Standing in the freezing darkness, the air vibrating with possibility: her best friends beside her, her best boys in front. They were a tribe, always alert to the thrill of a new clue though they knew each other completely. She knew that if he laughed, they all would. If he ran, they all would. If she sang, they all would. If she held on tight, they all would. If he moved, they’d all follow wherever they wanted to go……
Her eyes are drawn to the bits that were theirs: that bench, the bit where the hedge ends, the playground….. She used to lie in the roundabout’s palm, it’s heavily painted tangerine iron fingers spread out beneath her, her eyes full of dazzling starry skies. (Every moment must have been shot through with vitality, wide eyed awareness and so much sensation because it’s so easy for her to relive it all now. Or is that a trick of the nostalgia?)
It has changed a little. There’s flats with balconies where owners can enjoy a sunlit view that moonlit, a quarter of a century ago, belonged only to them. She dropped her key through wooden slats now long gone.
And the friends, the tribe? They’re all lost now too, who knows where? (Probably not that far.) They are always alive in her though: carefree, laughing characters immortalised in the story of her life.
She comes here often, not only for the space, the sky, the calm but also for the joy, to feel that teenage buzz once more!
She’s older now. Different inside and out but those delicious memories are her very own elixir of youth.
Lest we forget.
When she stands by the war memorial, she smiles.