This was just a fun little piece where the stimulus was to imagine or remember being at age four, sitting on the floor somewhere. All I could really think of specifically was this one distinct moment where I got a timeout at daycare. I don’t remember what it was for but I was certain that I’d just been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and hadn’t actually had a part in the shenanigans. I managed to make up for it, however, so that there was reason for me being there by the end of it…
(Character name changed so I don’t get sued.)
She’s sitting amidst three other children on the floor to the right of the chair where the ‘carer’ sits. Without much care to ever offer, this carer is more of a warden; all big and staunch and frizzy curled and smug – Sandra.
She was never liked and now she is liked even less after this injustice. The girl on the floor was framed, I tell you! She had no part in this crime and yet she is persecuted along with the real culprits.
Doesn’t she get a trial? With an advocate and convincing evidence? A timely verdict, delivered after much deliberation by unbiased representatives of the Delacombe ABC Childcare Centre which is ruled as truth under the eyes of the law? Surely then, she would not be facing this incredulous sentencing. Does her history count for nothing? She has been an entirely upstanding citizen of this centre. No priors, nothing.
And yet here she is; the faded azure linoleum cold and hard, sending chills up her spine and prickling her legs with goosebumps. The legs of the chair frame her view like the bars of a jail cell. They frame the lonely and disparaged Rosie – the girl’s greatest companion. There is a look of abandonment in her beady black eyes as she sits, half slumped to one side. Her brown fur is matting from the love she would usually receive and she seems out of place with everyone else’s imprisoned plush friends – she doesn’t know these toys.
Sandra rises out of the red-turning-pink plastic of the chair. It’s a peculiar thing for a warden to do; abandon her post. Then the thought ticks over: it’s just so tempting to reach out and grab them. This girl could be a hero, save the day, save her comrades, save their stuffed counterparts! She reaches a cautious hand out and scoops the miserable lot up from under the chair. The quartet of troublemakers reunite with their dear ones and rejoice– there’s just one small issue: Sandra is now storming back, disgruntled, nostrils flared. There is no stage two; little Kaela didn’t think that far ahead and before she can concoct a new strategy the jig is well and truly up. The toys are snatched back with a whirl of indignant fury and some whole extra ten minutes are stacked onto their sentences.
Sandra sits back on the seat, glaring down with a look of brutish disdain. She likes her authority. Her wide figure spills over the sides of the seat. The cold fluorescents cast down bleak, uninspiring light, as if they too hope to crush a child’s spirit. So this is what it’s like to do time.