Everything’s bright, exciting, fun!
There’s a short path between playgrounds. I run into the girls’ one. Some shriek, knowing what’s going to happen.
She doesn’t; she’s got her back to me, waiting, pretending not to know.
I grab her in a tight hug. She squirms right round, ready.
I kiss her lips. She screams.
I run away, laughing. She chases me – I always get grabbed and kissed. I chase her back again. Half the other children watch or run too, joining in the fun, catching the one who’s running so the other can get them.
The teacher lets us sit together because we won’t make noise or trouble. If we do he’ll split us up again. So we do the best work like we promised. She helps me remember numbers and letters. I can get a b the right way round now because it’s the beginning of her name. I help her copy my drawings and make up stories for her and cut things out to colour. She listens to the teacher and tells me what I’m supposed to do.
There’s only a curtain between the girls’ and boys’ parts of the shower. We always pull it back after country dancing because no one stops us. All of us giggle and shout. A boy says bare feet are rude.
She dares me to go all the way to the girls’ toilet area. That’s very naughty and I’m scared but really do it and I don’t get into trouble.
She has the bluest eyes, the whitest hair and the happiest laugh of everyone ever.
I come back from summer holiday with all the shells I’ve collected for us – and real fossilised sharks’ teeth that I found myself.
She’s not in her house. No one is. The door’s locked and even the carpets and chairs and things have gone.
I don’t understand. I’m confused and she never comes back.
I sit next to this boy now. He only talks about how his dad has a car and stuff like they may even get a telephone – the second one in the street. I draw a car and he gets angry because it’s better than the one he drew. I write b on it because that’s the beginning of her name. I hope she has a nice car like this when she grows up.
The voices are all noise; the teacher goes on and on or shouts at me. He’s so big and loud and stands so close. The blackboard is all boring chalk lines. The walls and ceiling steal my space. The room is empty. There’s nothing but talking and smells, shouting and lines of chalk. They press and squeeze. The playground is all ice and puddles and everything’s grey. The wet and cold get through my clothes.
In a minute I’ll be told off for slouching, sitting on my hands and watching my feet swinging up and down, up and down.
And the headmaster will ask why I was sent to his office … again.
And I’ll cry because I can’t remember … again.
He’ll tell me boys don’t cry … again.
Mum says that too and took me to see our doctor in the autumn because I cry too much.
The world is horrible and I don’t know why.
©Gary Bonn, 2020