In his own bedroom, Jack was engrossed in the game he was playing, and was jolted back to earth by the sound of his Mum’s voice. This was her usual after school request and he’d been half expecting it. Pausing his game, he jumped up and began undressing. It was only as he started to undo his trousers that his fingers felt the dampness, and he remembered what had happened on the landing earlier.
In a sudden panic, he didn’t know what to do! If he handed his mum wet pants, he knew he’d be in trouble as it had been his own fault for not going to the toilet at the dentist or at school. But if he tried to stall, she’d only come up looking for him, and then he’d in trouble for messing about. Argh, why hadn’t Lucy just let him in straight away, then he wouldn’t have had this to worry about.
“Hurry up Jack, I haven’t got all day. I need to get the wash on so these clothes will be dry in time for Lucy to take them back to school tomorrow.”
Jack grinned momentarily at the reminder of Lucy’s accident, but then his own predicament quickly resurfaced. “Won’t be a sec Mum.” He called, stalling for time.
Next door, Lucy was concentrating intently on her homework, but heard the exchange between her Mum and brother. She really wished her Mum hadn’t shouted through the house about needing to wash the dress so she could take it back! Honestly, don’t Mums realise how embarrassing they can be. When she stopped and thought for a second though, she realised that Jack had a little problem of his own, and her Mum’s words about being a good sister echoing in her head, she quietly scampered through to his room.
“What’re you doing in here…get out!” Jack cried, noticing his sister in the doorway, and frantically pulling his dampened trousers back up, but not before she caught a glimpse of the wet underpants concealed beneath.
Jack blushed furiously now, and tears began to spring from his eyes. He felt sure Lucy would tell their Mum, and then he’d be in trouble. And any hope of her thinking him big enough to get rid of the plastic sheet would be long gone.
“Shhh Jack, Mum’ll hear, and you don’t want her coming up do you?” Lucy ventured further into the room, pulled the door closed behind her and tried to calm her brother down.
“Look, I saw what had happened when you came out of the bathroom earlier. Look, you nearly made it in time, and you would have done completely if I hadn’t been getting changed, so it’s not really your fault. Let me help, and I’m sure we can sort this.”
Jack’s eyes widened in disbelief, surely Lucy wasn’t really going to help him, not after he’d been teasing her all afternoon? Wow, he couldn’t quite believe it.
“Right, quick, get those damp things off and find yourself some pj’s. I’m going to dig out your spare school trousers from the wardrobe, they must be in here somewhere.” As Jack rummaged through his chest of drawers, settling on a pair with dinosaurs on, Lucy flicked through the hangers until she found the grey school trousers she’d been looking for. Perfect. She unhooked them, and then promptly screwed them up into a ball and threw them in Jacks direction.
He looked nonplussed, what on earth was Lucy playing at? Pulling his pyjamas on, he looked questioningly at Lucy as he asked “Why did you do that?”
“If you take the ones you were wearing down to Mum, you know she’ll make a fuss. Give me the damp ones, I’ll hide them in my room for you until tomorrow when they’ll be dry. And the undies too. Now, take the ones I gave you downstairs, and if you can throw them straight into the washer yourself, there’s less chance of Mum noticing then.”
Jack really could not believe his good fortune, and he realised he owed his sister big time! Grabbing the trousers, and another pair of undies which had been cast aside on his floor days ago, he made for the door, stopping only briefly to hug his sister on the way past and whisper a husky “Thank you, love you Luce.”
Not for the first time that day, Lucy felt a misty dampness in her eyes, and she realised just how good it felt to help him out. She slipped back into her own room, throwing the trousers and pants under her bed. Nobody ever looked under there, they weren’t that brave, so she knew Jack’s little secret would be safe.
If nothing else, she hoped that her act of kindness would be enough to ensure the teasing about her own accident would stop for good. And, who knows, Jack may even be able to help her in school, telling a few of his friends that he’d got it wrong. Ok, so everybody in her class who had seen would know the truth, but the rest of the school were just guessing and gossiping. Maybe, just maybe, she could get away with a shred of her reputation intact after all.
Jack ran down the stairs at top speed, prompting his mum to bellow “Jack, slow down, you’ll fall and break your neck! Or my floor!”
On reaching the kitchen, following Lucy’s advice he hurried straight to the washer and opened the door, noticing the dress Lucy had been wearing along with some very babyish girls underwear, and he very nearly sniggered before remembering what she had jut done for him. He was immensely grateful for Lucy’s foresight at that moment, as his Mum noticed what he was doing and called over “Leave those on the floor in front of the machine please Jack, I’ll need to separate the washing just in case that dress runs. Thanks for bringing them down, tea will be another 20 mins or so, can you tell Lucy please?”
Nodding his agreement, Jack scooted back up the stairs, stopping off at Lucy’s room on the way back to his own. He gave a quick knock and when she grunted in response he popped his head around the door, giving her a cheesy grin and a big thumbs up. “Mission accomplished! And Mum said tea will be 20 minutes.”
Lucy returned his smile, nodded that she’d heard, and then returned her attention to her homework. Well, briefly anyway. Her own thoughts soon distracted her.
In truth, her idea to help Jack hadn’t been totally original, and the damp school trousers and undies currently laid out under her bed weren’t the first items of clothing to be hidden there. She hadn’t been totally honest with herself earlier when she’d been thinking how long it had been since she’d had an accident. Ok, so not really a full accident like the disaster that had happened today, but she had sailed a bit too close to the wind a few times, and nearly come unstuck.
The whole ‘being cool’ thing by not using the school toilets and holding on until she got home almost always worked out absolutely fine for her. But, not quite always. There had been a few times where…she blushed even thinking about it…she’d made that same mad dash to the toilet when they got home from school that Jack had made earlier, with the same result.
She’d never thought of it as ‘having an accident’, as her skirt had almost never once gotten wet, and nobody had ever known. But, truthfully, at least a handful of times her undies had ended up somewhere between damp and wet. And on one occasion, memorable for all the wrong reasons, she just hadn’t been able to get them down in time at all and had ended up sat on the toilet weeing through them, hoping and praying that nobody would walk into the bathroom and catch her! That had been a nightmare, and was probably the closest she’d been to a real accident since she was about 6. There had even been a little damp patch on her skirt, like Jacks trousers tonight, but she tried not to think about that as if it was just her undies, she rationalised, it wasn’t an accident. But if her other clothes got wet…
So, yeah, her own record was far from unblemished. Not that she would ever, EVER admit that to anybody. So far as anybody else knew, today’s incident was the first time anything like that had ever, EVER happened to her. And she knew she was going to have to be very careful to make sure that it was the last time too.
The first time she’d been caught a bit short, she’d panicked just like Jack had earlier, and she was terrified that her Mum would find out and scold her. So that’s where the idea came from, she’d swapped her undies for fresh ones from the drawer, and had hidden the soggy ones under her bed to dry out. When her Mum had called for the laundry, she’d naturally taken the clean ones she’d put on down along with her skirt and blouse, and nobody had been any the wiser.
Her Mum had told her off about running to the loo when she got home a couple of times, that it wasn’t good for her and what would happen if she didn’t make it. Soooo embarrassing. Anyway, so far as her Mum knew, she always did. And it was going to stay that way. Today was definitely a one off.
She was going to have to be much more careful though. She knew that if she ever had another accident, she really would never hear the end of it, and her life would basically be over. It was going to take a long time for people to forget as it was. Even now she couldn’t quite believe what she’d done, and to make it even worse that it had all been for nothing too! She was going to up her game, and if she had to she’d even start using the school toilets. Becky had done today, after all. It had to be better to use the loo at lunch than to run even the remotest risk of a disaster happening.
“Lucy, Jack, tea’s ready.” Lucy snapped out of her daydream. That was quite enough of those sort of thoughts, and after only picking at her sandwich lunch, she was ravenous.
After tea, Lucy settled down for some intense gossiping with ‘the girls’, now that her phone had charged back up and the dreaded homework was out of the way. She hated to admit it, but it actually was better to just get it done, as now she could relax and chat with her mates. She couldn’t wait to catch up with them all, it had been at least 2 hours now since she’d seen any of them, almost a lifetime!
She smiled as the phone powered up, all of the notification sounds telling her that there was lots to catch up on, and also reassuring her that she was still popular with her friends despite what had happened earlier at school. She had been so worried.
As she began working through them all, however, her heart sank and the tears that seemed to have been ever-present that day returned for an encore. Message after message, post after post, they all seemed to be mocking her. She was absolutely heartbroken, how could her friends do this to her?
What really did it though was when she came across a photo, posted by one of the girls in her class. Not just any photo though, this was a photo of her wet and dripping, walking to the classroom door with Mrs Jenkins arm around her and the biggest, most obvious wee stain right across the back of her school skirt. Lucy felt crushed, absolutely devastated. She cried out in anguish, and sobbed uncontrollably into her pillow. Any hope of keeping this quiet had gone, the photo had been shared dozens of times already. She doubted there was anybody in the town, never mind the school, who hadn’t seen it. She was finished, and she knew it.
Hearing her young daughter crying out as if in pain, Mrs Daniels immediately called up the stairs “Lucy, are you ok? What’s the matter?”
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Lucy screamed in reply. “I WISH I WAS DEAD!”
Panicking now, her Mother abandoned the washing up and ran up the stairs, bursting through Lucy’s door to find the girl curled up on her bed and absolutely distraught. She realised there was no point trying to get any sense out of Lucy whilst she was in this state, so sat down on the edge on the bed and tried to soothe her daughter whilst she calmed down.
Eventually, some time later, Lucy was able to stutter out “E…e…very bbbody knowsss Mummy.” Between her sobs, and gestured to her phone which was lying abandoned on the bed.
Picking up the phone and glancing at the photo which was open on the screen, Mrs Daniels blood ran cold. Who had done this, and why? What a cruel thing to do, now she could see why Lucy was so upset.
It took an awful lot of reassurance from her Mum, but eventually Lucy did calm down, and together they looked through the posts and messages. By doing this, she could see that whilst the wider class and school had all been sharing her shame, her own circle of friends were notably absent, and the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach did ease a little at this realisation. At least her girls were sticking by her, and boy was she going to need them if everybody else was making fun.
The most devastating thing for Lucy though, by far, was when she realised just how many older kids had commented or shared the posts and the photos. This meant that everybody in her new high school was going to know. She’d forever be the little girl who weed herself at school in year 6. As somebody for whom image was everything, Lucy felt like her whole world was crashing down around her ears. How would she ever be able to show her face in public again? In school? She couldn’t bear to even this about it.
Lucy had lost her appetite for gossip now, knowing that half of the kids in the town would be talking and laughing about her kind of took the shine off it for her. Besides, she was worried about talking to her friends just in case they were going to make fun other too. They’d not shared the photos, but that didn’t mean they didn’t think she was a baby. No, right now she just wanted to be alone.
It was only early, still before 8pm, but after her Mum went back downstairs to carry on her chores Lucy decided she’d had enough of today, and wanted to call it a night. She popped to the bathroom to clean her teeth, washed her tear streaked face and then drank two large glasses of ice cold water. All of that crying had made her so very thirsty.
Crawling under the duvet and cuddling up to her childhood soft toy, which she hadn’t slept with for at least a couple of years, poor Lucy cried herself to sleep, wishing she didn’t have to wake up the next day and face the world.
Downstairs, Mrs Daniels was seething. She couldn’t abide bullying, and seeing her little girl so heartbroken made her shake with rage. She toyed with the idea of writing an email to the school, but quickly realised that she wasn’t in the right frame of mind and would no doubt make everything worse. Besides, from what Lucy had said, many of the kids involved were older and had already moved up to the high school. Instead, anxious to vent and also hoping for some reassurance that Lucy’s friends were still on side and would help her through this, she picked up her phone and called her friend Jenny, who was Becky’s Mum.
The call was quickly answered with “Hi Lesley, how are you?”
“Hello Jen. Don’t ask!”
“Oh dear, that doesn’t sound good. Becky told me Lucy had a really rough day today, how’s she doing now?”
“Oh she’s absolutely in bits love, genuinely heartbroken. She’s mortified by what happened, of course, but I’d just managed to calm her down and then she found out people had taken photos and where sharing them around on the internet. I just don’t know how to help her, she’s cried herself to sleep upstairs.”
“Oh the poor love, that’s awful. Why are some kids so bloody cruel? I really hope Becky hasn’t been involved in any of this? I’m sure she can’t have been, she’s been so upset for her little friend since she got home, bless her.”
“No, no, nothing like that. At least not as far as I know anyway. Lucy showed me the posts, and it looks like they were started by some other girls in the class, but now it’s mostly the older kids from the high school that are sharing it everywhere. That’s why she’s so devastated, because they all know now. You know how much the girls like to feel grown up, and something like this could destroy the rest of her time at school. So sorry for disturbing your evening Jen, I just really needed to vent.”
“Don’t be daft Les, you know I’m always here to listen. Rant away!”
The two mums chatted away for most of the evening, eventually moving on to different topics and putting the world to rights. It had been far too long since they’d made time for a proper catchup, and whilst both wished the circumstances were different they were grateful for the opportunity.
“When Lucy wakes up, please tell her that Becky has been asking after her.” Jenny said, as the call drew to a close.
“I will, thanks Les. And thank you for letting me bend your ear. Now I really must get off to bed, or we’ll be running late in the morning when don’t want to wake up!” The pair chuckled a goodbye, and then each made their way to bed, looking in on their respective children as they did so.
Throughout the night, Lucy slept fitfully and dreamt vividly, replaying the previous days horror over and over again, the shame of her accident and the absolute mortification of discovering the photos and comments about her clearly playing on her mind. As if going through all of that once hadn’t been bad enough, she relived that disastrous day countless times, crying in her sleep each time at the humiliation in the classroom and then the devastation that followed.
Her dreams gradually took a more sinister turn, with the comments merging into the re-run of her classroom accident, and finally in the early hours Lucy jolted awake with a blood curdling scream as she wet herself in class one last time, with all of her friends standing around laughing at her and many more kids wearing the high school uniform pointing, laughing and chanting that she was a baby. The image of her wearing her soaked skirt loomed into her mind, quickly replaced by the awful summer dress and then finally she was stood there just wearing the cartoon pants, soaked and dripping, burning with shame.
The scream that woke her had, of course, rang out through the house and roused bother her Mum and her younger brother from their own slumber. Jack was scared, in his half-asleep state he didn’t realise where the scream had come from, and he whimpered to himself as he lay there. Had he dreamt it? No, he remembered his dream quite clearly, and nobody had screamed.
Lesley was on autopilot, that scream caused her stomach to churn and she leapt from her bed knowing, in the way that only a Mum can, that she was needed. Throwing a dressing gown over her night dress and slipping her feet into a pair of slippers, she deftly padded down the landing to Lucy’s bedroom, knocking softly before letting herself in and finding her poor daughter sat upright in bed, her face a deathly white and eyes wide with fear.
The scene before her broke her heart, and she’d have done anything to be able to take Lucy’s pain and suffering away. The poor girl had done nothing to deserve this torment. Kneeling on the floor beside the bed, Lesley drew Lucy into a warm hug, whispering in her ear that she was safe and that nobody could hurt her now. Lucy just continued to sob, her anguish was relentless, everything in her nightmare had been so realistic, she still didn’t really comprehend that it had all been in her mind, she felt that she had really experienced it.
The pair sat together and held each other for a long time, with Lesley continuing her one sided conversation and doing all she could to reassure Lucy, thought she could sense that the searing pain was not subsiding.
After more than an hour in this position, Lucy’s heart rate slowly began to return to normal, her complexion whilst still pasty and wan regained a slight hint of colour and her racking sobs subsided, although the tears continued to fall. She felt broken, helpless and she just needed her mum. Right at that moment, any sense of being grown up couldn’t have been further from her mind, she was a little girl whose life was crumbling before her eyes, and only Mum could help.
Suddenly, something dawned on Lucy, a horrible realisation that caused her stomach to plummet once more. No, surely not, it couldn’t be. Could it?
The look of shock and pain etched across her features was replaced suddenly with abject horror, worry and a rising blush that soon engulfed her face. Lesley noticed this, along with a sudden quickening of her shallow breaths.
“What’s is it Lucy, sweetheart?”
With a depth of shame and humiliation she had never, ever felt before in her eleven years Lucy turned her face to her mum and uttered in a barely audible whisper “I’m so sorry Mummy, I…I….I’ve had an accident”, and with that she was again paralysed with sobs from deep within, feeling sick to her stomach and barely stopping herself from being physically sick across her bed.
Poor Lucy didn’t think it was possible to feel any more mortified than she already had, but this…this had taken away the last remaining vestiges of her self worth. She burned with the most intense feelings of shame and embarrassment, not able to look her Mum in the eye and feeling utterly disgusted with herself.
“Oh Lucy, baby, it really doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about a silly little thing like that. All that matters to me right now is that you’re ok, honestly. These things happen, it’s nothing that can’t be sorted out later. Right now, let’s worry about you, eh. Whatever has frightened you so much?”
Lesley pulled herself onto the edge of the bed and leant over to pull her daughter into a hug. Lucy was torn, however. She so wanted, so needed the warmth of her Mum’s embrace, but she knew she didn’t deserve it. She was dirty, disgusting, not worthy of being loved. That’s how she felt, and she recoiled from the touch she so craved, pulling away and curling herself up into a ball under the bedcovers. She wanted her Mum, but she just wanted to be alone too. Alone forever.
This scared Lesley. She knew her daughter, and no matter what was the matter, even when she had been in lots of trouble, even when she was terrified of something, she always wanted the closeness of a hug. What had happened to her poor little girl to make her so scared, to make her want to hide herself away? Surely something as insignificant as wet bedsheets couldn’t be the reason? What was going on in her poor, tortured little mind?
All the while, Lucy continued to sob to herself. She felt broken. Eventually she wore herself out, and succumbed to Lesley’s hug, immediately feeling the warmth of a mothers love wash over her and understanding the, no matter what, she WAS loved. She murmured into the bedclothes “I love you Mummy, I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.” Before pulling herself back upright and returning the hug, squeezing harder than she ever had before.
Worried that Lucy would be getting uncomfortable in the wet bed, Lesley gently prompted her “That must have been some really horrible dream sweetie, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Do you feel up to getting out of bed, so we can try to make things a bit more comfortable for you?”
Lucy shrugged, but then slowly nodded. “I feel all icky, Mummy. Why did this have to happen?”
Lesley noted again the name ‘mummy’ which Lucy hadn’t used for many years, but didn’t say anything let she embarrass the young girl further. “I really don’t know sweetheart, sometimes it can happen when you’re scared I guess, and wherever was going on in that dream of yours must have really frightened you. Please try not to worry though, it’s easily fixed.”
“Can I go and get cleaned up?” Lucy’s voice was barely audible, husky and raw from the screaming and crying.
“Of course you can darling. Tell you what, you go and jump in the shower if you like? Or would you prefer a quick bath to freshen you up? And whilst you’re doing that, I’ll take care of things in here and then pop downstairs and make us a nice hot chocolate. If you feel like talking, we can. If not though, that’s fine too.”
Nodding again, Lucy nearly managed a weak smile a the thought of hot chocolate. Not quite, but nearly. She moved as if to throw back her duvet, as she always did when getting out of bed, but then hesitated as she remembered the horror that hid beneath. Instead she crawled out, blushing a deep crimson again at the sight of her saturated pyjama bottoms. Now this really was something that she honestly couldn’t remember happening to her before, and it’s something she deeply wished hadn’t happened right now. Without looking at her Mum, she hurried out of the room and across to the bathroom, pulling the door closed behind her.
A short time later, Lesley heard the sound of running water, a bath being drawn. She was glad, as she knew that a nice bath always helped her to relax when she was upset and worked up. Plus it would give her a little time to take care of the bed, and to conjure up the promised hot chocolate. Maybe even with a biscuit or two on the side.
In the room next door, Jack had started to drift back off to sleep as the commotion had settled down. Whatever it was, he certainly wasn’t brave enough to venture out of bed to find out, and it sounded like his Mum had things in hand. As his eyelids began to close, he heard an odd sound. Who was running a bath at this time of night? The only time he’d ever known that was when he was younger and he’d woken up to a wet bed. His mum had always insisted that he got cleaned up before going back to sleep, usually in her bed, He knew that hadn’t happened tonight, unless…no, surely not. And with that bizarre thought floating through his mind, he was asleep again.
As Lucy relaxed in her bath, tears continuing to roll down her cheeks at the shame of what had just happened, Lesley set to work tackling the bed. Stretching across, she unhooked the bedsheets and bundled them together ready for the washing machine, casting a rueful look at the large wet patch on the nearly new, and particularly expensive, mattress! Lucy was of course long past the stage of bedwetting accidents, so she’d not had a plastic sheet on her bed for probably at least 5 years, but right at that moment her Mum really wished she’d left one on there.
Truthfully, even Jack seemed to have finally passed that phase, she’d not had to change his bed in the middle of the night since before Christmas, so she’d really been hoping that the days of wet sheets were long behind her. Ah well, she knew Lucy hadn’t been able to help it, and it was just a one-off after all, she was sure. Setting aside the bundle of sheets, she next turned her attention to the pink duvet cover, noticing a damp area which meant it had obviously taken some collateral damage. Off that came too, and together with the sheets she took it out onto the landing.
Before heading downstairs to load up the washer, she bobbed a head briefly into Jack’s bedroom, and was relieved to see that he was still fast asleep. Apart from knowing how cranky he always ended up whenever his sleep was disturbed, she was glad that Lucy would be spared the embarrassment of her little brother knowing she’d had another accident. Yesterday may have been her own fault, and boy had she suffered for it, but this really did seem a freak incident, and the last thing the poor girl needed was more teasing from Jack!
Passing the bathroom, she heard splashing bathwater intermingled with occasional whimpers. Knocking gently, she called out in a low voice.
“Are you ok in there Luce? Need anything?”
“I’m fine, thanks Mum.” Lucy returned, sounding downcast.
The switch back from mummy to mum again did not go unnoticed, but was not remarked upon. “Ok sweetie, I’m just popping down to put the washing in. Can I grab your pj’s quickly?”
“Ok, and yeah sure.”
As Lesley opened the bathroom door, she noticed her daughter had turned away to preserve her modesty, and smiled. Sometimes she’d think nothing of dashing through the house in her birthday suit, particularly if she’d left the call of nature a bit late, and then other times she could be so coy and shy. And that’s before she becomes a teenager! Grabbing the sopping cotton trousers from the floor, the gently close the door again behind her and crept down the stairs so as not to disturb Jack.
Washing on, and the kettle filled ready to make two steaming mugs of creamy hot chocolate when Lucy was ready, Lesley made her way back upstairs to see what could be done, armed with cleaning supplies. She’d have to try to sort the mattress before it was ruined, but how? Inspecting the extent of the wetness, she was pleased to note that it didn’t seem to have soaked in too badly, and there was no strong smell of wee. Lucy lust have drank a lot before heading to bed, she mused. You’d think she’d know better!
Eventually she settled on sponging the stained area, and then flipping the mattress over. She’d still ask Lucy to jump into bed with her when it was time to settle back down, to give it a chance to air properly, but that should mean it will be dry enough to sleep on the following day, and she’d keep her fingers tightly crossed that it didn’t leave a stain.
Once she’d soaked up as much of the wetness as she could, and grateful that despite her daughters protestations she still slept on a single bed rather than a double, Lesley grabbed the mattress with both hands and lifted it clean off the bed frame. Turning it with some considerable effort, she lay it back across the slats, something odd catching her eye as she did so.
Reaching underneath the bed, Lesley’s hands fell upon a pile of material, clothing. No doubt Lucy had kicked some laundry underneath as she fought her way through the mess that was her bedroom floor, she thought, grabbing hold and pulling the garments out into the open. How bizarre, these weren’t Lucy’s at all, it was a pair of Jack’s grey school trousers, and his underwear too! Now, what on earth were they doing underneath Lucy’s bed? She never let her baby brother into her room, calling it her ‘sanctuary’ from him, and there was no obvious reason for Lucy to have put them there herself. Curious, very curious.
Shaking her head in confusion, she set aside the mysterious bundle of clothes, and gave the room a quick blast with her air freshener, just in case any odour lingered. Then, satisfied, she made her way back down the stairs to dig out some chocolate biscuits and set to work with the hot drinks, sure that Lucy would soon be down and in need of come comfort.
Lucy had heard her Mum pottering about, and then finally descending the stairs once more. Realising that her bathwater was cooling down, she decided it was time to get out. The lure of hot chocolate may have had a little to do with it too! Grabbing a fluffy towel from the rail, she dried herself off and then realised she didn’t have any new clothes to put on! Wrapping herself tightly in the towel, to keep her warm and in case she should bump into anybody on the landing, she hurried across to her bedroom.
As she walked in and pulled the door shut behind her, she left the towel drop to join the rest of the rubbish and laundry which littered her bedroom floor. Turning, her eyes fell on the sight of her bed, stripped of its sheets and duvet cover. Seeing this, she felt the heat rising in her cheeks once more, the embarrassment threatening to overcome her again. What she didn’t understand was, why? She never, ever, EVER wet her bed! Why did it have to happen, and why only a few hours after having such a catastrophic accident in school too?
One thing puzzled her as she took in the sight of her bed, and that was the lack of wetness on the exposed mattress. She knew how wet she’d felt, her pj’s and the bedsheets had been soaked, so the mattress must have taken quite a hit too. So why did it look dry? She knew her mum was a genius when it came to cleaning up, but even she wasn’t that good!
It took a while, but her tired mind eventually came to the realisation that the mattress must have been flipped over. Yes, that made sense. Although she was confused about why there were no new sheets, maybe it was time to get up? She hoped not, as she was still exhausted and really looking forward to a few more hours sleep. And then, a thought stuck her. Oh. My. God! She dropped to her knees and thrust her hands under the bed, but it was no good, Jacks clothes had gone! Where had they gone? Had Mum found them? How would she explain that?
Panic rose within her once more, and she quickly cast her eyes around the rest of her bedroom. There, right in front of her laundry basket, was a bundle of cloth. Grabbing it, she confirmed it was in fact the missing trousers and undies No, no, no, this was just a nightmare. Why was everything going wrong for her! She ran her hands through the material, and gasped in relief as she realised that everything felt dry. Talk about a lucky escape! Ok, so she’d still probably have her mum asking why Jacks clothes were under her bed, but that would be a lot easier to explain away than why jacks wee soaked clothes were there.
What a day…first the panic over her homework, and missing the sleepover. Then her mortifying accident. Followed quickly by the torment and teasing, and then capped off by wetting her bed for the first time ever. Lucy’s entire life seemed to have crumbled in less than 24 hours. And yet, here she was at who knows what time in the morning, worrying herself silly about helping to hide her little brothers own little mishap! Bonkers, and she even allowed herself the tiniest chuckle at that thought.
Lucy spotted her phone, abandoned where she had thrown it next to her bed during her meltdown the previous evening, and whilst she had absolutely zero interest in reading any more mocking messages she did grab it to check the time. It was barely after 2am, so at least she would have the chance of a few more hours sleep. Although quite where she’d be able to catch those 40 winks she wasn’t sure, as her own be seemed to be out of action. Ah well, she’d ask Mum when she went down for her treat. Now that she knew it was still so early, the vague thought of getting dressed ready for school left her, and instead she headed for her pyjama drawer once more. Eschewing her usual preference for ‘grown up’ clothes, Lucy just wanted to be comfortable, so she grabbed a fluffy white nightie and pulled it over her head. Perfect, nice and snuggly, she thought to herself. And nobody but her Mum would see, so she really didn’t mind what she looked like at that moment.
Creeping along the landing, and even tiptoeing past Jacks door, dreading the thought of him waking and having to explain what had gone on, she descended the stairs and made her way into the warmly lit kitchen, where her Mum was waiting with 2 steaming mugs of hot chocolate, complete with cream and sprinkles, and a plate of their favourite shortbread biscuits.
“Hi Sweetie, how’re you feeling now?”
Lucy took the empty chair next to her mum, and wrapped her hands around one of the mugs. She looked into Lesley’s eyes, and her Mum could seem the depth of her sadness.
“Why did this happen Mum? I’m not a baby, why did I wet my bed like one? Even Jack doesn’t do that anymore!”
“Oh sweetheart, it’s just one of those things. Just a silly accident, not worth getting so upset over. Maybe you just had a little too much to drink before bed, or forgot to go for a wee? The horrible dream you were having probably didn’t help either. Do you think talking about that will help? It’s up to you.”
“It was horrible, mummy. I was so scared and upset in my dream, and I screamed but that was for real and it woke me up. It was like I kept reliving what happened yesterday, there I was in the classroom having an accident and everybody laughing. Then the older kids from the internet, they were all there too. They wouldn’t stop laughing, making fun of me, calling me names and pretending I was a baby.”
Lesley melted as she listened to this, her poor poor daughter. How she wished she could wipe it all away from her memory, jus pretend that the past 24hrs hadn’t happened so that she would have her confident, care free little girl back again.
She also felt her anger rising once more as she thought about how the bullies had made Lucy so very miserable, didn’t thy stop to think about the impact their words would have? How anybody could be like that she had no idea, and she was immensely proud that her own two children were growing up to be kind, compassionate people just as she had herself been raised.
Taking Lesley completely by surprise, Lucy climbed over into her mothers lap, and they sat and cuddled like this for the best part of an hour as they drank their drinks and munched on the biscuits, all without saying another word. Just the closeness was enough, and Lucy slowly unwound and relaxed again. It was an intimate moment of love between mother and daughter which meant so very much to both of them.
Noticing the time, Lesley straightened up and announced to Lucy “Come on darling, let’s try to get a few more hours sleep before it’s time to get up for school, eh? Otherwise we’re both going to be exhausted in the morning!”
The pair slowly climbed the stairs together, pausing on the landing briefly.
“Do you want to try to go to the toilet love, just in case?” This caused Lucy to blush furiously, but not prepared to take any chances she gave a tiny nod and then disappeared into the bathroom. Lesley took this time to check on Jack again, finding he hadn’t moved an inch since she’d last looked in on him, and again thinking how lucky it was that he hadn’t been roused, so that Lucy’s dignity had been preserved.
Hearing the toilet flush and Lucy running water to wash her hands, Lesley held a hand out to the young girl, who took it gladly. They continued along the landing, with Lucy automatically stopping outside her bedroom door. She looked up questioningly at her Mum “Where Am I going to sleep Mum?” This was all new to her, and she hadn’t a clue!
“We really need to give your mattress a little time to dry out properly, so why don’t you come and snuggle up with me in my bed? Just this once, mind, so don’t be getting too used to it! And don’t even think about doing this agin, just so you can sleep in the big bed.” she added with a chuckle.
“Muuuuuuuuum! How can you even say that? This…this will NEVER, EVER happen again. It just can’t!”
And with that, Lucy let go of Lesley’s hand and snuck into her own bedroom, reappearing only moments later with her teddy bear in her arms, looking rather sheepish. But she didn’t really care, right at that moment she needed the warmth and comfort he brought to her. Lesley just smiled and guided them both into her bedroom.
As they settled back against the plump, soft pillows and with the velvety duvet pulled up to their chins, they bade each other goodnight, with Lelsley leaning over to kiss her daughter gently on the forehead, and then extinguishing the lights so that the room was plunged into total darkness.
It felt like hours that they lay aware there, side by side and each turning over in their own heads the events of the past day, but both must have fallen into a deep sleep for they were not disturbed again until a feint sound caused Lesley to open just half an ear, followed by a slit of an eye, enough to see young Jack peeking around her doorframe. Slowly pulling herself upright and slotting her glasses onto her head, all the while trying to avoid disturbing Lucy who continued to sleep peacefully beside her, Lesley eventually managed to focus properly on Jack and whispered a hoarse “Good Morning” across to him, patting the small space next to her in the bed and gesturing for him to come over.
“Morning Mummy! Is t time to get up now? Why’s Lucy in bed with you?”
Lesley glanced blurry-eyed at the clock beside her bed, which read barely 5am. With a groan, she turned back to Jack and answered him in a hushed tone “It’s very early sweetie, we don’t have to get up for at least 2 more hours yet. Here, come and snuggle with Mummy and Lucy for a while.”
She carefully skirted around the question, not wanting to explain exactly why Lucy was curled up in her bed, and thinking that the promise of morning cuddles which they’d not all shared as a family since the kids were really young may just do the trick.
Jack beamed a wide smile, leaping onto the bed on the opposite side to his sister and crawling under his mums thick duvet.
“Sssss Jack, you’ll wake Lucy!” The young girl wriggled a little, but fortunately wasn’t roused from her slumber.
It wasn’t long until both Mum and Jack were dozing again, and all three awoke with a start to the sound of the loud alarm buzzing on the bedside table as the clock stuck 7am. As they all stretch and blinked in the morning light, Lucy glanced past her Mum and noticed Jack, with a pang of horror! What was he doing there? Not that she had a problem with him sharing a morning cuddle, of course, but if he was in the bed that must mean that he knew she was. Did he know why?
“Good morning loves.” Lesley smiled at both of her children, it had been a very long time since they’d woken cuddled together as a family like that, and whilst she would rather not have had the early morning crisis to deal with, she wasn’t sorry to share a cuddle with them both, not one bit.
Jack murmured a “Morning Mummy, morning Lucy.” Before snuggling back down undertone duvet, the top of his hair barely visible on the pillow. And Lucy just looked questioningly over at her Mum, blushing as she recalled the nights events and the reason she was here, and frantically shoved her cuddly toy down under the duvet before Jack could see.
“Come on, sleepy heads, time to get up and ready for school! Who’s ready for some breakfast? Tell you what, if you’re both dressed in 10 minutes then I’ll make pancakes, how does that sound?”
In typically dramatic fashion, Jack sprung to his feet and ran across the top of the bed nearly falling over in his excitement. He leapt from the end, landing on his bum with a bump before shouting “Yay, pancakes!” And running out of the room at what seemed like 100 miles per hour.
Lesley burst out laughing, and even Lucy struggled to stifle a giggle. She had to admit, pancakes for breakfast did sound good. Such a rare treat. Now that Jack was out of earshot, she turned to Lesley and said in a small voice “I’m so sorry about last night, Mum. Jack doesn’t know about it, does he?”
“You’ve nothing to be sorry about sweetheart, accidents happen. And no, don’t worry, it’s our little secret. He woke up rather early, so I just told him it was time for family snuggles.”
Lucy gave a small sigh and visibly relaxed, the thought of Jack knowing she’d wet her bed had horrified her. The smiled across at her Mum, giving her a big hug and whispering “Thanks, Mum. I love you.”
Jack, being a typical 7 year old boy, had thrown his school uniform on, without any regard to what he looked like. His sweatshirt was crumpled, and back to front, shoes on the wrong feet and he’d not even bothered to change his underwear. But, like Mum had asked, he was dressed in less than 10 minutes. In fact, it was more like a minute and a half. He was so excited as he ran along the landing chanting “Pancakes! Pancakes! Pancakes!”, causing Lesley and Lucy to look at each other and roll their eyes. Boys!
Passing Lucy’s bedroom, out of the corner of his eye Jack caught a glimpse of his school trousers and undies from yesterday, and remembered what had happened. He felt embarrassed for a spit second, but then a new strange feeling crept up on him. What were they doing there, in a pile by Lucy’s door? Hadn’t she hidden them under her bed as she’d promised? And did his Mum know?
Worrying about all of this, he plucked up the courage to poke his head into the bedroom, somewhere he never normally ventured. Keeping his eyes to the ground, in case they should fall on anything too ‘girly’ which he REALLY didn’t want to see, his gaze swept to under Lucy’s bed, but there was nothing there! Is heart leapt up into his mouth, his mum must have found them! That means she probably knows, oh no, oh no.
Jack turned away, much of his earlier enthusiasm now sapping away from him, as he knew a telling off would be coming soon. But as his vision swept past the bed, something caught his eye, and he did a double take as he took the sight in. Lucy’s bed was stripped, there were no sheets on the mattress and no sign of the duvet either. It was only as he stood taking in the scene that the vaguely remembered waking up early in the night to a scream, and then a bath being run? He thought he had dreamt it, but perhaps not. Surely Lucy, the big girl who was going to high school soon, she couldn’t have wet the bed? Could she? He never ever remembered her doing that before, not even when she was younger. He’d had a few embarrassing mishaps himself over the years, but never Lucy.
His head was spinning as he made his way down the stairs, the thought of pancakes suddenly seeming quite exciting to him again, but not nearly as much as finding out the truth!
Lucy and Lesley clambered out of opposite sides of the bed, in a much more dignified manner than Jack had managed. Pulling her dressing gown around her, Lesley popped to the bathroom before descending the stairs to make a start on breakfast. She’d be able to wash and dress whilst the children were eating, and after her disturbed night she really did need a very strong coffee before attempting anything!
Whilst her Mum was in the bathroom, Lucy stepped into her own bedroom and began taking a fresh school uniform from her wardrobe. Changing quickly, she blushed a little as she took off the rather childish, fluffy nightie she’d been wearing and realised that Jack had seen it. Normally she would have considered it far too babyish, but last night it seemed comforting when she needed it. Turning to sit on her bed whilst she pulled on her socks, the blush glowed brighter at the sight of her mattress, stripped of its bedding, and knowing with shame what was hidden on the other side. She really hoped she hadn’t ruined the mattress.
As soon as she was fully dressed, Lucy dashed from the room and pulled the door too behind her, waiting to shut away what had happened, hoping she’d be able to forget about it. As the door swung shut, however, something caught her eye. It was the same flash of red which had piqued Jack’s attention when he’d passed as she’d enjoyed the last few moments snuggled next to her Mum, and she felt almost the same horror he had as she pushed the door ajar again and realised that it was the underpants she’d hidden last night, Jack’s wet underpants, on top of his School trousers. Why were they there? They should be under….her bed! Oh no, her Mum had stripped her bed in the night, and had turned the mattress over. She must have found the clothes stashed underneath. Oh my, how was she going to explain this? And poor Jack, if Mum knew then he’d be in trouble too. Disgusted though she was, she quickly ran her hands through the fabric, and to her relief found it to be dry. At least that was something, hopefully they’d been dry when Mum had found them too. If only her bed had been as well, she thought ruefully, as she closed the door again and made her way first to the bathroom, as she wasn’t taking even the slightest chance today, and then down to the kitchen to join her Mum and Brother for a pancake breakfast.
“Mmmm, they smell delicious!” Lucy declared as she entered the kitchen, and then giggled loudly at the sight of Jack, whose face was liberally smeared with Nutella from the pancakes he’s decided to wear rather than eat.
“Thanks love, I think Jack agrees.” Lesley responded with a chuckle. “Honestly, Mister, you’re supposed to be 7 not 3!”. Jack didn’t even look abashed, licking his lips grinning broadly.
“Can I have banana on mine please Mum?”
“Of course you can sweetie, they’re nearly ready now. Would you like a glass of juice to go with them?”
“Oh, yes please, Orange please mum.” Lucy then caught herself, and quickly added “Just a small glass though, please.” She really wasn’t going to take any chances today, even if that meant she’d be thirsty all day.
As Lesley poured the juice, she thought it odd that Lucy had insisted on just a small glass, as usually she had to tell her to go easy with it. Then it clicked, she was probably worrying about what had happened yesterday, and then last nights accident on top of that too. Oh the poor girl, her heart really did go out to her.
“Muuuuuuuuummmmm” Came Jack’s voice, barely understandable through a mouthful of food, having finished stuffing himself with pancakes and wiped the remnants of the chocolate spread from his face using his school sweatshirt sleeve, much to the disgust of both Lesley and Lucy who looking on and exchanged a look.
“Jack Daniels, you finish eating what’s in your mouth please young man, and then go and wash your face properly. That’s disgusting! When you’ve done that, then you can come and talk to me.”
Now jt was Jack’s turn to roll his eyes, fortunately Lesley didn’t see this, but Lucy did and barely managed to stifle a giggle, earning a disapproving luck from her Mum.
Whilst Jack was out of the room, to spare Lucy’s blushes, Lesley took the opportunity to have a quick chat with her.
“Lucy love, I’ve washed the dress and pants from yesterday, and they’re folded up in that carrier bag on the side. Make sure you take them back to the office today, just in case anybody else needs to borrow them.” She gestured to a shopping bag on the counter, which Lucy was relieved to see was far less conspicuous than the one she’d had to carry her wet things home in yesterday. “And, I know I don’t have to say this to you, you’re a big girl and I don’t want to embarrass you, but don’t feel that you can’t use the toilet at school if you need to. I don’t know where this idea of it not being ‘cool’ to go for a wee came from, but I think you now know that wetting yourself is definitely a whole lot less cool!”
Lucy couldn’t have been any more mortified! “Mum! Don’t talk like that, please. Honestly, could you be any more embarrassing?”
Despite the attitude, which Lesley decided to let go this once, she was pleased to see her daughters confidence and fieriness was slowly starting to return.
“Ok, ok, I’ll say no more on the subject. But please think about what I’ve said.“
Jack was soon back, looking a lot less chocolatey, but the trip to get cleaned up had distracted him, and try as he might he couldn’t remember what it was he wanted to ask his Mum about. Oh well, it can’t have been important, he thought to himself. And if it was I’m sure I can ask later.
As ever on a school morning, time seemed to have run away with them, and before anybody realised it was 8am and there was the usual last minute rush to sort shoes, coats, books and bags, and to bundle everybody into the car. Lucy’s trepidation began to build as they drove the short distance to their school, nerves setting in about seeing everybody after what had happened yesterday. It was then that she realised she hadn’t even looked at her phone since the early hours of the morning, and she quickly grabbed it from her pocket and began checking the notifications, so that she knew what she was facing.
As her Mum and Jack chatted about nothing very much, Lucy was soon lost in the virtual world, engrossed in the various posts, messages and statuses which she’d missed. She determinedly avoided those she knew to be malicious, not wanting to get herself worked up into a state again before she arrived at school, instead focussing on those from her closest friends.
Firstly there was a string of messages from Becky, starting not long after they went their separate ways the evening before, and with the most recent popping up in front of her as she was reading the previous ones. They started out just asking if she was ok and saying that her friends didn’t think any less of her, then some had obviously been sent when all of the bullying was going on as they were more frantic in their reassurances. By the morning, Becky was obviously starting to panic that her best friend hadn’t replied, that was so unlike her. Now there were missed calls, messages and even posts on social media from her, all begging her to get in contact. Lucy felt bad, she should have checked her phone sooner. Not wanting to try to explain everything in a text, she just sent back a simple ‘I’m ok, sorry Becks been a rough day and nite. Nearly at school, talk to you soon x’
Most of the rest of her group of girls had messaged her too, although none quite so persistently as Becky. They were all mostly the same, asking if she was ok and what had happened. Plus their group chats were full of the same, with everybody confirming that they’d not been able to get hold of her. She was beginning to reply to them all, when she realised that it would take her longer to type all of the messages out than the journey to school, and she’d be seeing them all when she got there so she could tell them she was fine in person.
“You ok back there Luce?” Lesley enquired, realising that her daughter had been quiet for a long time, and not sure whether she may have fallen asleep after her disturbed rest overnight.
“Mhm, yeah, sorry. Yeah I’m fine thanks Mum, just catching up with everybody, didn’t really feel like it last night.”
“Honestly, you’ll be seeing them all in 5 minutes, I’m sure whatever gossip you’re all sharing can wait until then!”
Lucy rolled her eyes, her mum just didn’t get it! Turning her attention back to her phone, she glossed past various other derogatory messages, deciding not to waste her time on people like that. But message did catch her eye, and she clicked though to have a read. It was short and simple, saying nothing more than she was worth 100 of any of the ‘idiots’ giving her a hard time, and to keep smiling and rise above them, it could have happened to anybody, and hopefully it would happen to one of them next time!
The sender? It was Daniel, the boy who had defended her at school. Blimey, she felt a strange flutter again as she realised this, and suddenly she felt as if she could take on the world. Wasn’t it funny how just one message, from a relative stranger, could change her whole outlook.
Before she could think about it any further, or delve into any of the other messages that still awaited her, Lucy felt the car slowing down and looked up to see her mum just pulling into the school car park. Her resolve did start to slip just a little, but she knew she could handle this. She had to, if she went to pieces again then she’d never hear the end of it. No, the only way was to brazen it out, keep her head down but laugh along with it if the others bought it up. And, of course, much as she hated to admit her Mum had been right, to use the school toilets and not take any risks.
Clambering out of the car, Jack gave his mum the quickest of pecks on the cheek and then ran across the playground to join in a game with his friends. Lesley then slipped her arms around Lucy and gave her a reassuring hug.
“You’ll be fine, and once today is out of the way it will be easier. Remember what I said earlier though, ok?”
“Yes Mum.” Was Lucy’s exasperated reply. Ok, so she knew her Mum was right, but she wasn’t going to tell her that!
“Don’t forget to grab the bags out of the back of the car to sweetie, and pop straight up to the office with them.”
Without really thinking or paying too much attention, Lucy opened the car boot and grabbed the two plastic carrier bags which were in there. Waving goodbye, she quickly walked across the yard to the school entrance and made her way in, heading for Mrs Johnson so she could get rid of this dress once and for all, and then head back out to catch up with her friends.
When she arrived at the office, she announced her arrival as she opened the door, but nobody was there. Then, she heard a muffled voice from the back of the room “Just a second, I’ll be out in a moment.” And she realised that the secretary must be in the bathroom. Waiting, not altogether patiently as she wanted to be outside gossiping, Lucy glanced down at the bags in her hands, and then a thought struck her. Bags? Why were there 2?
She quickly looked inside the first, and saw it contained as expected the gingham summer dress and the horribly embarrassing undies that she’d had to wear the day before, both washed and dried ready to be returned. With some trepidation, she reached into the second bag, wondering what on earth would be in there. Had she picked up her Mum’s lunch or something by mistake?
Perplexed, she pulled out a grey school skirt which looked remarkably familiar. In fact, looking more closely she realised that it was the one she used to wear to school. Odd, she thought Mum had donated that to the charity shop when she’d bought the new ones. And, even odder, what was it doing here? Holding the skirt up and turning it around in her hands, she saw a handwritten note pinned to it, and recognised the loopy handwriting as her mums.
‘Thank you for helping yesterday. I thought it may be a good idea for Lucy to have a change of clothes at School “Just in case”, so have sent a skirt and change of underwear. Please keep these in school in case of an accident. If any other girl needs to borrow them, that’s absolutely fine. Thanks, L. Daniels”
Despite all the blushing she’d done over the past 24hrs, Lucy couldn’t have glowed any redder if she had tried! All of the shame and mortification she’d felt so far didn’t even come close, she’d never ever felt so embarrassed in her entire life. She knew that the reception children had to have spare clothes, but even the other infants didn’t. Did her mum really think she was such a baby?
She moved to throw the skirt back into the bag, intent on hiding it in her rucksack and then throwing it away, but whilst she was still standing there holding the skirt up Dorothy emerged from the bathroom with a cheery “Good Morning Lucy.”
“H…Hi, Miss” Lucy stuttered, hurriedly screwing up the skirt and thrusting it back into the carrier bag. “I’ve brought the clothes back” she said meekly, trying to hide her embarrassment as she handed over the carrier bag, only realising a fraction of a second too late that in her panic she’d shoved the skirt into the wrong bag, and that the secretary now had it along with the offensive note. Oh no, she just wanted the ground to swallow her up. Why did EVERYTHING to do with school have to be so embarrassing?
“Thanks Love. How’re you feeling today? A little better than last night, I hope?”
Lucy just shrugged in response, wondering whether she could grab the bag back without appearing rude, but it was too late for that. Ever efficient, Dorothy was already emptying the contents out so that they could be returned to the lost property drawer, just in case they were needed again or their rightful owner claimed them. She looked a little confused when a grey skirt fell out of the bag along with he dress, and after hurriedly folding the dress she picked up the skirt and examined it. She knew Lucy had only borrowed the dress and pants, so what was this all about?
The pinned note fell off onto her desk, and Dorothy picked it up to read. As she stood watching this unfold, Lucy was on the verge of tears once more, the one thing she had promised herself she would not do in school that day!
Finishing reading, and folding the note away, she looked up kindly at Lucy “It’s nothing to be ashamed of you know, Lucy. Your Mum is just thinking of you, and whilst I’m sure you’ll never need these, wouldn’t it be better to know you had something of your own to put on in case of an emergency? You didn’t look very comfortable yesterday wearing that dress.”
Try as she might, Lucy just couldn’t bring herself to reply, o she just nodded sadly, and fought to blink back the tears that threatened to fall. This wasn’t how she’d hoped her new day would go, not at all.
Just wanting to get away, Lucy hastily threw the second carrier bag which now just contained her own spare underwear onto the secretary desk, then turned around and ran out of the office door as quickly as she could, burning with shame.
Poor Lucy just kept running. She didn’t know where she was heading, she didn’t want to be anywhere, but she knew that above all she didn’t want to see anybody. Only yesterday, 24 hours ago, everything had seemed perfect in her life. She was popular, confident, school was going well, she had no cares or worries in the world, and she would soon be starting high school. Basically the perfect life for an 11 year old. But now, in less than a day, she’d wet her pants spectacularly in front of her class, been humiliated in front of the whole school, had photos of her shame shared around the internet, wet her bed like a baby and now it seemed even her own Mum just wanted to humiliate her! How could she have done that, after all of her kind words and reassurances, how could she? “Argh!”
Having reached the very end of the school building, Lucy tucked herself away in the corner under the staircase, hoping she would go unnoticed and could hide hear for the rest of the day. Here she sat and sobbed quietly to herself, grieving for all that she felt she had lost in just one short day. Her solitude was short lived, however, when she heard her name being called. “Lucy, where are you?”
She tried to stifle her sniffs, but somebody obviously knew she was here somewhere, and they weren’t giving up looking. Eventually, as the voice became closer and clearer, she realised it was her friend Becky. For all she had wanted to be alone, the sound of a friendly, caring voice was too much for her, and she sobbed loudly again as she replied “I’m here, Becks, under the stairs.”
Becky ran down the stairs, sliding to a halt at the bottom and dropping down to her knees right next to Lucy and throwing her arms around her best friend. “Oh Luce, you poor thing, whatever has happened to upset you so much?”
“I’m such a baby Becky. I’ve ruined everything. H…How did you f…f…find me here?”
“Now let’s just get one thing straight Lucy, you’re no baby! You’re the bravest girl I know, coming back into school today after what happened yesterday. Nobody would have blamed you for hiding away. I saw you getting out of the car and dashing into school. When you didn’t come back out, I wondered whether you’d gone to the office to, well, sort anything out. And Mrs Johnson said you had been there, but had been rather upset and had ran away, so I’ve been searching for you ever since!”
Lucy was both amazed and impressed, the meant Becky must have been searching for her for about 20 minutes. She managed a very small watery smile for her friend, who in return grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze.
“I was feeling ok Becks, a bit nervous but thought I could do it. Then when I got to the office, I found out as well as sending back the dress, Mum had also sent in a change of clothes for me, in case I had another accident. Even my own Mum doesn’t trust me. Even she thinks I’m a baby.” And with that she teared up again, hiding her face in her hands.
Becky was shocked by what she’d just heard, but tried not to show it. “But didn’t you do it on purpose Luce, so there’s no chance of it happening again, is there? It’s not like you keep on wetting yourself or anything like that! Why would your Mum think you’d need a chance of clothes in year 6?”
Lucy and Becky had been best friends for years, first meeting when they started reception at this same school, so they’d been through all kinds together. As a result of their strong bond, they also knew they could talk to each other about anything, no matter what. And, of course, as in any true friendship, they were always totally honest with each other. Although this current situation was testing Lucy’s resolve and she very nearly fibbed to her friend.
“I know Becky, I’m mean obviously she doesn’t know that I started off doing it on purpose yesterday, she’d kill me. There’s only you that knows that. But still, a one off accident in what probably 6 years or so, why would she even think that?”
As soon as she said it, Lucy was wracked with guilt, and before her friend could respond, she had to say something.
“No, I can’t do it Becks. Actually, in truth, there’s something more. But you must, MUST promise me that you’ll never tell another soul, not even once, not ever. I can’t lie to you, but this can’t, CAN’T go any further.”
Looking shocked, Becky squeezed Lucy’s hand tightly again. “You know that Luce, I’d never tell anybody anything that you said to me in confidence, just as I know I could trust you with my deepest secrets, even with my life. But whatever on earth is it that’s got you into this state?”
“I…well…it” Lucy stammered as she began, she really couldn’t believe she was about to have this conversation. “It wasn’t just that one-off accident yesterday. I don’t know why, or how, b…b…but after all of the comments online last night, I had this awful nightmare and after I woke up screaming I…I…I, oh Becks, I’d wet my bed.” The relief of telling her friend and getting this off her chest was immense, but the shame was so great, she broke down once more and cried harder than she’d ever cried before.
Before either girl could say anything further, the school bell rang loudly throughout the building, and they both realised that hundreds of kids would be filing through the door and up the stairs above their heads at any second.
Like a pair of rabbits caught in the headlights, they looked at each other in horror, neither speaking as the bell continued to ring in their ears. They knew that, right at that moment, the classes would be lining up outside ready to come in. Not only would they probably be missed, they were about to get caught hiding inside the school when everybody was supposed to be outside. Unless you were seeing a teacher or going to the office, no children were allowed to be inside until after the bell had gone.
Thinking quickly, Becky grabbed Lucy by the hand and roughly pulled her to her feet, running ahead up the stairs and pulling her friend behind. Once they reached the top corridor, they ducked into the toilets and paused to catch their breath.
“If we hang out in here for a few minutes, we can sneak out and into our class when they come upstairs. And if anybody sees us, we’ve just been to the loo.”
“Genius, Becks!” Lucy glanced at herself in the mirror as she was answering, and was horrified by the sight the greeted her. Puffy red eyes, tear streaked cheeks and, worst of all, a trail of snot that looked like something you’d see on a 4 year old. Oh my, how she’d let her standards slip!
Splashing her face with cold water, she turned to Becky nervously and asked “So, do you think I’m a baby now you know what happened?”
“Oh Luce, of course I don’t. Not at all! Come on, accidents can happen, even to the best of us. Look, I’d be lying if I said that I’d never had to have a change of bedsheets in the middle of the night.” Now it was Becky who turned a shade of red. “It’s not happened for a while now…but do you remember me leaving Charlotte’s sleepover early when we were in year 4?”
Lucy was open-mouthed as she gasped “You didn’t?? You don’t need to say stuff just to make me feel better you know.”
“I’m not babe, if I was don’t you think I’d have picked something a little less, well, embarrassing? Like my Brother had done it or something? Nope, it’s happened to me too. At least you had an excuse, you were having a bad dream an after everything that happened yesterday I think it’s perfectly understandable. Me? I just forgot to go for a wee before we went to bed.”
Lucy managed a small giggle at that, and Becky was right, he did feel a little better knowing that she wasn’t the only one. Ok, so she was the only one to do it in class in year 6, and undoubtedly the only one her age to have spare clothes sent into school, but all in all she was starting to feel a bit brighter. Now she just had to get through the rest of the day, and face the rest of her class and her tormentors.
Outside the bathroom, they heard the sound of feet shuffling past, and realised it was time to make their break, before the class had sat down and the teacher noticed they were missing. For once, luck was on their side, and they stepped out of the doorway right into their own group of classmates who were filing past. Perfect! Lucy was reassured by the warm smiles so many of her friends gave her, and even more so when a few made a point of saying hi and asking how she was, but in a subtle and discreet way so as not to draw attention to her.
When they reached the classroom, Lucy very nearly went to sit in their ‘usual’ seats, but recalling the horror the had taken place there only a few short hours ago, she couldn’t quite bring herself to do it, instead guiding Becky to the desk t the very back, thinking that today of all days they may need to chat a little more than usual, so being further away from Miss Jenkins could only be a good thing.
The desk across the back of the room had three chairs rather than the usual two, and it didn’t escape either of the girls notice that none of the others had chosen to come and sit with them. Not that it really mattered, but usually there was never an empty seat next to Lucy, so it certainly stood out a bit. Lucy however shrugged this off, if the worst she had to put up with today was her mates choosing to sit a bit further away, after everything else that had happened, she could live with that. Besides, she thought charitably, perhaps they just wanted to give her and Becks some space. Yeah, that was probably it.
As they began taking out their books and pencils, along with their water bottles (not that Lucy intended to touch hers…definitely taking no chances!), a deep but nervous voice came from behind. “D’ya mind if I join you? I mean…if nobody else is sitting here, that is.”