The Beginning and the End

"But I'm happy with the friends that I've got," moaned Judy Preston, and her mother left the room, satisfied that at last her daughter would get out of bed.

Judy ducked down under the blankets. Just another few minutes, she thought. I'm happy with the friends I've got, happy with the friends... happy with... happy... The blankets were warm and Judy fell asleep and dreamed.

She saw her new school, an enormous brick building with a green tower, and an infinity of corridors and classrooms, and giants towering above her. She saw a girl with long hair, a deep scowl, and a boy with a mischievous grin and overlong black hair. There was a hamster in a cage, and she found herself running down streets like the hamster in its wheel, endlessly running, but from what or whom she didn't know. Faces loomed above her: a round sneering face of a much older girl who had in her handhow got her most precious possession: granddad's pen. Then that image faded, and she found herself to be getting taller, and older. She was still at Grange Hill, but now felt an outsider, as though she was in some kind of a glass box: she could see out, but no-one could see her.

And there were new faces, a fat boy with glasses in abject misery, anothe boy pulling his hair back; an athletic girl with blonder hair than herself. There was a teacher in a blue tracksuit and a large black bushy beard who held a large stopwatch in his hand.

And the new faces themselves became older, and she realised that now she was too old to even be at school, but remained there nonetheless as a sea of different faces swam into view: a frizzy haired girl with a mysterious cardboard box with air-holes in it, a boy with a surprised face who was making toast with a donkey behind him. She could see and hear a lad with a Liverpool accent climbing the school wall: don't fall, she found herself shouting. And yet more school kids appeared, and the school itself seemed a different place.

There was a girl who was heavily pregnant, and a set of twins shouting at each other while their other sister covered her ears. Then the dream had abruptly turned into a nightmare. First there was a boy slumped on the grounds of a shopping centre with staring eyes. Then another lifeless boy who fell out when a car door opened. Then there was the girl shot in the arm - Judy heard her scream out in pain. And a motorcycle that launched its rider onto the bonnet of a car. Then another pretty girl stood on the edge of a window, behind her flames shooting up - the girl cried out, and mercifully the scene changed again.

Now Judy found herself much, much older - gosh, she thought, I'm older even than Mummy - but still she was at the school, and there was a girl with lustrous, thick dark hair with an ankle tattoo. And now, there she was again out in a maze of corn, running in terror and into the arms of a boy. They seem to go well together, she thought. And now she was at a football pitch, and there was a lad lying on the grass, not moving. "Get up, get up!" Judy willed, but the boy didn't move. "Oh please get up. Get up, Get up...."

"Will you get up, Judy!" exclaimed Mrs Preston loudly from her bedside. "You'll be so late on your first day." Judy sat up suddenly in bed, perspiration on her brow, and the details of her nightmares disintegrated. Judy smiled. "Don't worry, I'm up," she said.

The End (c) 2008 Geffers and the BBC