I'm cold, huddled at the back of class with my arms wrapped right around my, so it looks like I'm holding myself together. The draught that is making me shiver blows through one of many cracks in the grimy school windows, and it teases at my hair and pinches my ears and nose.
The teacher is talking about the American Civil War, but I don't listen. She's drawn a complicated timeline on the board, but I can't see it; the lines merge and blur until the whole thing is an unreadable mess.
I need glasses, the school nurse keeps telling me, before patting me on the head and giving me a free peppermint. I always throw it in the bin though. I can't stand the flavour.
Mint reminds me of hospital. The childs ward, that everyone always said had a ligering smell of toothpaste. I remember lying very still on a hard, narrow little bed, with a bandage over my right eye.
I could see Mum arguing with a Doctor. They tried to keep their voices low, but strains drifted through the half closed office door.
'But I can't possibly afford...'
'She needs proffesional help...'
'They would never to that to little Lisa...'
'Difficulties at home, violence issues...'
'How dare you.... I'm not a criminal...'
I tried so hard not to listen, but I had no control over my body, and however hard I thought of birds or cars or drawing, all I could here was my Mum's stressed voice.
'Lisa? Lisa are you paying attention?'
I look up at the teacher. The whole class is staring at me, eyes accusing, not a single face friendly.
'Lisa. Please come here.'
I rise unsteadily to my feet, and stumble down the aisle between desks. Catcalls and whispers follow me, feet thrust out from under desks in an attempt to trip me.
I almost make it all the way to the front, before I recieve a swift kick to my shin. I cry out and grab my leg, tears welling in my eyes. The teacher says nothing.
Hobbling forwards, I keep my eyes low.
'I would like you to take this note to the headmaster, Lisa. Please return only when you have seen him.'
The eyes of thirty nine year olds are boring into the back of my head as I nod again.
'And Lisa.' The teacher leans forwards, right over the desk, so I can smell the lavender wash powder on her cardigan. 'Don't think I don't notice your bruises. I want you to go to the nurse again, please.'
She drew back, coughed into a handkerchief and continued the lesson as if nothing had happened.
I tripped my way out of the door and into the hall, where I sank to the floor and sobbed into my hands, still clutching the note for the Headmaster.