Lucy sheepishly made her way back out into the office, feeling more self conscious than she ever had in her life, and hoping that nobody was around to see her. Hearing the bathroom door open, Mrs Johnson looked up and gave the girl a reassuring smile, noticing as she did just how short the summer dress was on her.
“Miss, what should I do with my…I mean, where shall I put my…” She spluttered, all flustered again, not quite finding it within herself to ask the older lady how to deal with her wet clothes.
Fortunately Dorothy realised what she meant, and jumped up to sort out the mess. She grabbed a yellow plastic bag from the medical supplies area in the bathroom entrance, the type marked up for ‘bodily fluids’ and handed it to Lucy, who flushed furiously.
“Here love, pop your things in this. Don’t worry, we’ll put it inside a normal carrier bag so nobody will know what it is.”
Lucy, however, wasn’t reassured. She’d seen lots of the infants leaving clutching such carrier bags, with the bright yellow wrapping showing clearly through them, and as this usually coincided with them leaving school at home time wearing their PE kit or ill-fitting spare clothes, it was always obvious what had happened. She even vaguely remembered her little brother having such a mishap, although he was in probably year one at the time, so it was understandable. This time it would be her clutching the bag of wee soaked clothes, whilst wearing a dress that nobody could ever mistake for hers, and she was in year 6! Oh the shame.
Bundling her wet skirt and pants together, she hurriedly shoved them into the bag and then held it, arms outstretched, to Dorothy as if it was infectious, whilst asking “Did you speak to Mr Davies, Miss? Is my Mum coming to get me?”
“Mr Davies is out for the afternoon I’m afraid sweetheart” Dorothy responded, in a soothing voice, dreading breaking the news and half expecting Lucy to break down again when she did. “I’m spoken to Mrs Moss though, and also to your Mum. They both think it’s best that you stay in school for the rest of the afternoon, although your Mum is going to come and collect both you and Jack at the end of the day.”
This hammer blow hit Lucy hard, and she immediately felt sick. Upon hearing these words she cried out “Nooooo” as the tears began splashing down her face once more. This really, really couldn’t be happening, she thought. All of this humiliation and shame, for nothing. She’d still have to go to her lesson, she’d still get into trouble for not doing her homework, she’d still miss the sleepover (although whether she was still invited she had no idea) and she’d wet herself in front of her entire class for no reason whatsoever. Right at that very moment, she just wanted it all to end. “It’s just not fair”.
The secretary put her arms around Lucy once more, drawing her into a warm embrace and soothing her sobs. She felt the devastation, it was almost palpable, and she was sure that in the same shoes she’d just want to be as far away from school and anybody who’d seen her embarrass herself as she could be. It did all seemed so unfair, she agreed.
“I know you’re upset sweetie, try not to cry. The afternoon will soon be over and you’ll be able to go home and put all of this behind you.”
Lucy just shrugged, the sobs had subsided again but she was far from feeling positive about anything and much as she appreciated Mrs Johnson helping her, she felt betrayed that she was making her stay in school. Making her go back to her lessons after everything that had happened, and dressed like a baby. As if she wasn’t humiliated enough.
“Why don’t you go and get some lunch, love. You’ll be hungry by the end of the day if you don’t eat anything. And I’m sure your friends will want to see you to make sure that you’re alright.”
Lucy again shrugged dismissively, food was the last thing on her mind! And she really didn’t want to see anybody right now, they’d only laugh at her. Just as she was resigning herself to the fact that Miss Johnson probably wanted her own lunch, and that she’d have to leave and find somewhere to hide, there was a knock on the office door.
Pushing the yellow waste bag out of view under her desk in order to spare Lucy’s blushes, and handing her a tissue so that she could dry her eyes, Dorothy called “Come in.”4
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