In a box in the loft 400 girls in a tight scroll, yellowed and thumbed at the corners.
Open it up and it whips back shut. Snaps at your fingers like a nasty little dog.
Your little furrowed brow in a face-full of spectacles on the end of the second row.
That one there, she spat on my specs on the way to the festival hall and Phyliss Sellick came out in blue crépe de chine and played Schuman’s piano concerto and I cried.
I was nearly sick on the coach on the way back, I didn’t want to go back and she sat on my hat and pretended to wipe her arse with it. She’s there on the front row. I threw her over my shoulder in judo in lower 5a but I couldn’t get Sarah down, she was too tall. She had dental braces and bits of white got stuck in the bands.
I could wipe them all out. Blot them out. Paint over their faces. Screw up my face tight so I can’t see them.
But they wont go. Eyes noses mouths pushing up through the paint. We’re suffocating too. Look at me look at me. Hair torn out, nails chewed, anorexic. Look. Don’t leave us here. Please don’t leave us here.
All those little girls growing good and bad and shredded and obscenely successful and hidden behind doors. Rolled up in their lofts and out of sight out of mind. Out of our minds.
But open the roll and we’ll snap shut snap at you or tear at your heart or abandon you and you’ll never know why. Or we will stand on a podium and tell you what’s good for you and that education is a privilege and it never did us any harm oh no.
Do you remember Flo? She went out of her mind and the teacher said she’d never make anything of herself. She had PTSD for 3 years after she left. And Ginny-cardboard-tights is still in a mental home.