, which curved around her square set
"Hi Lauren. I'm Joanna. We thought you might like some company when
your eating lunch."
"Hi." I didn't know what else to say. I looked at the other girls.
Joanna noticed me glancing at the others.
"This is Laura, Ellie and Sarah." Laura was the girl who had smiled at
me on my first day. She had shoulder length blonde hair and her school
jumper fitted snug around her stomach. Ellie was a short girl with
brown straight hair and her face resembled that of a mouse. Sarah was
by far the prettiest but also by far the shyest. She too had brown
hair, which hung in soft waves. Her black round glasses were fancy and
she smiled nervously. Joanna waved her hand in the air, as if to
dismiss the words she just said. She linked arms with me and led me
into the lunch hall.
The rest of the girls followed us and we stood in the queue. I gawked
at everyone eating their lunch. It seemed as though it were our own
world. People were calling across the room at other, kids were
squeezing around tables to eat with their friends, and hardly anyone
was alone. It seemed exactly what a lunch hall should be.
We had reached the 'hot table' as the sign read, which was laden down
with assorted hot foods. I watched what the other girls got, so as not
to make the wrong choice. Joanna, Ellie and Laura asked for macaroni
cheese whilst Sarah paid for a salad and a piece of fruit. I grabbed a
plate of macaroni cheese and hurried after them, dodging the dinner
ladies and young kids.
We sat down at a table right in the centre of the hall. Kids, older
and younger made room for us, and though I was curious about their
solicitude, I later realised that I was a part of the most popular
group of girls in the school.
For a while no one talked, but listened to the conversations around
us. I was just wondering if I was supposed to feel this awkward when
"Sarah, why do you always eat salads? You know you don't have to diet.
Your stick thin as it is."
Sarah shrugged and continued munching on her lettuce, Laura remained
oblivious to all others, even when Ellie poked her with her fork.
"You won't believe what I heard," gasped Ellie, as though she was
bursting to spread the news. Laura stirred, as if from a dreamless
sleep. We all looked at her, blank expressions on our faces. "Chloe
O'Neil's mum has signed her up for this kinda 'fat camp' next
Bursts of laughter exploded from the table, Joanna was clutching at
her sides, crying "Stop it, stop it, I've got stitches!"
We looked around the table at the Chloe. She was a short, obese girl
whose four chins wobbled continuously as she carried on eating the
double chocolate desert.
Joanna stood up, flattened her skirt and strutted over to her, whilst
Chloe looked up in horror.
"You all right, Chloe?" asked Joanna, a taunting tone in her
Chloe kept her head down and simply mumbled, "Yeah."
"I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you. What was that? Or is it just because
you've eaten your voice box as well?" Yet again there was laughter. The
dinner ladies stopped talking to see what was going on.
Offended, Chloe stood up from the next table and waddled out of the
hall amid gales of laughter, smans and cheers. The dinner ladies
yelled at everyone to shut up, and they carried on eating, occasionally
snorting into their meals as they re-enacted the scene in their
I didn't find it funny at all. I thought that Joanna seemed very cruel
but I didn't dare answer back to her or stop her, so I laughed with the
rest of them. It was clear who was the boss.
Once our plates had been cleared away, the four of us, our arms
linked, walked outside and sat down on the brick wall where I had
shared my first lunch with Daniel. I sat between Laura and Joanna,
listening to Ellie and Sarah perform scenes from the Walt Disney film
Pocahontas, singing the songs and yelling out the words. I personally
found myself quite skilled at knowing all the words, but that was until
I met Ellie. Not only had she memorized the words, song lyrics and
credits, but she also knew the way the characters stood in each scene,
the way the accents were spoken and she could imitate any one of the
This became our duty every lunchtime. We put on plays, usually
Pocahontas, and I was always either Pocahontas or her best friend. If I
didn't have a part in the play I would hum the music for that scene, or
sing the songs when the actors were elsewhere. We considered ourselves
so good, we believed we would be film stars. Indeed, this determination
must have secured our roles in the Christmas nativity, for when the
joyful season came, we were all issued with roles as angels or
I was so excited. This was the chance for me to shine, to please my
mum and dad, and to show the rest of the school that I was as good as
them. Unfortunately Joanna and the others didn't share my excitement.
Or possibly it was just Joanna.
It was a Friday and the end of school bell went. I was packing my
books into my bag when Joanna came over to me, closely followed by
Ellie, Laura, Sarah and a new member, Katie.
"Hi. I'd, I mean we, would like to talk to you about the Christmas
play. We don't think it's very fair that you should one of the main
roles. We're not being nasty, it's just seems that it should really be
me, 'cause I've been going to this school for ages. Do you
My heart stopped beating. I remembered the day I was told I was one of
the four angels. It was to be me, Ellie, Sarah and Katie. When Mrs
leman didn't read out Joanna's name, Joanna looked at me, malice and
envy flickering across her face.
"I said do you understand?"
"What do you want me to do? Tell Mrs Leman that I don't want to be an
angel?" My voice quivered. I so wanted to be one.
Joanna gave me an expression that said, 'Maybe'.
They all turned and walked away. I stood there; rooted to the spot and
only moved when I heard my minibus sound it's horn.
* * *
I lay awake that night, listening to the sound of my brother snoring
gently. The curtains were opened slightly in the middle, and the silky,
silvery moonlight splayed across my bed. I pulled my duvet up to my
chin and snuggled down in my bed, my heart beating rapidly as I tried
to devise a plan in which I could keep my part in the play but get
Joanna a part that was even better.
* * *
Monday morning was crisp, cool and sunny. I had created a proposal in
order for Joanna to feel that she was still in control, but also for me
to still have my part. I waited with Ben for the bus. My dad no longer
stayed until the bus came, he walked us there, then headed home again
so that he too could get to work.
I walked into the classroom, my heart thumping; my breath was in short
gasps. I sat down next to Laura, who gave me a small, hidden smile then
turned away to listen to Joanna. As soon as she saw me, Joanna's eyes
narrowed, and she sneered obnoxiously.
"Thought about the play yet, Lauren?" she asked. Her eyes burned into
mine, the coldness seeping through my veins and freezing my blood. I
swallowed and nodded.
"Well?" she asked, her impatience rising.
"I was thinking, if you want to be an angel, then you can have my
part, 'cause I don't mind watching, 'cause I get scared when I'm in
front of other people, but if you want a part then why don't you have
the best part instead of some background white thing." My trick had
done the work. I could see the cogs ticking in her head and she gave me
"What part do you think I should be, then?" she asked, her voice
considerably warmer, and as she did so, she moved around the table and
linked arms with me.
"I think you should be the narrator, 'cause you're really good at
reading things and it's like you're telling people what to do and what
should be happening, and it's like they are following your
Joanna looked at me. I could sense that she thought this was the
perfect idea. She believed that if she became narrator, then she would
be of importance. She would have power over other people and that
"Lauren, you're the best." We giggled and I could relax again. Laura
gave me thumbs up, but Ellie simply looked away.
I thought things weren't going so well between Ellie and I, so I took
her to the side, away from the others and asked her a question.
"Ellie, do you like me?" I said, and it was obvious what the answer
was going to be.
"It's just that when I told Joanna to be a narrator, I didn't think
that you liked the idea."
"Lauren, listen. Joanna and me have been friends ever since I can
remember. Then Laura came. I was pushed aside, and it's happened every
time someone new has joined the group. It's not 'cause I don't like
you, it's just I get upset every time Joanna ignores me. You
"Yeah." Was all I said. Ellie had stumped me. I thought she was
basically not a people person, and didn't have true feelings. Ellie
walked away, and I followed her, though keeping a distance of at least
* * *
Winter sprung upon Somerset with its cold winds, white frost and clear
skies. The nativity was approaching faster, and last minute rehearsals
were necessary. I couldn't look at Ellie again in the same manner, so
instead I made final preparations with Laura. We were inseparable, and
Joanna became jealous.
I was in the toilets (doing my business as you do) when I heard the
door swing open and in walked Laura, closely followed by Joanna and
Ellie. I sat still, my heart pounding in my chest. Their voices were
barely more than whispers, but every word was heard.
"Why do you think she's like that? You know, always thinks she's
better than us." It was Joanna; her voice was full of false revelation,
and she tried to say it sincerely.
"I don't think she thinks she's better, but she does always try to be
nice and it is really annoying." This time it was Ellie who replied,
and I couldn't move for fear of them hearing me.
"She can't help it if that's the way she is." Laura remarked.
I have no idea how long I stayed there for, but it felt like forever.
Luckily it was nearing the end of the day, and when I went back to
class, my friends had fixed smiles on their faces. They seemed to be
straining to look as though they were cheerful and full of Christmas
spirit. That's when I changed my tactics.
* * *
On the evening of the nativity, the day before the end of term, I
paced around behind the curtain; my white angel's dress dragging on the
floor and my tinsel shed flakes of silver every now and again.
Joanna came up to me, wearing a very posh white blouse and a prim
black skirt. Her hair was pushed back in a pink Alice band, and she
tried to smile sweetly.
"You look really nice," I commented, trying to sound as though I
"Thanks, you look quite good as well." She turned to walk away, but
not before I heard her mutter, "Not as good as I would've been."
I was too nervous to take any notice of Joanna's spitefulness, so I
concentrated knowing my lines and remembering where to walk. Then I
heard clapping. The audience were applauding and we hadn't even begun!
This really took the toll, and I rushed to the girl's toilet, hoping I
was back in time for my act.
I reappeared moment later, took a cold drink of water (courtesy of Mrs
Collins, the caretaker) and stood behind the curtain, waiting for my
cue. Us angels stared with morbid fascination, as the line of waiting
seraphs grew shorter and shorter.
Before I knew it, I was walking, half stumbling out into the bright
lights, in front of an audience whom I had never seen and whom I never
wanted to see again. I stumbled as my foot got caught on one of the
light cables but quickly smiled an apologetic smile to Joanna who gave
me a look as though I had done something wrong.
The night went smoothly, and for the first time in a while, I felt
higher than Joanna. I felt as though I were better and it pleased me.
That was until the next day at school.
It was a crisp sunny day, the birds were tweeting and the cold winds
whipped out skirts. I stood talking to Katie, whom had been very polite
at noticing the apprehension between Joanna and I. I was about to
reply, when I noticed Joanna strutting over, so I quickly assured her
it was fine and that she was just nervous about her play (in which she
was performing for the town and had nothing to do with Joanna, me or
the school. Katie was quite an actress and had many lead roles).
Joanna swaggered towards us, the usual smirk upon her face.
"Hi," she spoke, looking at us. "What were you talking about?"
"We was talking about Katie's play. You know, the one she's doing for
She looked at me, her eyes questioning me. The last line confused her,
as she didn't know whether or not I was mocking her, making her seem
stupid. Finally she took her attention off me, and linked arms with us,
drawing us into the classroom and away from the cold outside.
The rest of the school day was pretty much the same as usual, unless
of course, you counted Joey Donovan in Yr 6 getting his ear pierced and
then being sent home, on account of which his mother cried, "But Joey's
a good boy," and wouldn't believe he would do such a thing.
As it was the end of term, and the Christmas holidays were springing
upon us, our lessons involved card making, games and various videos. We
chatted, laughed and giggled, as we got more and more excited.
When the bell rang, signalling the end of the day, we ran eagerly to
our buses. I hopped inside, buckled my belt and waited for Ben whilst
chitchatting away with Donna who was a Yr 5 and lived three miles east
As soon as my brother and I had been dropped off, we sprinted home as
fast as our little legs would carry us, dropping school bags and coats
on the kitchen floor for our mum to pick up. We fought over the remote
control, and finally, when I had retrieved it from the plant pot (where
Ben threw it when he couldn't win), we settled down and watched
cartoons, past the time Kim came home and on until we were called for
* * *
The holidays were a joyous occasion. We spent our free time making
decorations for the house, trying to wrap presents up (though
unsuccessfully as we preferred sticking the sellotape to each other's
faces then the gifts) and annoying our parents every time it got a day
closer to Christmas.
I woke up one morning to find the world outside was white, and the sky
was blue. Perfect, luscious snow blanketed the countryside and it was
so pure, I felt as though I had sinned when I took my first step into
the winter wonderland. I came from quite a deprived childhood. In the
beach resort of Torquay, there was rarely snow, but a lot of palm
trees. I considered myself to be so lucky, that I ran inside, waking
everyone up to share it with me.
My mum and sister, being boring and uninteresting as they are, refused
to get out of bed so early, so my brother, dad and me got wrapped up.
Before long we were cold and wet, gasping for breathe after having a
furious snowball fight.
When Christmas Eve came, there was a thin layer of snow and the
Christmas atmosphere was stifling. It couldn't have been more perfect.
I danced around the house excitedly; waiting for the time when my
mother told us it was time for bed. She always said, "The earlier you
go to bed, the quicker Christmas Day will come." And I believed it.
Personally, I have faith in the fact that if you go to bed later then
you will be more tired and therefore not be up so early in the
Unfortunately, the holidays came and went without a sound. They flew
past, and I was utterly mortified when I realised it was Sunday, and
that the next day was the first day back to school. It went too quick,
and I swore to myself that the teachers must've put it on fast-forward.
When the night came, and we were sent to bed, my heart sank as I
realised I hadn't seen Joanna for two weeks. Her whole perspective
might of changed, she might have gotten nicer or thought of even more
depressing phrases to say. My mind was frantic with worry, but I soon
fell asleep, restless in my bed.
* * *
Once we had gotten back to school, and the first week was over, I no
longer mourned the Christmas holidays, but found myself looking forward
to Valentines Day, and Easter. My birthday was drawing near, and I gave
everyone hints of what I would like. They would ask me, and I would
pretend that I didn't know, when secretly I was dying to tell them
exactly the present to buy and what it should be wrapped in.
I was energized when my mum asked me what kind of party I wanted that
I sat there, speechless, staring into oblivion. My mind had gone blank,
my throat had clogged up and my eyes raced back and forth in my sockets
continuously whilst my nostrils flared. I seemed like a rabid dog, and
to tell you the truth, it may have scared you, but my family were used
I decided to have a disco for my birthday, where only the select few
could come. I got ready a few hours before the arranged time, my little
black party dress reflecting the lights of the lounge. The scrubbed
wooden table in the kitchen stood groaning under plates and bowls of
varied cold savoury pieces, assorted crisps and dozens of sweets.
As soon as everybody arrived, and the music had been turned on, five
little girls could be seen dancing in the dark, fairy lights strung
around the room. It was exhilarating.
* * *
When spring changed to summer, the newly born lambs matured and
flowers bloomed everywhere, the school changed in a way also.
Physical Education now involved playing Rounders on the school's
sports field. I wasn't the best but I did have an advantage. I was best
friends with Joanna, and therefore I wasn't teased. No one laughed at
Joanna and he friends.
My weekends now involved going to the beach, and having slumber
parties. I no longer cared for the Christmas holidays were you played
snowball fights then returned home to a warm cosy fire before turning
into bed with a cup of hot milk.
I got out my swimsuit, dressed in shorts and skirts, and frequently
played cricket with my family in our garden. It was a blissful summer,
and I felt alive. The taunts I had received from Joanna didn't matter
anymore. I took them daily, just like the lunch food that smelled and
tasted of glue. Everything was going the right way for a change, and I
didn't want it to end. That was until the day my life swung from the
top to the bottom of the 'good' chain.
I woke up with a start when I heard a door slam and voices raised.
Without calling out, I knew it was my mum and dad having another one of
their fights. I sat up, not daring to breathe, eavesdropping on their
conversation (to put it bluntly).
"I'm sorry, but I can't just say no, this is my job!"
"But the kids are happy here! Why can't you stay here?"
"This is my job! How else can we pay for things? You know I don't want
to go but I have to."
I crept down my ladders and padded barefoot across the carpet, inching
the bedroom door open in order to hear the row clearly. The argument
continued until late into the night, and only stopped when I shuffled
around, in which a floorboard creak. My dad opened the door and took
one look at me before picking m e up in a hug. Tears silently slid down
my pale cheeks, and I sniffed.
"What were you shouting about?" I asked, forcing the wave of sniffles
back down into my throat.
"I've got to work somewhere else. Which means either we'll move or
My dad was an ambulance man, and he had worked various places, which
is the one reason we moved to Somerset.
I didn't know what to say. We had been here less than a year and
already I was moving. This wasn't fair.
"Your mum and I will talk about it some more and I'll see if I can
change it. If not, I don't know what's going to happen."
* * *
The next morning, my siblings and I were sat down to be told about
what was happening. Though I had a kind of rough guess, I didn't know
exactly what was going on.
We were informed that my dad was to be transferred to Totnes;
somewhere back in the southwest, and that it was up to us to decide
whether we would all move together, or see him every weekend. Meaning
he would live in Totnes, and we would stay here.
I told them very firmly that I didn't want to be split up from my dad,
but that I didn't want to start a new school again, so after much
deliberation and careful thought, my parents agreed to move.
It was a strange feeling. Even though I had been to different schools,
and lived in Newcastle, Torquay and now Somerset, I still was
The day came when I had to tell my friends. It was the beginning of
the week, and first thing in the morning, I strode up to them, crossed
my arms and waited for them to quieten.
"Hi," they chorused, smiling as they did, but their smiles faltered
when they saw the look on my face.
"What's wrong?" Laura asked.
I sat down, and took a deep breath before verbalizing.
"I've got to move away. Back down to the southwest 'cause me dad's got
a job down there."
They didn't say anything. They couldn't. Their eyes scanned me, and I
felt naked before them. Laura, whom I had like the most, gave me no
sympathy, or encouragement but just sat there, not sure of how to
"Aren't you gonna say somein'?"
"I dunno what to say," Joanna explained. It was about that time that I
thought I would break down and cry.
I lay my head down on my arms and sobbed silently.
The rest of the day was normal, but I hardly said a word or took any
notice of anything anyone said to me. Eventually, the word got around
that I was moving away. People who I had never spoken to before told me
how very sorry they were that I was leaving, and that I would be
missed. It was a pack of lies. Even my parents didn't miss me when I
was locked in a broom cupboard for five hours just because I
accidentally broke my brothers ray gun.
As it was the end of the school year, and all my class were moving
into year four, we had an afternoon one week in which we spent it with
our teacher to be, Ms Rossiter.
I sat with Ellie and Joanna, fiddling with my frayed jumper sleeve,
when I heard my name being spoken out loud. I looked up and noticed
that my current teacher, Mrs Leman, had entered the room and was asking
for quiet. She smiled at me, and continued.
"Now as you know, Lauren has been with this school for one year, and
unfortunately she is moving away. She will be sorely missed, and we
would like to give her this present as a token of our sadness. Take
care Lauren, and we will all miss you."
I stood up and everyone was clapping around me. My heart swelled, and
delight spread upon my face.
I smiled nervously at everyone, thanked Mrs Leman and Ms Rossiter as
they presented me with a large box of Roses chocolates, and was about
to go back to my seat when I saw Joanna.
A look of pure envy and abhorrence flickered across her face. At once
I knew that she wanted the attention, and she wanted the
But I didn't care. I was leaving her and her malicious taunts behind.
I was saying goodbye to a friend who never liked me, and I did not
concern myself with what she must be feeling. I was going somewhere
new, and I wouldn't let anyone walk over me or tease me like
It takes a lot to stand up to your enemies, but it takes a hell of a
lot more to stand up to your friends.