The School Run

‘Hurry up, Susie! We’re running late,’ Marion shouted out to her five-year old daughter, grabbing the car keys and sliding them into her jacket pocket. She quickly checked her five foot two, slim frame in the full-length mirror to make sure she had not tucked her skirt into her knickers after her dash to the toilet after the dodgy curry eaten the previous night. Mother and daughter trudged stoically through the deep snow to the car sleeping in the garage, with Susie gabbling excitedly about how she would be reading out her poem in school assembly that morning. Marion melted with maternal pride as she listened to her golden-haired child, her heart the warmest thing on that sub-zero, January day.
The narrow country lane was a lethal ice rink, the gritting lorries having only bothered to free up the main roads.
‘Bloody council,’ Marion thought. Luckily the village primary school was only a mile away but it took much longer than usual to crawl up to the school gates, meaning they were running late.
‘Jump out here on the pavement, darling. There’s no time to wait for me to park and come into the playground with you as normal. We don’t want you to miss reading out your poem in assembly, do we?’ Marion said in the sing-song voice that most mothers address their youngsters.
‘Okay, mummy,’ Susie replied, scrabbling out of the car and onto the pavement. With only a cheery wave, as there was no time for their usual goodbye kiss, Marion drove on up the lane, trying not to slide into any of the parked cars or oncoming traffic. As usual, she drove into the village hall’s small car park, performed a cautious, three-point turn and drove back up the lane with the intention of returning home to start another busy day as an illustrator.
Heading back up the lane towards the school, a horrific scream tore the air. Marion realised it was coming from her own mouth. On the icy road before her lay her daughter, also screaming, one leg trapped under the front wheel of a Nissan Micra belonging to Pauline, one of Marion’s friends. Witnessed by several shocked mothers and their wide-eyed offspring, Pauline’s car, travelling too fast, had slid off the icy road and trapped Susie’s leg. The child had been waiting on the pavement for her best friend to arrive on the school bus.
One of the distraught women was phoning the emergency services as Pauline knelt down on the slushy tarmac, stroking the blonde hair of the screaming child she had knocked down.
‘Out of the way, Pauline!’ bellowed Marion, roughly pulling her friend’s arm. With her face a picture of grim determination, Marion squatted like a heavyweight lifter, grabbed the bumper of Pauline’s car and, bellowing like a demented bull, heaved upwards with every fibre of her being. A superhuman, inexplicable power surged through each atom of Marion’s body. Miraculously, she lifted the car just enough to release the child’s damaged leg.
‘Pull her out! For Christ’s sake, Pauline, pull her out!’ Marion shouted at the traumatised woman, who looked in shock, flooded with guilt at her careless driving.
Pauline snapped back into action, dragging the injured girl to safety, just before the car’s front tyres came crashing down onto the icy tarmac. The mournful wail of an ambulance’s siren grew louder, echoing the child’s wailing as her mother tried to comfort her.
Three months later, as hawthorn blossoms blew in the spring air, Marion was driving an almost recovered Susie up the lane towards school, excited to at last be able to read out her poem, entitled ‘Why I love my mummy,’ in that morning’s school assembly.

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