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You walked Fay to your new school off Tower Bridge Road one Saturday morn she in her blue cardigan and dress you in jeans and shirt and sleeveless jumper traffic racing by noisy exuding smoke and pollution it’s a long way Fay said do you walk it twice a day? no my mother gives me fare money but sometimes I buy doughnuts and walk I wouldn’t dare she said my daddy’d want to see the bus tickets as proof and if he knew
I’d bought doughnuts instead he’d spank me and make me walk thereafter they’re lovely doughnuts though you said you can have them warm coated in sugar and filled with jam and when they enter your stomach on a cold morning it’s heaven she fiddled with her fingers as she walked along as if knitting an invisible scarf I don’t think I’ve had one for ages she said we can buy one on the walk back if you like you said I haven’t any money
she said I have you said money for chores I did you added she smiled and walked on and when you got to your new school you showed her the entrance and the high walls and the top of the high depressing building she stood beside you and stared and said her school was run by nuns who were very strict her father insisted she went there because they were Catholics and he wanted her to have a good education and not mix with the riffraff
and that he wanted to know each day how she got on ( if he was home and not away on business) and you watched her as she spoke her fingers nervously moving her eyes scanning the school her lips opening and closing the toes of her black shoes touching as he stood her white ankle socks just so no marks or holes who chose this school for you? she asked turning towards you her eyes watery my mother said it was best being an all boys school keep me out of mischief
strict teachers the cane and all oh she said have you been caned? not so far you replied O’Brien bribed the prefect with cigarettes to get us off oh she said putting fingers to her lips don’t you feel guilty? about what? bribing the prefect and escaping punishment for wrongdoing no you said they were O’Brien’s cigarettes not mine she looked bewildered and deep in thought and you both walked back towards home
you thinking of the doughnuts to buy on the way she musing on what you’d said and other thoughts deeper inside her head.