It was the week of my thirteenth birthday, towards the end of my second term at Lowood when I heard the inauspicious words for the first time.
"Can Amelia Brown please report to the headmaster's office." I sat at my desk startled as the whole class turned their perfect heads of neatly plaited hair towards me. All I saw was a handful of glaring eyes and disgusted expressions as the teacher not thinking of the humiliation I was going through informed the class I would be missing certain lessons to go to remedial classes. I nervously hurried from the back of the classroom to the door keeping my stinging eyes focused straight in front of me apart from the when I felt a cold, trembling hand gently touching my arm. I quickly glanced down to see a slightly nervous but appreciated smile from a girl hiding behind her enormous glasses. The courage of the unfortunate girl inspired me and by the time I reached the arched doorway I felt less isolated mentally.
But the stiffness of the door handle meant that I struggled to open the beautifully carved, arch shaped door making me once again, embarrassed to be who I was, helpless, thick Amelia Brown.
Once I had left the classroom I shamefully proceeded down the long, gloomy corridor, walking past various portraits and photos of past headmasters and scholars. Their stern expressions encouraged me to walk faster. It was a lovely day but the small windows close to the high ceiling only attempted to let in the sunshine, they didn't succeed.
Hesitantly I knocked on the door and I heard a stern voice telling me to come in. I'd only been in the headmaster's office once before and it was exactly how I remembered it to be, draughty, dark with an ornate ceiling and grand antique furniture. It smelt musty and I caught occasional wafts of old text books and the scent of shoe polish lingered. Clouds of chalk dust hung in clouds around the blackboard creating a heavy mist.
The headmaster was sat behind a long, mahogany table. He wore a black gown and on top of his long head perched a cap. Before I had time to observe anything else he commanded me to sit down. I had never been so uneasy he didn't once loose eye contact with me and the sharp tone of his voice ran through me like a blade as he told me what a disappointment to the school I was. I felt so incapable, such a failure when he told me I scored the lowest marks in the class for all of the end of term tests. I was the least academic in my class at this school but the standard was extremely high. At the last school there were many people weaker than me. I tried to remember this but the thought that I was hopeless was a lot stronger and I felt tears prick my eyes but I held them back as I thought of the courage of that particular girl in my class. The verbal abuse kept coming but I didn't cry I just sank deeper and deeper into the chair, thinking of the brilliant memories of my last school, pretending to listen.
Suddenly this all disappeared, I was wrenched to my feet by tie until I was standing uncomfortably close. Stunned, he touched my arm, sarcastically telling me that he was sorry he lost his temper. . I felt sick, when he ordered me to take off my blazer just leaving the thin white cotton blouse. Then alarmed he lifted my heavy wool skirt and I felt him stroke his sweaty palm on my cold thigh. He didn't stop when I pulled away he just stroked my trembling cheek and carried on saying
"If we do it my way, you'll get far better results............okay!"
"Yes sir," I replied, the last thing I wanted to do was make him angry in this situation. There was power in his voice when he smugly ordered me to return to lesson. I straightened out my clothes and left the office like nothing had happened.
The next few days were not too bad considering what I had gone through. I had made a new friend which was something and she helped me to regain confidence. Although when I tried to tell her about what had happened I didn't get the response I was hoping for. I think she thought I was making it up, just trying to get attention. Maybe she just didn't want to believe it! This made me feel alone once again, I was sure it was my fault and I didn't get any sleep for the next two weeks, instead the painful nights were spent worrying endlessly about him doing it again, having that control over me again. I was extremely frustrated that the girl didn't believe me. If she had believed me maybe I would have had the confidence to tell someone else, to stop it happening again.
It did happen again! Many more times in fact for the next three years. It started as remedial lessons then when my grades were good he didn't have a reason, somebody must have known that something was going on. I felt weaker and more trapped as the years went on and the abuse got worse. When I left Lowood the worrying didn't stop and I didn't feel I could trust anyone. The girl that I had met that day in class
Now when I look back I wish I'd told someone. My sister, my mum, an auntie, maybe they could have helped. My family are all so supportive now