pulling on winter tights. uniform a little too large, room to grow.
bunsen burners and lab coats, and a smell of a substance I hadn't bothered to learn the name of. well-intentioned assemblies with meanings I was too bored to grasp. new stationary. the idea of choosing a 'cool' pencil case. trying not to be noticed. trying not to be embarrassing. friendships formed on silly jokes and an unspoken solidarity. sandwiches that would have been better chilled. sandwiches not eaten. a packet of crisps and a penguin. playing sports, unwillingly, out in the cold. the smell of the changing rooms. singing on coach trips. having so much to take in and it being completely normal, all we've ever known. teachers that felt unknowable - and not caring, and teachers that felt nearly knowable, and all kinds of wonderful. parents' evenings, presuming the worst.
gathered together to receive news of events we were too young to understand.
safety in stories, in english class, in putting your hand up because you knew or wanted to know, all about it. changing the ink cartridge in your fountain pen, and making a bit of a mess. the thrill of a vending machine. gel pens and tippex. "careers advice". group school photos, laughing on unstable structures, a sense of mischief. solo school photos, feeling awkward. getting in trouble for something that everyone thought was funny, and not minding. the nurse's room, a plaster put on. teachers that made jokes. friendships forgot. new friendships formed. the awkward inbetween. chunky clarkes shoes. pe kit inspections. yamaha keyboards. the soft sweep of pencil on paper, following the curve of the compass. the excitement and anxiety of a non-uniform day. trying to recover from cruel comments, carelessly thrown. not remembering to do homework. not remembering to go un-noticed. not caring to be on time. not caring to care. letters sent home. the pressure to pass. the pressure to succeed. finding your space in a sports hall turned exam room. waiting to start. waiting to leave.
the end of day bell. the end of term goodbyes. the - what did you do over the summer holidays? the end of school shirt-signings.
the start of something new.