He looks around the room, twisting a finger between his neck and the collar of his shirt, pulling it away from him and taking a deep breath in. He feels them all looking at him, their tiny eyes stabbing at him like sharp, hot pokers, he forces a smile, as sweat runs down his brow, while the room slowly seems to close in on him. He grips his hands tightly into fists and hisses, when a woman’s voice breaks the silence, pulling him out of the darkness and back to reality. “Mister Bannister, are you okay?”
He turns to her and swallows a mouthful of dry air, it cuts down his throat like razor blades, he opens his mouth and tries to answer her, but only a high pitched squeak escapes his lips. He swallows again, and clears his throat as he feels a cold hand rest upon his and looks up into the woman’s brown eyes, she smiles.
“It’s okay, you’re not the first to be like this, it’s the nerves, you don’t realise how bad they are until you’re in the actual situation. God knows, I know how you feel, I’ve been in your shoes. Actually, that’s how I got into it all, I just couldn’t bear the anxiety, so I took a few online courses and next thing you know I’m here, actually doing it, like a professional.”
“O-O-Online course? Y-Y-Y-You did a-a-all your training online?” He says, panic in his voice. He opens his tightly clenched hands and wipes the sweat from them onto his trousers, his eyes dart around the room, then she laughs and he looks back towards her.
“Of course NOT!” She says with a giggle, he let’s out a sigh of relief and collapses back in his chair, she touches his hand once again and smiles reassuringly. “Feel better?” She asks.
He sits there staring at her for a few moments before he smiles softly, relaxing for the first time since he walked into the room. “Actually, I am,” he says, a look of surprise on his face.
Her smile broadens, “Like I said, you’re not the first parent I’ve had to talk down on the first day, and you certainly won’t be the last,” she says looking over at the children as they play. “It’s a hard thing, putting your child into care. You feel like you’re not doing your job, you feel like you’re failing as a parent, that you should be the one looking after your child and not some stranger. But, you know what?” She says turning back to him, with a wry smile on her face. “Everyone needs someone else to blame for their child’s shortcomings.”
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