We spin in ra-ra skirt delight. Giddy, giggling, gravity-pulled, tumbling. The lacy clouds pirouette above. Our fingers touching as the earth rocks beneath us.
You highlight each memory of my childhood, litter the pages of the diary I never wrote.
Our clumsily fashioned candle-wax figures, souvenirs of power cut adventures, still perch upon my shelf, tangled amidst silver jubilee ribbons and old Mrs Pepperpot books we used to share.
We moped together when the ladybirds claimed our school field.
Belted out Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ ’til March, when your mum blew her gasket.
You stood in the corner after pushing David Hammond for calling me a runt, me standing with you in solidarity like the striking miners.
Laughing at my bookmark, tragically cross-stitched to my skirt.
Weeping at Kes.
Skirts tucked in knickers, toes dipped cautiously. Your swallowed cry, a splash. On the bridge on my belly, reaching, you grasping blindly, clinging, me holding tight. Finally you make the bank. Laughing, crying, crowing. Best friends forever.
A large brown envelope drops on my doormat. Racing to your door, waving it like a flag. You answer, a small tear smudged white envelope in your hand. My smile falls off, the door slams.
On Monday you sat by Suzanne Waters, who you always said smelled of prawn cocktail crisps and talked too much.
All summer you were out when I called.
September. Two girls pass. One uniformed in red, one blue.
That first week I said hi every day. I wanted to tell you I liked your new haircut, about the boy on the bus. You walk by, head down. On Friday, you stop.
“I thought you were meant to be the clever one,” you sniped. “Don’t you know Grammar and Secondary Modern don’t mix?”
Two strangers pass.