All those years ago.

C.

When they ask me about those years, I always think of you.The quiet little mouse in the geography class. Thick brown hair and a wedge of a fringe. Dark hair covered your arms and legs, white virginal socks pulled up beneath the knee just skimming the royal blue skirt. I think of you. I think of you squashed into the corner by the wall, somehow hiding from view, I wonder how long you were there, and how many of us knew. I didn’t know your name, I didn’t have a clue, but then I rarely ever was there for Geography until that day. He warned you, at the end of the lesson, do you recall? He warned you that I was trouble, to stay away! He was right of course, although how would he have known? He actually wrote across my school report, ‘Who is Karen?’ so how would he even know that I was trouble. We were different, me and you. I had long curly hair right the way down to my bum, dyed black, I wore black eye shadow and black lipstick. My skirt was rolled over until it barely skimmed the cheeks of my bum I wore black tights and wedged shoes, or biker boots. We were different me and you. I sat over by the window, I can still remember the blue sky and the small white clouds that filled it. I don’t recall what it was that he said. Why we all turned to look. I don’t recall the reason why we were all looking over into that corner at you. You looked so bloody scared, so fucking frightened. I didn’t understand. I can’t pretend that I did. All I saw were the bandages and in a heartbeat I knew that something so terrible had happened and that such a thing to occur you must have been hurting in ways that even I could not understand. I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t understand. We were fourteen. Nothing bad happens to fourteen year olds, certainly not good girls like you, me, yeah, totally, but good pure, innocent girls like you, no. I didn’t understand, I didn’t need to understand, I didn’t think. I sometimes think that this is the moment when my soul first appeared. This is the moment when it screamed out to me that I was not all that I appeared to be. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me that pulled out that chair next to you and slammed myself into it. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me that turned toward the class and told every one to go fuck themselves. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me that sat with my back to you guarding you from sight. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me that turned to the teacher and called him a mother fucking cunt (it was however me that did a weeks detention and an extra month on report for that!). C. to this day I don’t know what happened. I never understood what those bandages meant, I never understood and yet I knew they were something and I didn’t need to know anything else. We became friends that very day. We were so very different.

I see you from time to time. We always stop and chat. You’re looking well and you make me proud. Your path I know now was so very different to mine. Your head muddled with voices, telling you to do things.  You look so very well. I realised today as you sat sipping tea, you changed me. All those years ago in that stupid classroom, you changed me. You showed me a glimpse of a side of me that I never knew existed. I protected you all those years ago because I knew in that instant that you needed it, you showed me that I was capable of standing out in the world alone, of standing up and having an opinion or a thought that was different from the crowd and you taught me, that was not only okay, but it was tremendous. So when they ask me about all those years ago, I think of you and your courage and your strength and your friendship ♥.

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