Maria Corby imagines Sunny's journey of sounds and smells

9th January 2004 at 00:00
My bus stops. I know what comes next; there's the outside and a bump and then going down. The cold air makes me gasp and my escort talks to me in that nice voice: "Down we go, Sunny," she says. "And here comes Neeta."

I like Neeta. She smells nice and has bracelets jangling up her arm. I always know it's her when she comes to see me. I like that. "Hello, Sunny.

It's a cold one today," she says. She puts a hand to my cheek, and I can smell her and feel and hear her bracelets. I smile. She's moved behind me now and I can feel her weight on the back of my chair. I brace myself.

"Sorry, Sunny," says Neeta. "We'll have to get Aileen to look at these brakes - they really jump, don't they?" I smile.

Neeta pushes me towards school. Over the rough grass, on to the concrete ramp and along the footpath. This bit's usually smooth. Crunch, crunch? "There are some acorns on the ground," says Neeta. Acorns? What are acorns?

I hear my bus pull away and jerk to see. My arms go over the sides of my chair. I hope Neeta notices; we're coming towards the door. We're getting nearer and I'm scared my arms will catch. I tense up. "Arms in, Sunny," says Neeta at the last minute, leaning over to put my arms back where they should be. Her face is on the top of my head, her hair covering my face. It feels funny and I don't like it.

I know where we are. It smells of washing and spray stuff. Neeta is talking to me. "We've just got to take my lottery money to Rachel," she says.

Rachel is in the room with the big ones. It smells scary in there and the noises are bad. I don't want to go. Then I hear a bleeping. "I've got to go," says Neeta. "Nathan, can you take Sunny to her class?" Neeta comes to the front of me and puts her hand on mine. "Bye," she says. "See you later." I feel sad. I don't know this one who's with me now. I can feel his face near my face. He smells like the ones in the big room. "Hello, I'm Nathan," he says. "I'm on work experience, I'm going to take you to your classroom."

I like Nathan. I like his smell. I smile. But we're going the wrong way.

Suddenly we stop and Nathan is gone. I'm in Neeta's room with the pipe music and the burning smell. She's stroking my hair. "What was all that about?" she says to me. "How long did the fit last?" asks another one.

"About a minute," says Neeta, "She's fine now, but I can't think what brought it on."

Maria Corby is deputy head of a special school for pupils with severe and multiple learning difficulties. She writes under a pseudonym

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