Sunday nights. That dead dread, sore in her tummy. Always. Every Sunday. Tugging her downwards, steady and slow.
A slight small girl, tangled thin brown hair, Emily walked sloth like round her house. Looking for school things. Steps dragging, she dug out shoes from under dirty clothes at the back of her cupboard, put them under her suitcase. Scuffed and torn, they needed some care. Didnít matter, nobody would see they werenít polished.
She didnít want to go to sleep. Sleep meant waking up. And school. She didnít want dinner either, she felt sick. Felt like she had swallowed fear. There it was, alive and real, playing a dark game in the pit of her stomach. Usually, she would ignore it, be strong like Mum said. Play pretend. Yet, Sunday night, the dread would become so big. It would take over the whole evening. She couldnít think of anything else.
A few tears struggled to the surface. Emily quickly brushed them away. Why did she have to go? She hated this school. Hated those girls. Hated that big dormitory. It wasnít fair.
ďEmily, have you got your laundry bag?Ē Her Mum called out. Emily didnít respond. She always felt a bit bad when she was horrible to Mum. She shouldnít be. She knew Mom didnít really mean to do this to her, but she was so angry at it all and it made her become beastly and unreasonable.
ďDonít worry, love. I have it here. Clean and fresh.Ē Mum would almost never get angry back when Emily was horrible. Kind of wished she would. Why didnít she? When someone is horrible to you, you should be horrible back? Often, she could hear Mum and Dad discussing things in the next room, talking about her, even though the door was closed, and she would get really really angry.
Sometimes all this would make her so angry, she wouldnít talk to them. It was easy. She could just feed the angry monster in her tummy. Think really hard about how horrible they were and then she would become so angry she didnít need to talk to anyone at all. She could ignore the kids at school, ignore the teachers, ignore everyone.
It even made the fear monster go quiet. If she was really angry, then that fear in her tummy, she didnít care about that.
ďEmily darling, you have to go to bed now. Itís an early morning tomorrow,Ē her Mum came into the room carrying the last of her things to pack. Emily looked at her Mum, looked at the pile of things. That feeling of dread so big in her tummy. It was hard not to cry.
Mum sat on the edge of her bed, tucked the covers round her. Emily avoided eye contact. She knew it was hurtful, but still did it. Mum looked tired. Emily could see she was trying very hard to smile. She held up Emilyís old pink panther attempting to be cheerful, ďlook who has come to wish you goodnight? He has come to say Goodnight mademoiselle Emily!Ē She used a funny French accent. The accent made Emily angry, she wasnít a baby any more. Mum used to do that when she was super little. Stupid kid games really.
They would laugh and laugh together. They would pretend that they were in Paris. Pink panther was a French detective. She hadnít felt so heavy full of anger back then. It was all before she had to leave for this horrible school, and everything changed at home.
Mum leant over, kissed her head. ďI am packing Pink Panther. Donít listen to those other kids. Itís gonna get better, I promise. I love you, ok? Be strong. Sleep tight.Ē
The light went out and Emily watched Pink Panther lie crocked on her suitcase in a dim glow from the passage. A strange expression on his face. Was Mum always strong? Sometimes she would look like she wanted to cry or something but she would smile for Emily. Be strong, thatís what she always said. Be strong. Easy for her. Probably she didnít have an anger monster. And grown ups donít get scared much, do they?
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