It’s the first day at Cardinal Wiseman. It’s not a technology college yet. We haven’t quite got that carried away. The RE rooms don’t exist yet either, there’s just a load of prepubescent kids trapped in the small playground. There are a lot of my nightmares trapped in that small playground, but I never knew it on my first day.
I’ve lived twenty two years, but I haven’t developed yet. A boy who will get a scorpion tattooed on his back will tell me that I’m so skinny that I’ll never have a boyfriend. Another boy will tell everybody that I haven’t learnt how to maintain myself yet – he’ll brag about my unibrow as if it’s something he grew on my forehead himself. A group of girls will snigger at how ugly I am. The same group of girls will team up with some of the boys to spit their phlegm all over me – in my hair, on my clothes, in my bag, so my hand reaches down into it. I will cry – not because of the phlegm – but because it’s a result of ignorant people pronouncing my last name incorrectly. ‘It’s not Greeney’, I will say, ‘It’s Grainy’. Nobody will listen until Year 11.
With my adult mind and all of its experiences trapped in my child’s body, I will still wear the skirt that was way too short for me – because I knew my Mom couldn’t afford to get me another skirt at that moment in time. I will still wear the knee high, patterns made of holes socks with my oversized, clumpy shoes. Anxiety will still eat at my insides, because even at twenty two, some characteristics never leave you.
Only this time, I won’t navigate my way around the claustrophobic playground in an attempt to make friends. This time I’ll go straight up to the children that called me names, the boy who threw chewing gum in my bum length hair so I had to cut chunks out, the girl who stole my shoes from the changing rooms and threw them in the bin and the girls that used to spit their phlegm on me – the ones who are mothers now.
This time I’ll navigate my way around the claustrophobic playground and tell them all that there’s a reason why the small playground feels that way. It’s because of me. It’s because I will shine brighter while they try to diminish me, it’s because I will grow stronger though they will break me down so many times, I will shake off their degrading phlegm patches and stand dry, proud and successful. My twenty two year old mind will give my twelve year old self the courage to have faith in who she is on that first day of school and who she will grow to be for the rest of her life. Because for a while before twenty two, at twenty two and onwards, she was, is and will be phenomenal.
I don’t really need Zoltar’s Revenge, because I’m already enjoying my own.