This would have been written in about 1971-2, when I was fourteen.
Again, this is exactly as it was originally written. Now, of course, I can see the nonsense of having the girl taken out of school for a funeral. For a rush to hospital maybe, but for a planned event like a funeral, they would just have delayed her enrollment by a day. Sigh.
Through the eyes of a child
“If all grown-ups are like them, I hope I stay just as I am!” she said to herself. “They just can’t make up their minds. ‘Go to school’ they say, so I go. And what happens when I get there? ‘Come home.’ They’re crazy!”
She looked around her at the huge faces of her relations, all dressed in black, with red eyes and wet handkerchiefs.
“Why doesn’t one of them say something?” she asked herself.
“Where is Uncle Henry?” she asked aloud suddenly.
The faces loomed down at her in obvious disapproval at her interruption of the solemn silence.
“What did I say that was so wrong?” She just couldn’t understand what was going on. Why were they all dressed like that? Why had they made her dress like that? Her brain was bursting with questions she dare not ask. Maybe this always happens on your first day at school. But the other children of her age had stayed when the woman in the funny hat and cloak had come in and taken her away.
At the mention of Uncle Henry, her mother had burst into tears again. Why should she cry because her brother’s name was mentioned? Her father put his arm around her mother and said something that she couldn’t understand. She looked up at her mother, not daring to speak again but wanting to know so many things. All she had been told so far was: “Not now, dear. You’ll understand one day, when you’re a bit older.”
What was it she was too young to understand? As time passed the questions mounted up until she couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
“Mummy, what’s in that big box, and where is Uncle Henry?” The tears rolled down her cheeks and she started to sob so loudly and so hard that she could hardly breathe.
Her grandfather stood up and addressed his son. “Don’t you think we ought to tell her, Adam. She probably won’t know what it means anyway. She’s only five after all…”
“Nearly six >sob< Grandpa,” she put in indignantly. No one could resist a smile despite their grief. She became wildly happy as she discovered she had broken the strained atmosphere.
“Do >sob< tell me, Daddy, I won’t understand if you don’t want me to.” She was eager to please now as laughter broke out at her words.
Her father knelt down and kissed her. How could he tell his only child that she would never see her favourite uncle again? It would be a difficult task, he knew, but it had to be done sometime.
Suddenly, she broke away, remembering something she had heard somewhere.
“He’s on a trip to Heaven, isn’t he, Daddy? And he won’t be coming back.”
B(+) Good, Helen. You capture the child’s mood and innocence well, and there is a sense of shape.
What grade would you have given me?