Back in the classroom, Lucy’s classmates were in shock. None of them could quite believe what they’d just witnessed, and they were all quite glad that they had their lunch break next to talk about it. Not maliciously of course, well apart from a couple who were known to be bullies, but because it was just so unusual, so out of character. Her closest friends were worried, something must be really wrong for that to have happened, but they didn’t know what. Becky was beside herself, upset that she’d not been able to do anything to help her friend when she needed her the most. Even Miss Jenkins was left feeling rather out of sorts, she’d never known anything quite like that to happen in all of her years of teaching. Ok, so Lucy had asked to be excused, but only the once and only a couple of minutes before having her accident. The rules were the rules, but it didn’t stop her feeling guilty that she’d been the one to say no, and she was sure Lucy would blame her for her humiliation. What a horrible mess it all was.
As Lucy forlornly made her way to the bathroom, head bowed and more tears now silently pouring down her cheeks, Dorothy listened to the constant ringing on the other end of the phone, with nobody picking up. Eventually the call diverted, and her heart sank – she may have had a distant chance of convincing the head to let Lucy go home for the afternoon, but she knew Mrs Moss as well as the children did, and there was absolutely no way she would authorise this!
The phone was answered with a curt “Yes, Dorothy, what can I do for you?” leaving no doubt that she was busy and did not appreciate being disturbed. She was annoyed that the head had disappeared off to some LEA meeting, leaving her picking up all of his calls as well as her own.
“Afternoon Hilary, I’ve got one of the Year 6 girls here in the office with me, she’s had a bit of an accident and has asked about being allowed to go home. I have explained the usual process to her, but she’s really quite upset so I thought I’d run it by you.”
“Is she badly injured? Does she need to be seen by a doctor?” the deputy snapped back, dreading the paperwork that would no doubt be left for her to deal with if this was the case.
“Erm, no, actually she didn’t make it to the toilet in time, that’s all. She’s just cleaning herself up now.”
“In Year 6, really! Oh, in that case there’s no reason at all she can’t go back to her lessons once she’s changed, is there?” There was that condescending tone again, Dorothy thought, as she heard the phone click on the other end of the line, and she worried how Lucy was going to take this news.
Standing from her desk and making her way to the store cupboard in the far corner of the office, Dorothy began searching for some clothes that would fit Lucy. They were well prepared for toilet accidents and messy play in the infants, and even had a stock of spares for the younger junior pupils which was called upon every few weeks, but accidents in the oldest class were so rare that, thinking hard, she honestly couldn’t remember the last time a change of clothes had been needed. Hilary had been quite clear though, going home wasn’t an option, so a change of clothes would have to be found.
Having emptied out the spares box to no avail, finding they did at least have some underwear that would do (what Lucy would make of the rather juvenile style she didn’t like to think!) but nothing to cover her modesty, her next port of call was the lost property drawer. Hopefully there would be something in there that would do, anything really. After rummaging through the various discarded hats, gloves, odd shoes (??) and bits of PE kit, her hands fell on a piece of red gingham cloth, a school summer dress. Pulling it out from amongst the detritus, she quickly shook it and looked carefully at the size. Lucy was only a slight girl, although quite tall for her age, the dress should fit although it may be a bit shorter than the school usually encouraged. Ah well, beggars can’t be choosers she thought, and she was certain Lucy would prefer that to her wet skirt.
After hurriedly stuffing the remaining lost items back into their filling cabinet home, Dorothy took the dress and underpants over to the bathroom, opening the first door which led to a sort of ante-space containing a sink and some medical supplies, and popping them down onto a chair in there. Knocking softly on the door to the toilet area beyond, she called out “Lucy, I’ve managed to find you a change of clean, dry clothes to pop on, I’ll leave them here on the chair for you. Don’t worry, the undies are brand new!” She added this last comment, thinking that nobody would want to put on somebody else’s old pants, and hoping it may help to reassure the poor girl.
Lucy managed a sniffled “Thank You” through the door, and then waited a few moments to be sure the secretary had left before retrieving the clothes that had been left for her.
As she opened the door, her eyes fell on the bundle of clothes. What. Was. That?? Her head spun again, and her stomach lurched and churned. The school officially has a separate winter and summer uniform, but after the end of Year 2 when the children moved up to the juniors this was basically forgotten about, with all of the girls wearing the winter uniform, consisting of a grey skirt and white shirt, exclusively. Similarly the boys cast aside their grey school shorts at this point, opting instead for long trousers all year round.
As a consequence of this, nobody Lucy’s age EVER wore a summer dress to school, they all considered them to be babyish and something only the little kids would wear. Heck it was bad enough having to wear a skirt to school, but a summer dress. No, no, no. Could her day get any worse than this? She was already going to be a laughing stock, this wearing this would cost her any remaining crumbs of her reputation and she knew it. She started welling up again, and all she could think was that she hoped nobody saw what she was wearing before her Mum got there to pick her up and take her home.5
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