Not crossing the line

She is in grade three. The school has stone floors, cold and grey. On the third floor where her classroom is, there is an open hall in the centre with girls’ and boys’ toilets being opposite each other. They have breaks between lessons, 15 minutes each. Boys and girls develop a game that no teacher seems to mind. It is boys against girls. Boys run after girls and try to catch one. It is never the other way around – girls running after boys – never like that. Once a girl is caught, the boys try to pull her into their toilet. It is one girl at a time, and the boys are many, or maybe not. Some kids don’t want to play this game. Maybe it is only the “coolest” ones who do, and she wants to be one of them, and wants attention. It is exciting, scary, a bit risky: what would a teacher think if she would realize that it is not a simple catch game; it is about a girl being pulled into the boys’ toilet. Would she think badly of this girl? It does not seem to matter because she still wants to play and she doesn’t mind being caught by the boys. Does she only pretend to be scared of being caught? Maybe she wants that more and more. It is about attention, touch of a hand, a bit of force – a sweet feeling of being touched by a boy, maybe even the one she is a bit fond of at the moment. Just a passing touch. She is caught. There are exciting screams, she is trying to fight back. She is on the floor, trying to pull herself in the opposite direction, away from the toilet line. This is so hard to do while wearing the uniform – a woolen dress and an apron, stockings, shoes. All these clothes. And while fighting back, she has to be careful. The dress lifts up, but she has to use one hand to hold the edge of the skirt down, not to let anyone see under her skirt. That would make everything much worse – being pulled to the toilet and not being careful with your movements, not holding your skirt down. That would not do; that would mean to cross the line of the appropriate. If she plays this game, she can’t go that far. It can only be one thing, not crossing the toilet line and letting your skirt lift, only the former. She screams. The threshold of the toilet is so close. She fights back; she doesn’t want to get there. Who knows what will happen there and what others may think. As long as she is in the hall, others are witnesses to her decency – she is not crossing the border, she is not doing anything morally forbidden. Nothing that others may gossip about later. She should not cross that border, she should not disappear into the toilet where other girls will not see her. Not her alone with the other boys. The fifteen minutes are over. The loud bell rings, everyone tidies themselves up, slows down, walks into the classroom. It is fine now. She had the excitement, she got the touch, and she didn’t cross that line. She straightens her dress.