The girl who said NO

Her name was Patricia.
She was in my class at junior school and one day she said NO
to the free school milk in the glass bottle that stood all morning in its crate in the hot summer sun.
NO she said to the teacher.
NO she said to the headmaster.
Oh Oh Oh
She ran from the line-up,
out of the playground,
out of the gate.

It was the day I heard the venetian blinds rattle in the classroom.
Watching each slat cutting the day into long thin slices.
Blinking at patterns of dark and light.
Thinking this moment might go on and on
and on and never end and I was trapped
not like Patricia and her NO.

But I didn’t say no.
Not to warm milk,
or to boys with hands that were wet to my touch,
or to the man on a train who sat too close,
or to the man in the car smelling of tweed.

Moya Pacey


Moya is one of the founding editors of Not Very Quiet.