During my first two years at school, I was ‘a selective mute’. I didn’t say a word to my teachers, although I spoke to some of the girls in the playground, when no adult was around.
The only time an utterance left my lips was at roll-call time, when we had to reply to the announcing of our name. As each girl’s name was called, she had to say, “present”. It was all done in a hurried & efficient manner, and I misunderstood the word I heard the others say. My teacher made it quite clear that, when my name was called, I was not permitted to stay silent. And so, on hearing “Dianna”, I would mutter between unmoving lips, the word “pressed”.
Often I would be in fear and trembling, glancing at my not very well-pressed school tunic. What
did they do, I wondered, to girls who answered “pressed” and they weren’t? But I was left wondering.