Sure mad behind altogether. Day 11 over at Word Bohemia.
We all saw them, but we pretended we didn’t.
For shame, you might say. I was only a child. I just knew that while my shoes were sometimes scuffed and my dolls often second-hand, my mother forced me to scrub my teeth. I had baths far too often, in my opinion. But those kids never had baths at all.
All I knew that their pencils always seemed to be free ones and their copybooks tatty and stained. Maisie swore she saw bitemarks in the corners of their books. “Tiny teeth,” she said, eyes wide. “Mice teeth!” But everyone knew Maisie was one of those kids who make stuff up and no-one really took that seriously.
But we gossiped about those kids, with the thrill that first-time malice can imbue. I only knew that they smelled funny and they definitely had nits and I, having had nits before, did not want my mother dumping foul-smelling liquid all over my head again. I certainly did not want her dragging a fine-tooth comb through my hair, yanking strands from my scalp.
Whatever about me- and I never kicked or teased like some- but there was no excuse for the rest. The adults. Alannah Johnston’s mother marching up to the principal’s office and asking if those children could be moved out of the school, or failing that, a remedial class. It wasn’t right that decent people’s kids had to share a classroom with the likes of them.
It wasn’t right at all.
All the teachers pretended not to see, or care. All the way up, no-one saw anything. No-one did anything.
I pass the house when I’m out walking sometimes. Cracked windows and nature creeping in, grass growing up through the floors, the roof sagging under moss and ivy. If there was ever a place for ghosts, it would be the house those children grew up in.
But there are no ghosts. They’re all still living after all. Only their spirits died.