She came to my room, opened the door without looking at me, mumbled something and then closed it again. I looked up from my computer and watched her walk back out of the unit through the glass in my door.
The day had come. Boom. Just like that. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and told myself that it will be OK.
She came back into the unit, opened my door, and just looked at me. She just stood there looking at me. Imagine …like a child who wants to tell their mum something but can’t find the words. I looked back at her. Neither of us spoke. We were so close but suddenly…. words were gone. She closed the door again and walked out of the unit.
I felt my lip go. Like I am now. But …no…that not what she wants. I thought back to the first time I saw her. In a tiny room, hood over her head, knees to her chin, curled up on a chair. Her first words were not kind or friendly to me. I can still see her sitting there…angry…not trusting people. That’s seems like a lifetime ago.
She is back, and she has brought others. They bust into my room like nothing happened. Like she and I had just not locked eyes a few minutes ago unable to speak. She has brought them because its safer. Safer to have people to distract us both from what’s happening.
“What’s up my G” she says. Big smile on her face. I never thought I would ever see her like this. A normal teenage girl…happy…smiling…joking with her friends. Memories flash through my mind of the things I have seen her do. The stories I have heard. The things we’ve discussed. And here she is …just…being normal.
As the last one enters my room I strain to see if there is another coming. But no…there is no one behind them
“Don’t sweat it…. he’s gonna come” she says. I almost jump. Her words strike me like a hot iron. We have never discussed it…she and I …but she knows there is another …another who I have shared tears with. I look at her and nod.
They start joking and chatting about this being the end. That its time to go. I tune out. I have to. Then I hear her…..say the words…
“Init miss that’s what I said…that I wold never make it here”
She wants me to answer but I can’t for a moment. I feel the tears in my eyes too hard. So, I pretend to look in my draw and just quietly say “yer…you said that”. She stops bouncing around and says, “You forgot didn’t you…our first conversation”. I look up and she looks hurt. I know why. Because we have waited a long time for this day…based on our first ever real conversation. And she thinks that I don’t remember it.
She looks hurt…. lost…like the past 3 years have not been real.
I reach into my bag and pass her a package. Our eyes do not break contact. She is searching my face to see if I remember what we promised each other that day. She kisses her teeth and almost snatches the parcel out of my hand. Inside is a card and a book. She looks at me…. a flicker of hope…
“Read the card” I say. “Read it out loud” her friend says…she opens it and scans the first line. She looks at me…and smiles. Like a scene from a film…. I prove to her that I never forgot. That first conversation is written in a card to her…and she smiles. She goes to read it out loud when the door opens…
Its him. He came to say goodbye. I want to jump up and hug him. But no…not yet. He has one last battle…they both do…and I need them strong for this.
He looks at me. He will never find the words and he does not need to. Instead…he walks past them all and comes and stands next to me. That’s all. Nothing more. But I know what he means. I look up at him from my chair. He is so grown up. He looks down and smiles gently.
I look round the room. Everyone in here has a different meaning to me. We have all been through some deep stuff together and now they are here …before the final fight. I need to say something. No one is speaking and its silent.
“I’m proud of you all” I say. “All of you should not be here today. But you are. And that makes me proud”. They all start talking about how I meet them…funny stories and such.
Of course, he stays silent. As always. Then suddenly he says loudly “Bet your glad it’s over miss” they all stop talking. Looking from me to him…. waiting for the answer. “Why would you think that” I reply. “Because you have nearly lost your job over me before, like…defending me and that…. you must be glad it’s over”.
I have to literally swallow a gulp away the Sadness that has suddenly engulfed me.
“No. Never. I would do it all again” I say gently.
“Even for me miss” one of the others says. “Of course,” I say.
Then its time for the last battle. I go to walk them to it, but they go off on their own. Fine.
They don’t know how this end, but I do. I sit and wait. I feel…a bit strange is the word. Because the next time I see them…in about the hour……is the last time they will be “Mine”. When they walk out the gate it will be then end of this part of our journey.
Its time for my year 11s to leave.
The rest of the school line the playground. The year 11s have no idea. They are in the final exam with no idea what is waiting for them. A guard of honour from the whole school if you don’t mind.
I am at the end of this line with others. We will be the last people they see before they leave. People have balloons and whistles and banners. We wait for ages all chatting and laughing. Suddenly people start shouting…” They are coming”. It’s a long walk and the anticipation is killing me. We can hear the whole school shouting and screaming…and then boom…its real.
As the group turn the last corner where we are standing who should be leading it…of course she is. Big smile. Hands in the air. Loving life. I see her and I want to cry….my brave girl…strong…. she made it. The gang girl that said she had no future. She sees me and walks past. I just nod. Maybe that the best way to end it.
Then I see him. My solider boy. This must be killing his anxiety I think …and then…. that’s not for me to worry about anymore. He looks at me and smiles. He is OK. He is going to be Ok.
I watch the year 11 pass and it’s a proud moment.
Suddenly I feel a bear hug around my neck. I hate being touched…. the kids know that …But I know that I need this…. or does she. We hug. And she says, “You’re like a second mum, my school mum, thank you”. I say nothing for a moment. I can’t. because like a second mum I want to scream “No, you can’t leave school. It’s not safe, you’re not big enough. Stay here with us”, But I can’t. Because she is ready. So, I say, “It’s time for you to leave” She says “Miss…I don’t want to”. We look at each other…mid hug. And I realise that I need to be strong for her one last time. “Right…lets end this journey like we started it”. She smiles. She knows what I mean.
So, we walk out the school gates. Hugging and shouting at each other at the tops of our voices “But I aint gonna take my GCSE’s miss” …” Oh yes you are…and I will be there” …” But what If I die miss” …” You aint gonna die…not on my watch.
And people just leave us alone. Let us do what we do. Me and her. As we get to the last bit…. the main gate…she pulls me closer…puts her hand in the hair and screams “I made it…God almighty I made it to the end of school…. I took my GCSE’s and I am gonna be someone” She turns to me and says “Looks like we made it”
And I walk away to say good buy to others. Because that’s too much for me.
Everyone messes about before they leave. There is a water fight….and a crumpet or two gets thrown around (Private joke). But then it is time for the end.
I suddenly realise that I didn’t get to say good buy to him. I look round like a mum who has lost sight of a small child for a moment. I run up to the end of the road but can’t see him. As I walk back…he is there…sitting on his bike. I walk over and hug him. “I’m proud of you”. “Thank you miss” He goes to say something…but doesn’t. He struggles with his words like that. “Well see you around” I saw jokingly. I go to walk, and he grabs my arm He looks at me then down at the bike helmet in his hand “Thanks miss. I will come back and see you…. thanks for being there”.
I nod. That’s all. I can’t give no more right now.
And then we watched them all walk away. Off to celebrate the end of school. Look out for the blog on results day because that’s gonna be a killer.
But for now, I just watched them walk and ride away. A group of children who made it. And in the midst of it …a little girl and boy who never should have.
Man….im gonna miss them.