So here I am back in the world of creative writing, returned to evening classes and each week I'm set homework!
Sarah had never received a gold star. Each lesson she would eagerly wait for her exercise book to be handed back to her and would quickly flick to the last piece of work she had completed, hoping upon hope that a glint of gold would greet her, but it was not to be.
Sarah would then stare at Miss Fitzwilliam and try to be angry with her but she couldn't, Miss Fitzwilliam was beautiful. She was the exact woman that Sarah wanted to be when she was grown up. Today Miss Fitzwilliam was wearing a black pleated skirt, a scarlet blouse and a large bead necklace that was looped twice but arranged perfectly. Her nails were painted the exact same red as her blouse. Miss Fitzwilliam's blonde hair bounced with huge curls when she walked up and down the classroom, someone once said that she must sleep with her hair in rollers but Sarah didn't believe that. She imagined Miss Fitzwilliam waking up looking the exact image that stood before her now.
Sarah tried so hard to achieve a gold star but the best she had only ever received were the words 'Much better', 'Good' and just the once, 'Well done'. Miss Fitzwilliam used an ink pen, the ink was not quite blue or black, sort of in-between. Her letters joined together flawlessly, every 'i' had a dot exactly above it and every ‘y’ and ‘g’ had a perfect tail. Sarah practiced to make her letters look the same and had even asked her parents for an ink pen but her letters still looked stubby and scruffy. Deep in thought about her inadequate handwriting she did not notice that Miss Fitzwilliam was selecting someone to clean the blackboard until she was standing right before her, blackboard rubber in hand. She stretched out to hand it to Sarah who clasped the blackboard rubber as if Miss Fitzwilliam had handed her a gold bar. She actually felt a little sad at rubbing away Miss Fitzwilliam's beautiful handwriting from the board. It was only when she placed the rubber back on the desk that she noticed it, a stray gold star. It had fallen from the little packet that sat inside Miss Fitzwilliam's pencil case. Sarah hesitated for just one moment and picked it up, cupping it in her palm before anyone could see. Sitting back at her desk she felt hot but excited. A gold star, she could stick it in her book, perhaps next to the comment of 'Well done', she would show her parents, they would be so proud.
And they were. They smiled and commented that Sarah must take after them both, such a bright girl, so pleased that she was trying so hard. Sarah tried to smile with them but she couldn't. Instead she felt incredibly sad, more sad than she had ever been. It wasn't a real gold star, it was a pretend one. She hadn't earned it, Miss Fitzwilliam hadn’t given it to her. It began to look faded and tarnished. Before school the next day in the privacy of the girls’ toilet she began to unpeel it from her exercise book. Even picking at the edges carefully it was ripping the page, Sarah wanted to cry - was this because she had stolen it and done such a bad thing.
In the classroom she sat with her head down, she didn't notice Miss Fitzwilliam outfit for the day, she barely looked at the blackboard and when it was time to hand in her exercise book her heart felt like a lead weight. At break time she didn't join in with the skipping and at lunchtime she pushed her liver and bacon around the plate until the dinner monitor spoke sharply to her.
Back in the classroom that afternoon, Rebecca Wainwright was asked to clean the blackboard whilst Miss Fitzwilliam handed out the marked exercise books. Sarah decided she would not rush to flick through hers, she knew her spellings had not been good and that her attempt at poetry was only four lines about a cat. She was therefore so surprised when Miss Fitzwilliam bent down over her desk, opened her book for her and there, under the four line cat poem was a gold star. Sarah gasped, she looked up at Miss Fitzwilliam, back to her book, not quite believing her eyes but it was true, a gold star shining out, just for her. Written in beautiful handwriting next to it were the words 'Sometimes stars take longer to fall'. One day Sarah would understand what that really meant but right now, she couldn’t wait to run home and show her parents.