Mum says I’m not well, she wants to send me away. She even took me to the doctor; he knocked on my chest, just like you knock on a door and made me cough. And breathe. I breathe all the time, sometimes I breathe very hard, like when I run or play hopscotch with Lucy and Jenny. Lucy is my best friend ever. Jenny is my best friend too, but not like Lucy, I like Lucy better, she can’t run fast and we play together nicely, Mum says.
The doctor waggled his head when he finished knocking on my chest and my back. I like him, his hands are warm and he gives me a sweetie. We’ll try to get her into the next group, he said, six weeks of sea air will do her good.
Six weeks, that’s forever. I think it must be a very long time, because when Mum and I told Miss Speer, she also waggled her head a bit and said, she will miss most of the summer term then. Miss Speer is my teacher, she is very, very old, she has her hair all scraped back, with a bun in the back and lots of grips and when she smiles her face goes all crinkly. She is really lovely. Except when she has to leave the room and she makes me stand in front of the class and write down the names of naughty children on the blackboard. I don’t like that. But Miss Speer says I must do it, you must do your duty, she says. I wish she would pick someone else sometimes. Even if Katy and Marianne are naughty I never write their names on the blackboard. I only pretend. I go round the back and I scrape the chalk over the blackboard so it sounds like I’m writing, but I’m not really. When Miss Speer comes back she always asks me who was naughty and why there are no names on the blackboard. I say that nobody was naughty and that everybody read their books and practised writing.
I can tell she doesn’t believe me.
Miss Speer says it’s all right for me to be sent away and breathe the sea air; I think it must be very special air, Mum says it will stop me coughing. Mum says I’m lucky, other children don’t get to go. Perhaps if I tried very hard to stop coughing they won’t send me away.