I held my breath. I was trying not to think. My stomach held all my fear, making my legs melt like jelly babies. My mouth was dry. If I held my breath long enough I would stop breathing altogether and die. Then my heart would stop too.
But it just beat louder and louder, faster and faster, as the time drew nearer.
The journey on the bus was all wrong. The wrong thing to do - being on the bus at that time of day - the ticket limp in my damp fingers. Old ladies go on the bus at half past ten on a Wednesday morning. I should have been at school - in the safety of the classroom - not here on the bus but there was no going back now. We had arrived.
I got off, my legs dragging me reluctantly up the hill and past the library. I thought if only I could go in there and hide - hide inside the day-dream world of books and stories. But I couldn't. There was my Mum waiting for me, just outside the gate. She grabbed my hand impatiently.
'Where have you been?'
'Nowhere. I just came straight here.'
She spat into her handkerchief and rubbed at my cheeks.
'Look at you. How did you get so dirty? You been crying? Don't know what you've got to cry about.'
I wriggled under her ferocious scrubbing, trying not to let the lump in my throat leak out into my eyes. By the time she'd finished with me we really were late. I was cold from standing outside in my thin winter coat, frozen on the inside as well as out, my nose dripping. She dragged me inside.
The smell is the first thing you notice in a dentist. The sweet smell of disinfectant that's never quite the same as any you've smelt before or since. As soon as it hits you, the fear rises - taking control. I knew straight away that I just had to go to the toilet but we were already late and I was scared to ask.
We still had to sit in the waiting room which was filled with other children and their mothers. I knew my Mum was angry. She didn't like it if I cried so I just kept biting the inside of my lip to stop myself. I don't know which was the worst bit - wanting to go to the toilet, not being able to ask, or the terror of what was to come in the room at the end of the corridor, the sounds of drilling tormenting my ears. As each child came out of the door, my heart seemed to stop as I waited for my name to be called. Then when it was someone else's turn to go in, relief washed over me like a warm wave of sunlight, until I realised that I was one step nearer to my turn, there was no escape, and the black cloud returned to block out the sun.
I jumped out of my skin when my name was finally called. I dropped the well-worn copy of the Beano that I was pretending to read. I could feel my insides shaking and wanted to be sick but Mum had grasped my by the wrist and I found myself being hauled along the corridor towards the waiting nurse and into the room beyond.
They never got me into the chair. Once through the door I took one look at all the gleaming instruments of torture and knew that I would never get into that chair despite the fear of my Mother's wrath. I just could not do it. I stood - defiant - rooted to the linoleum flooring refusing to go any closer.
'Come along then, let's have you in the chair,' the dentist smiled at me unconvincingly.
'Get in the chair!' hissed Mum, her voice hard and desperate.
I ran. Across the room to the far corner I ran. The nurse tried to grab me but I was too fast for her. Mum stood by the door, a look of horror on her face. The dentist waited by the chair. He'd been here before no doubt and believed that it would only be a matter of time before he had me as his victim in the torture seat. But I would never give in now. I ran around the chair, the nurse chasing me until the dentist finally snapped.
'That's enough!' he shouted. 'Get her out of here. I will not have this behaviour in here - and don't bother coming back!'
Such a feeling of relief washed over me as we left the room. A feeling which stayed with me long after Mum had finished dragging me down the street, the words of her anger bouncing around in my head.
The bus ride back to school felt somehow - alright.