by BIANCA WORDLEY
I remember the day clearly. My best friend called me. He was running late again. He was always running late for school and this time I wasn’t going to wait for him. I told him so.
Fine, he said. Fine, I said.
We were in primary school, we lived around the corner from each other and most days we walked to school together.
It was fun walking together. We’d either be fighting or laughing, mostly fighting. There were no adults, just us dawdling. Along the way other kids would emerge from their houses, some walking, some on their bikes. We’d giggle, we’d chase each other. It was a different time then, helicopter parents didn’t exist.
In autumn, we’d kick the piles of leaves on the footpaths. Often it would end in a leaf fight and we’d be covered in pollen and dust, bits of leaves hanging from our hair. In Spring, we’d look for nests and if you found one with egg shells stuck in the twigs it was considered a truly cool find. It would be taken to school and shown to your teachers and classmates. In summer, we’d pick plums and peaches, the ripe fruit hanging over neighbourhood fences. The juice from the fruit would run down our chin and down our arms. In winter, we’d cradle under our umbrellas and if we were lucky we’d get a lift to school.
I remember the day clearly. On this day I walked to school alone, my Aussie cricket player swap cards safely tucked in my school bag. It was very hot. I trundled along, grumpy that my mate had left me waiting at home only to call me at the last minute to tell me he was running late again. Stuff him, I’d thought. I’d tell him so when he got to school.
It was the days of kids running free. Often my friends and I would ride our bikes around the neighbourhood, we’d meet out the front of our houses and head off on adventures; sometimes the local pool, sometimes the local ice skating rink. On weekends and school holidays we’d take off in the morning and not return until dinner. Often we’d take turns having dinner at each other’s houses. We had such fun.
My mate and I had heaps of fun. We’d play hide and seek and collect caterpillars for races. We were just starting to notice our gender differences. We were getting to an age when I wanted to play dollhouses and doctors and nurses. He wanted to do maths sums and build stuff with leggo. He had glasses and cherubic looks. I had long blonde hair. We were cute.