I entered Miss Morrison’s office, read the sign ‘Head of Pastoral Care’ as I did so. As I turned to look into the office I was entering, I saw two people – Leanne and a man I didn’t know or recognise. “Take a seat Sandra.” Miss Morrison offered me a seat, which I took. She went and whispered something to Leanne and the man, who I presumed at this point was another police officer. They both nodded before turning to me. Miss Morrison sat down as the man started speaking.
“My name’s John and I believe you already know Leanne.” I nodded in response; I wasn’t in the mood for talking much. “Err, right, well last night we had a call from your dad to say you’d gone missing,” I looked down at my knees, my back hunched over, “where did you go?” I was going to play the ‘being dumb’ route, but figured that they’d all see through it straight away. This time in reply I shrugged, if I told them I figured they’d ask even more questions than they were going to. Miss Morrison sighed.
“We’re here to help you sweetheart, not to tell you off.” What did they know? I thought to myself. They didn’t know anything about my life, nothing about what goes on. “I want to say. I really do Miss. But if he ever found out…” Those damned tears were coming back again, like they always do. I wiped my eyes, tried to clear the what-he-called weakness from my eyes. “Who sweetheart, who are you scared of?” I looked at Miss Morrison, could see that she wanted to help. I couldn’t understand how she knew I was scared of him. What else did she know, could she find out? I shook my head, couldn’t bring myself to answer. I began to pick at the ladder that was forming in my tights. “Look. I want to help you, correction, we want to help you, and I think you want us to help you too, but,” she sighed, “we can’t do that if you won’t tell us what’s going on.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t. I just can’t”. “Miss, can I talk to you?” “I was so not just on Facebook then!” Miss Morrison said hurriedly. She looked up from her laptop to see who had spoken. She saw who it was, a pupil in year eleven called Donna Weston. “Sure” she answered. “Take a seat.” Kim pointed to one of the sofas in her office, since this girl had not been sent to her for a telling off. Donna took the offered seat, not really wanting to talk to her teacher about what she was there to talk to her about. “What can I do for you Donna?”
“Erm, I’m not sure where to start really.” She sighed. “It’s about Sandra, Sandra McDougal.” Donna felt uneasy; she hated the idea of talking about her friends behind their backs, especially one of her best friends. This however had caught the attention of Kim, for only today had she had the police and Sandra in her office. “What about her?” enquired the teacher. “In P.E. today, when we were getting changed, I couldn’t help but notice that she had bruising on her shoulders. It’s probably none of my business, and it’s probably nothing, but, I don’t know…I guess I’m worried about her. The shape and size of the bruises, it’s not natural Miss.”
“Have you noticed anything different about her? I mean in the way she acts around others?” This was all very interesting to Kim Morrison. She had suspected something was wrong; the way Sandra wouldn’t answer any questions. How she had seemed scared to even look at the police, let alone talk to them. “Well, yeah.” Replied Donna, “but I just put that down to her Mum’s death. I know that any death can make someone act different, especially such a sudden one.”
“Did you notice bruising any where else?” “I didn’t look to be honest but I did notice small cuts along her arms, if that means anything.” Kim shook her head, a look of false confusion on her face; she didn’t want to worry the girl about something that could be nothing, could be innocent. The bell rang outside the office, signalling the end of break. “Okay, is there anything else?” This time it was Donna’s turn to shake her head. “Then if you want to get off to next lesson please.” Stupid statement really Kim thought. No student really wanted to go to their next lesson! “And Donna.” She added as her pupil was just exiting the office. “Thank you. If you think of anything else you know where to find me.”
Kim Morrison smiled a sad smile. All this was bringing back the memories of her own childhood, of how she had been treated at home. Maybe the way to get Sandra to talk was to make her aware that she wasn’t the only one. That she wasn’t the only one who has been abused; if that’s what’s happening. “Oh, and Miss,” Donna had come back to the office, “can you not tell her it was me who told you please? About the bruises I mean.” “Err, yeah sure.” “Thanks Miss.”
Kim supposed that Donna thought Sandra would fall out with her if she found out about what Donna had told her. That’s what it usually is anyway. She continued to think about what had been said throughout the day, trying to piece the puzzle together… After sorting out a fight that had happened at lunch, I sat down to eat my ham, brie, lettuce and grape sandwich, taking note of the fact I had only 10 minutes until the end of lunch, until I had to teach. I was just about to take my first bite when there was a knock on the door. Typical! I glanced at my clock once more before I yelled for whoever knocked to come in. To my surprise it was Kim who walked through the door.
“Why did you wait outside? You usually just come marching in!” “Sorry,” she answered. “There were some boys being annoying outside your office, so I thought I’d send them outside.”
“Ah right. Anyway, what can I do for you?” “Err, well. It’s about Sandra McDougal again. I had Donna Weston in my office before third lesson telling me how she’s seen bruising on Sandra’s shoulders and small cuts along her arms. She said that she’s worried about Sandra and quite frankly I am too. And I’ve only just managed to begin following it up.” Kim must have seen the confused look on my face so she continued. “I went to ask her teachers how they feel she’s been behaving and apparently she wasn’t in third period today.”
“Do we know where she is?” “No” Kim responded, “but I haven’t managed to ask her friends yet.” Without a moment’s hesitation I said “Then our first priority is to find her. Second is to find out what’s going on.” I saw Kim nod. “I thought I’d better tell you first, before running round the school like the mad lunatic I am!” “Well you’ve got one thing right there!” I laughed. Kim ignored this joke however, her mind obviously on the task at hand. “Do we know if she’s still in the grounds?” Kim shook her head.
“No but I’ve got Linda in the office to looking at the CCTV.” We’d looked everywhere for Sandra, all four sets of girl’s toilets, the empty classrooms, all the nooks and crannies that you would usually find people, even the girls changing rooms! We were just about to give up looking and return to the office to see if she’d left the grounds when Kim suggested one more place. “What about that little building by Humanities, you know the one with the kind of shelter roof thing in the middle?” “What, the building where all of the smokers used to hang around?” I asked making sure that we were thinking of the same place.
“Yeh,” was the response I got, along with a nod of the head before Kim turned and walked towards the building. I hung back, thinking. I knew what a life Kim had had when she was a kid. Everybody agrees that no-one should have to go through that, but I couldn’t help but wonder if all this was having an impact on her. I knew she never really spoke of what happened, not even to her daughter, and they were as good as best friends. Maybe these feelings were what were driving Kim’s persistence, that’s good, but if she became too persistent… I decided I would keep an eye on her, make sure she didn’t push Sandra too much to get to the truth. In my opinion, Sandra would open up when she’s ready, just as long as she knew who to turn to.