Strangely, Mondays weren’t as bad as you might suppose.  It was Tuesdays that were the worst.  Somehow, she could coast through Monday on the strength gained from the weekend, but by Tuesday the weekend effect had worn off and the next weekend seemed far too far away to be of any comfort.  She would stumble from boring lesson to boring lesson, trapped indoors gazing longingly outside through windows that let in baking heat in summer and chill in winter, sitting idly colouring a small square for every minute spent there so that she could at least see some progress through the day, burying herself in a book during the interminable lunch break so she didn’t have to feel the pain of silence amongst the chatter.

Wednesdays – well, Wednesdays brought the same monotony, but were at least that much further through the week, and by Thursday the light was faintly visible glimmering at the end of the tunnel, as she at last felt able to consider the pleasures that lay ahead almost within reach.

Friday dragged far more than was justified, and she would drag out all the coping mechanisms she could find, until the bell went for the end of the last lesson and she was caught up in the crowds hurrying towards the buses that would this time take them home for longer than  just a few hours.

She would fall into bed on the Friday evening, feeling the relief of the weekend flood over her with the welcome of a gasp of air to one who was drowning, and early on Saturday morning she would awake eagerly, put on her old clothes and wheel out her bike, heading for the stables.  Here she would spend the whole weekend caring for the horses, helping excited young children onto ponies for their weekly riding lesson and teaching the new volunteers who were willing, as she was, to trade several hours’ labour for a couple of hours’ riding.  Here she would finally be able to relax and feel comfortable with her surroundings, spending most of her time outside or sitting chatting in the tackroom with the others, the only people in the world she felt were her friends.

By Sunday lunchtime, however, the cloud descended again, and by mid-afternoon she could already feel the weight of the next week lined up oppressively in the shadows waiting to dominate her life.  The rest of Sunday evening was spent in sullen silence, as she did her chores and made ready for another week’s pain.

She told herself, as she always did, that one day it would end; that one day she would be free to choose how she spent her days, and would no longer be trapped somewhere she hated, doing work that seemed pointless, and buried so deep in work that there was no time for pleasure, but at the same time she felt, deep inside, that it was a lie, and that she was doomed forever to be trapped in this tedious existence, where even the fleeting pleasures were spoilt by the knowledge that they would soon be over.

Little did she know that very soon the time was coming when she would long for this existence, when it would seem idyllic compared with what was to come her way.


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