Lucy literally ran all of the way to the school office, so great was her fear of the lunch bell sounding whilst she was still in the corridor, so exposed and open to further humiliation. Arriving at the office, she hesitated for a moment. What did she do now? Was Mrs Johnson, the secretary, really used to year 6 girls bursting in dripping with their own wee? She very much doubted that! But if she stayed where she was stood, more than a hundred other children would be coming past very shortly, and they’d all see her shame. That steeled her resolve, she grabbed the office door handle and let herself in, meekly announcing her arrival to the kind, older lady who was sat trying to make some sense of a small mountain of paperwork.
“Erm, excuse me, Mrs Johnson.”
“Ah, hello Lucy. What are you doing down here during class time, shouldn’t you be in a lesson?” the lady responded, a little distractedly, and without taking her eyes off the ledger she was working on.
Lucy tried to answer with some composure “Mrs Jenkins s-s-sent me Miss. I’ve hadda aaaa” but the rest was lost in a further barrage of sobs as Lucy once again broke down, unable to speak.
This most unexpected reaction to her question jolted the secretary from her work, causing her to spring to her feet and rush over to Lucy, dropping down so they were on a level, and putting her arms around her in a comforting embrace. It wasn’t unknown for one of the younger, infant children to burst in unexpectedly and break into tears, but very rarely did she see something like this from one of the oldest class, so she knew that something must be very wrong indeed.
“There there, Lucy, whatever’s happened? Calm yourself down and tell me all about it, so that I can see what I can do to help.” As she said this, she took a half step back from the young girl and regarded her, noticing at once the wet stains on her grey skirt and even the smears on her legs and white sock.
“Oh my darling, have you had an accident? Don’t cry, I’m sure we can sort it. Shh, dry those tears and let’s have a chat and see what we can do.” Even to an outsider, it would have been clear that Dorothy was herself a Mum and a Nanna, and she was very much used to calming down distressed children. She just had a way.
Lucy snuffled and snorted, most undignified, but dignity didn’t really seem to matter right at that moment, she’d already lost all of that. Ok, so the hug from Mrs Johnson really had helped a bit, it’s amazing just how good a hug feels when you’re feeling so upset and at your very lowest ebb, but that wasn’t going to solve her immediate predicament – she was still standing there, at 11 years old, wearing a soaked school uniform and dripping all over the floor, having wet herself spectacularly in front of all of her class. She felt like her world was ending.
“Can I just call my Mum to come and pick me up please, miss” she sniffled, “I just want to go home.”
Unfortunately the secretary knew the rules normally meant that unless there was a real medical emergency, no pupils were allowed to leave early and they must all remain in school until 3pm – this had been set down by the head and deputy after they’d been given a grilling by the LEA over their attendance performance, and it wasn’t in her power to bend the rules, sorry though she did feel for Lucy. She didn’t want to deflate the young girl any further though, so did her best to cushion this news as she delivered it.
“It’s not up to me I’m afraid sweetie, I can help you get sorted out and make a call to your Mum for you, but either Mr Davies or Mrs Moss will have to authorise you leaving early, if that’s what they think is best. Tell you what, why don’t you pop into my bathroom at the back of the office here and freshen yourself up a bit whilst I have a chat with them. I’ll see if I can’t find you some clean, dry clothes to put on too. How does that sound?”
Lucy’s heart sank once more, what did Mrs Johnson mean, that after all this she still may not be able to go home? She didn’t know how to respond that, instead standing fixed in stunned silence. She couldn’t have put herself through all of this shame and embarrassment for nothing, could she?
Realising that there was little she could do right now, and definitely wanting to get these cold, wet clothes off, she nodded slowly and made her way to the toilet door at the back of the office, closing it softly behind her before falling to her knees as silent sobs racked through her.
Dorothy realised she probably needed a bit of space, so picked up the phone on her desk and dialled the extension for the head, Mr Davies, intending to plead Lucy’s case as well as she possibly could.4
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