Allie groaned and let her face fall into her hands, fingers disappearing into the short curly mass. She'd been dreading this day for weeks, ever since her teacher had first announced it to the class the first day after the Easter Holidays ended. Now here she was, sitting at her desk in the foremost row, head in her hands with a bright purple slip of paper in front of her. Groaning frustratedly she leaned forward and picked it up tentatively as if the paper might at any moment come to life and bite her fingers.
At the top of the page was stamped the school crest, a large shield flanked on either side by two white swans, their necks curving gracefully and wings folded neatly at their sides. Below the shield, surrounded by a decorated banner were several Greek words which, Allie knew, translated roughly as: With Grace and Dignity. Then, in a simple black "Times New Roman" font, were the words Allie dreaded more than any others:
I hereby give consent for my daughter ............. to go on the school's educational field trip to Brightwell Sport's Centre on the 21st of Febuary, 2010.
Allie stared at the paper, teeth gritted and cheeks burning angrily. All around her her classmates chattered excitedly, their voices ringing in Allie's ears like bells. As hard as she tried to shut them out, Allie couldn't help but catch snippets of their conversations:
"... state of the art facilities..."
"... I hear they have a new gymnasium..."
"... There's even an Olympic-size swimming pool!"
Pushing the palms of her hands hard against her face, trying to fight back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her. Allie tried to make herself as small as possible. Every time Miss Phyllis announced to the class that there would be a field trip, every time an outing was mentioned and every time these ominous bits of paper were handed out, Allie just wanted to make herself disappear. This one, however, was worse than all the others combined. A sport's centre, really, could they have been any less sensitive in their choice of destination? Allie sighed defeatedly, slipping the piece of paper into her school bag and packing up her books to leave. Her classmates continued to talk, all bouncing with excitement at the prospect of going to the centre. As they all filed out of the room, Allie hung back by the door, still biting back the tears that sprung to her eyes before, finally, wheeling her chair across the room and pushing the door aside.
What use would it be going to a sport's centre when she didn't even have legs to play sport with?