I sank my bum on the chair closest to Miss Johnson’s door; Ellen Parker sank hers on the one next to it. I had to slide right to the edge so our legs weren’t touching.
The digital clock on the wall clicked with each minute that flapped over. Two forty-six… two forty seven…
Mum’ll be here at three. She told them I’ve got the dentist but really we’re going to the pictures. I’ve got to meet her outside; she’s so embarrassing… she still calls me what she did when I was little…in public. Two forty…
At last. Johnston opened the door, “Ellen… Leanne…” Ellen followed me in and the head sat in her big black swivelly chair behind the desk. We had to stand up.
“Perhaps you can tell me about this?” She opened the desk drawer and took out a little kid’s purse with a couple of pink mice on the front and a small plastic bag. The stuff inside the bag looked like the dried up leaves and flowers my mum puts in bowls around the flat; she says it’s to take away the smell of the dog – doesn’t work.
I stared at the purse, my face felt red-hot, “It’s not mine, miss.”
“And neither’s the cannabis that was inside?” She pointed at the bag.
Miss Johnson took off her glasses and tilted her head to one side “How do you think it came to be in your locker, Leanne?”
“She put it in there, miss.” I pointed at Ellen with my elbow. I didn’t want to look at her.
Miss Johnson’s eyes turned to slits. She leaned over the desk like she was trying to see inside me. A little drop of sweat trickled down my forehead and it was ages before she tried the same tricks on Ellen.
“So Ellen, what have you got to say?”
“Nothing to do with me.”
“But your locker is next to Leanne’s…”
Miss Johnson sat back in her chair and gave Ellen the look that warned her about her attitude.
“I mean, I don’t see that’s got anything to do with it, miss.”
“I’ll decide if anything has to do with anything. Leanne said you placed the purse in her locker and that she saw you with it earlier in the day. Leanne, why didn’t you tell me about the purse as soon as you saw it?”
Sometimes teachers can be so dumb, “I didn’t know what was inside then.”
Miss Johnson swivelled a little way on her chair then she picked up the purse and clicked the catch open. “I’m sure at least one of you knows the name inside,” she switched on the desk lamp and shone it inside, “I can see it begins with an f…” She waited for one of us to blurt it out, “F… that’s it ‘Fearne’!”
We both knew it said ‘Fanny’. It’s a stupid name and I hate it. Johnson read the name out her herself when she went through my locker.
Someone stitched me up, someone told her about it and that someone was Ellen Parker.
There was a tap on the door. Before Miss Johnson had a chance to say ‘come in’ Mum was there. Her skirt was nearly up to her knickers, she had that little furry jacket on and four inch heels.
“Hiya everyone! I’ve come to fetch Leanne for the dentist.” Mum winked at me, she’s rubbish at winking, too much mascara. “I’ll hang on till you’ve finished your little meeting but you don’t have a light do you?” She waved a new cigarette between her first two nail-arted fingers. “Desperate for a fag… “
Johnson looked like someone had shoved dog poo up her nose. “We don’t allow smoking anywhere in the school grounds Mrs…”
“ Yes…Miss er… We’ll only be a few more minutes; please take a seat outside.” Miss Johnson got up and closed the door in Mum’s face.
I imagined her on the other side with a squashed nose. I heard her platforms stamp on the floor and felt sick. She wasn’t gong to wait out there forever. I had to hurry this up, “It’s not mine!” I said, “I don’t know anything about it. Ellen put it in my locker ‘cause she hates my guts!”
I stared at a stain shaped like a banana on the corner of the desk.
“So, Leanne, if it was, to use the vernacular, ‘a plant’ and it was Ellen who planted it, do you have any idea how she did it?”
“Yeah. When we were putting our PE things away. Her mates started nicking my stuff. They chucked my bag down the corridor and when I was getting it, Ellen hid the purse in my trainers.”
“I’d never touch her trainers, they stink!”
“Thank you Ellen…Hah!” Johnson was being the great detective. She wagged her finger, “How do you know they ‘stink’?”
“Everyone does, every time she takes them off in the changing rooms!”
Miss Johnson was looking for something in her drawer again. Ellen pushed her tongue behind her bottom lip and gave me the finger just as Johnson was looking up. Ellen pretended she wasn’t doing anything but it was too late and she can’t act to save her life. The head looked like thunder.
“Ellen Parker, you are excluded for five days. The police will be informed. Leanne you may go.”
Ha! If she was a real detective she would have said ‘You’re nicked Ellen Parker.’
The office door opened again. “Look, we’re gonna be late… is this anything I should know about? Babe?”
“S’nothing, Mum. They made a mistake, let’s go…” I tried to push her out the door.
“That’s good sweetheart,” She grabbed my cheek and used her ‘you’re still my baby’ voice, “can’t have my little Fanny Anney getting into trouble again can we…?