Orange and yellow walls, cream titled floor with random patches of grey carpet, bright blue plastic tables and chairs. Posters of Nelly the Elephant and other bright storybook characters hung on the walls between the displays, handprints and felt animals, and the large windows with thin and colourful transparent plastic cutouts hanging from the ceiling on pieces of twine, the sun shone through the cutouts. In one corner of the room was a short bookshelf with beanbags and a fluffy rug next to it.
Other children ran around, pushing prams with plastic bananas and paintbrushes in pots inside. Bree, clinging to her mother’s hand, looked around with wide eyes in a mixture of awe and fear. It was only her mother that came with her to her first day as her father had an important board meeting, which he simply could not miss – much to his wife’s annoyance. Bree didn’t mind, she was obvious to everything, except two girls arguing over a doll’s head. She looked at the teddy in her other hand, and back at the girls. She let go of her mother’s hand and wandered over to them.
“She’s progressing quickly,” the teacher, Mrs Holly, said to Bree’s mother smiling.
The shorter girl pulled on the taller girl’s sleek black hair; she in turn let out a squeak and pushed her away, tears running down her cheeks. “I’m – I’m telling onyou!”
“Nu-uh, you’re not!”
“Yes I am! And there’s you can’t do nothing about it!”
The short girl stomped on her foot. Again the black-haired girl cried out and slapped the other round the face.
“What’s wrong?” Bree asked quietly, her voice calm. The girls stopped fighting and stared at her with curious eyes. Neither spoke. Bree glanced around, the other children weren’t taking any notice of them. “Um. I’m Bree!” she smiled. “What are your names?”
The black-haired girl looked her up and down, it didn’t change her opinion of Bree, she was just mimicking what her older sister did when she met a new person. “I’m Kelly.”
The short girl looked at Kelly with narrowed eyes. “I’m Valerie; mummy said I was named after my great-great-grandma.” She smiles, her milk teeth showing prominently, slightly wonky.
“I’m named aftermymummy’sanddaddy’s best friend, she helped birth me apparently...” Kelly said, her voice trailing off slightly.
“How do you do that?”
“I don’t know”
The three of them looked thoughtful for a moment.
“How did you get your name?” Valerie asked Bree.
Bree shrugged, hugging her teddy, “Daddy said it’s something to do with cheese. Mummy really really really likes it.”
“Oh.” The other girls said together, looking confused. “Can we play with your teddy?” Kelly asked, eyeing the golden furred teddy held tightly in Bree’s arms.
“You won’t pull his head off will you?”
“Ok. His named Sandy because I got him when I went to the beach with Mummy and Daddy and my big sister who’s in America now.”
“Wow.” They say together. “Let’s go and play,” Valerie says, dragging the girls with her to the play area as Bree’s mother and Mrs Holly watched, her mother with a smug smile at her brilliant daughter.