• Reading Level 5

Teachers: winner

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Nicole, Lilian Baylis Technology School

Winner of the teachers category, Celebration Day writing competition 2023

London, 1965

The sound of the drips from the kitchen tap were more distracting than the wails of her three year-old brother who had just swallowed a bottle of antibiotics and was suffering from agonising stomach cramps, clutching himself in agony. Her baby brother lay still in the cot, six months old and oblivious to the commotion in the scene around.

Two year-old baby girl sitting on the passage floor crying mercilessly. Where were the adults? Why had they been left alone? Was anyone going to come?

A door crashed down and adults filled the tiny council flat. People in different uniforms and clothes. A blur before the little girl’s eyes. It was as if no one noticed her, sitting on the floor there. She watched yearningly as her brother was carried away on a stretcher…

Sidcup, Bexley 1970

The sweet, fresh air filled her nose as salty, old tears left her eyes like teenagers leaving the house in a rage. Staring through the steamy window of the children’s home, she watched her beloved father drive away. Why was he leaving them? Again? Her uncombed afro stood up like chocolate candy floss, uncared for. Unmanaged. No mother to comb her hair. No mother to hold her dear…father had returned them (like a library book)yesterday. He had gone on a pub crawl all night, leaving her and her brothers in the car. He always left them with food and water so he wasn’t all bad.

Blackfen, Bexley 1976

Cigarette smoke wafted from her mouth and clung to the walls of the dark shed. School was almost over and she was done for the day. Thirteen years old and already fed up with life. She left the shed and gazed over at the students on the running track, nostalgically. She coughed, despite herself. Maybe in another life… Their father would be collecting them and taking them for the night to stay with his new wife. He would have them all back before they knew it…a constant cycle of rejection! Hellos and goodbyes…she always wondered why they had to stay at the children’s home when her father had a perfectly created home that could provide them with all that they needed.

London, 1983
Her pregnant stomach bulged out in front of her. She looked in the mirror and watched herself caress her unborn love. Her unborn teacher.

London, 1984

It was like a murder scene! Blood everywhere…a baby crying…a young woman sobbing holding her swollen, cut eye in agony. He had done it again with no remorse but this time would be the last time he put his hand on her. She was taking her baby and getting as far away from him as possible. She knew it wouldn’t be easy but she had to do something. And she did.

This is the early story of my mother, a woman I view as the most courageous woman ever. A woman who never knew a mother’s love but had courage enough to learn to love again and be loved. Her story reminds me that no matter what card we are dealt in this life, we must continue on full of fear and willingness to overcome that fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it is the ability to keep walking even when the road is treacherous!

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