In my last year of my fourth and final primary school, I often spent my playtimes alone riffling through books in the library, but, not today. Today the sun beat down on the playground and the tarmac boiled, banishing us to the field. Everybody loved the field. I didn’t.
At the time, it seemed like a thousand kids were swarming across the grass. They were nothing more than ants rushing to a sugar mountain. I was grudgingly at the tail end of the child army. It wasn’t that I disliked the field, but on the grass I always thought I would be found out as no fun, because I couldn’t run fast or labelled “Stressy-Vicky” if I so much as shouted, even in fun. Other children’s games always seemed confusing and when I attempted to join in I couldn’t quite put everything together and whenever I tried anything it didn’t quite work. It could have been my own paranoia reflected in their faces; I do not know for sure.
However, I had forged a friendship with one person. We experienced a terribly rocky start, because I’d joined her school just as her best friend, Kate, left. She ridiculed me at every opportunity, forever trying to get a rise out of me, often successfully. How we went from this to “best friends” is hard to say. Perhaps she found without Kate she was alone and as “new kid” I was easy pickings.
“Grass fight!” some boy in my class yelled. I forced my mouth to contort into a “that’s-a-great-idea” smile, purely a mask. Already there was a sticky nastiness in the air, a gentle, but imminent peril, coaxing us all to the bosom of falling outs and tantrums.
The mass flocked to the top corner of the field, where a pile of grass trimmings sat ominously. Countless tiny hands rushed before my eyes. Cuttings flew in all directions, like fireworks in the wind. Amid the scrum of children I felt as if I could be trampled on at any second.
Suddenly, I saw a pig of a girl running towards me, grass in one hand and a threat in the other. It was my best friend, red faced and sweaty. All at once I recognised her for the person I’d first met. Her piggy eyes flashed, her lips twisted into a cruel smirk. I knew I had become her prey. In this lonely moment I knew had been all along. My insides scrambled painfully. Spinning right round, I made a beeline for the main buildings of the school.
The predator was surprisingly quick on her stocky legs. I felt a hand, talons piercing my shoulder, pulling me round with a jolt that turned my stomach. And, without a moments warning, the beastly child had stuffed the grass down my throat and wiped it across my face. The grass felt not unlike what I expect a hairball would feel like, the smell of summer filled my nose. I spluttered, spitting blades and fury, gasping for air.
In these few seconds I lost sight of her. Red in the face and mind I darted for anyone in authority. Finding a dinner lady on duty, I blurted out the whole story. She frogmarched me to the library and here she summoned the marauder.
“Did you throw grass at Vicky’s face?”
“No!” she gave an angelic smile, painting her face the colour of innocence. They believed her and the betrayal was cold at my throat. I could feel the bottom of my miniature universe falling out.
A rage I’d never known before spread from my centre, venom coursed through my blood, a dull thud pounding in my ears.
I slapped her hard across the face. It creased up and froze her mouth hanging slightly open.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Her eyes were squeezed tight and her cheeks were scarlet. I kept slapping her, unaware of the eyes that were on me.