Oh, Sarah! What did I feel? Horrified? Excluded? We were only twelve, for goodness’ sakes! Just the previous year, Miriam was a friend I liked to call my ‘best’. And she the most enthusiastic clamourer of the lot!
We were betrayed. There is no other word for how we were treated. Our trust was annihilated, our friendship destroyed.
There were just two of us, Guita and I, who stood apart, and we were frowned upon, wordlessly ridiculed. Even Lalla joined in at first. Even she went the first time.
So Miriam and the rest of my erstwhile friends loved it. The alcohol gave them reckless confidence. Every Friday evening, they went to their field—you know the one, six minutes’ walk from Tony and Colton’s, with the milestone at the gate—with a group of mindless boys, got as drunk as they could, capered and caroused, kissed and flirted with whoever would retaliate pleasingly, whatever sex or gender that person happened to be, and went back to one another’s houses to exploit the leniency or absence of these carefully-selected parents; they would indulge in libidinous activities with not a single misgiving.
And it has continued for three years now, every weekend. “Jack wants booze this weekend,” thus his girlfriend. “And he’ll get it!” thus our dear Felicity, with her huge head and her brown-pink-red-orange skin colour, like some kind of prehistoric animal of the brutal ochreous desert. There is no secrecy, no outward lie—they just shout out their plans as if they thought the very walls of the classroom would approve.
They thought it was cool at first. They thought teenagers cavorted and caroused and were accepted. They were accepted, and they celebrated that and continued with their ‘clever’ caper, as if they had not been accepted before it had begun. The ‘accepting’ classmates mummed their disapproval of underage alcohol abuse, also under the impression that frolicking was ‘cool’ and therefore should not be questioned. It was Guita and I, the two who were happy and healthy, who were the social rejects.
We started our own little group, just the few of us, and trekked through the ensuing years, watching the illegal and undignified activities of old friends with sorrow in our broken hearts. Miriam was a traitor. She was still witty and kind—but she had betrayed us, and we were locked in a vicious cycle of untruth and uncertainty.