My favourite time of year has always been the summer holidays. Not because of the weather, because of the time off school. Just under 2 months off with no work, no deadlines, no waking up at 6:30 in the morning to catch the bus – it’s heaven. But now it’s September 1st, and time to go back.
It’s with a heavy heart that I step off the bus and begin to plod towards the ugly grey building where I will be held prisoner for the next 7 hours. My eyes feel heavy too, but I think that’s more to do with the fact that I got 4 hours less sleep last night than I’m accustomed to. The steady stream of students flowing off the bus around me all look as though they feel the same way – dark bags under eyes, stifling yawns, shoulders hunched under the weight of books stuffed into tattered rucksacks.
After what seems like an 8-mile hike from the bus stop to the school gates, I finally enter the dreaded building. I have to take a moment to adjust to the harsh lighting, a stark contrast from the last rays of summer sun trickling through the clouds outside, but once I can see clearly again I, well, I hate what I see. The green lino floors that would have been so beautifully polished over the summer are already covered in hundreds of muddy footprints. Gaggles of students group together by lockers sharing stories of summer and no doubt gossiping already. A herd of raucous boys hurtles down the corridor kicking a football between themselves. Everyone lets them get on with it, knowing the ball will have probably been taken off them by the end of lesson three.
I begin to navigate my way through the swarms of students. The noise levels are overwhelming, as are the smells that hit me like a brick wall. You can almost taste the deodorant and aftershave on the air. I avoid going near the toilets, where there will be girls fighting over mirror space so they can reapply the layers of makeup that their parents made them take off this morning before they were allowed to leave the house.
I reach my locker just in time, the sharp and sudden shrills screech of the bell ringing out as I pick up my book for the first lessons. I click my padlock shut then allow myself to be carried along by the river of students streaming towards the classrooms, books in hands. Oh, let the fun begin.
– – –
7 hours later and I’m out of the classroom like a bullet as soon as the bell rings to signal the end of the day. I throw my books haphazardously into my locker, swing my rucksack onto my back and practically run for the doors. All around me, herds of students do the same, eager to get out in the sunshine we’ve been locked away from all day. I push my way past the gossiping girls huddled by their lockers, the band of boys waiting outside the head-teachers office to get their football back and burst out into the fresh air, the weather reflecting my joyous mood at leaving school. I hurry down the street and manage to catch the first bus just before it pulls away, saving me from the mind-numbingly boring wait for the second one. However, as I sit down on the worn-out fabric of the seat and watch the squat concrete building slowly decrease in size and retreat behind me, a horrible realisation dawns upon me. I may have survived today – but I’ll have to do it all again tomorrow.