There is a picture of Willow on the right, BTW <3 --------------->

I remember my first day of school as if it were yesterday. 

The crisp, autumn air gently blew my light brown hair over my shoulder, whistling at my red dress, my white ankle socks forever crawling down my legs, so I had to keep stopping to yank them up. My mother was leading me across the bustling playground, but I leaned back on my heels, stopping like a ship with an anchor. 

“Mummy! I can’t. I’m scared.” 

“There’s nothing to be scared of, darling!” said Mum in a light, reassuring tone. “It’ll be fun.” 

“No it won’t! It’s big and scary and I don’t like it,” I whined, as a couple of towering juniors smirked at me. 

“Please, let’s go back,” I pleaded, tears of anguish starting to well up. A couple spilled over, stinging my cheeks. 

Mum inhaled sharply, holding the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger for a moment, and then breathed out slowly. Then she gave me a sunny, if not exasperated, smile and gently wiped away my tears. 

“C’mon- you’ll love it, you wait and see, sweetheart.” 

I was sure I wouldn’t. I nuzzled into Tara,my teddy bear, rubbing my nose against her woollen warmth; she made me feel a little braver. But before I knew it, I was in the classroom. 

I stared around; children were squealing, pushing, playing lots of different games. There was a little group of girls clustered around the doll house; some boys had play dough up to their elbows, laughing and singing; and there was a little solemn group of both boys and girls, who weren’t quite sure what to do with themselves. I looked in fear and yet fascination, until a familiar lady came up to us. 

She grinned at me. 

“Hello, poppet,” she said cheerily. “What’s your name, then?” 

I looked up at my mum. She smiled encouragingly, which, again, helped me pluck up a little courage. 

“Willow,” I whispered, in a hoarse, almost inaudible voice. 

This lady smiled again; she had little creases either side of her eyes, which suggested that she smiled a lot...I always was an observant little girl. This helped calm me considerably. 

“Willow, eh? What a beautiful name.” She consulted a book, briefly running her finger down it, until it stopped and stabbed at the page. “Ah yes, Willow Darwin.” She placed the book on her desk. “So you must be Mrs Darwin?” 

Mum laughed. “I wish.” She raised an eyebrow significantly, though I didn’t understand it at the time. “I’m divorced, you see. But Willow still has her father’s name. I’m Leigh Ryder.” She extended a hand, and the two women nodded and smiled as they shook. “And you must be Miss Gladwin?” 

“That’s me.” 

“Willow, this is your new teacher, Miss Gladwin. She will look after you while you’re at school. You’ve met before, at the open day,” Mum explained. “Now, darling, I’ve got to go now. I’ll pick you up later, ok? You have a good day; I’m sure you will.” 

She smiled at me, placed down Tara Teddy and walked away, leaving me. 

I was on my own. 


“Now then, Willow,” Miss Gladwin said kindly. “What would you like to do? Sandpit? Play dough? Or maybe join the other girls at the doll house?”