Standing in the dark, freezing, the air vibrating with possibility: her best friends beside her, her best boys in front. They were a tribe, working each other out for the thrill of it though they knew each other completely. 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, where the hedge ends, the playground….. She used to lie in the roundabout’s palm, it’s heavily painted iron fingers spread out beneath her, the spinning starry sky filling her eyes. She was dazzled! (Every moment must have been shot through with vitality, wide eyed awareness and feeling 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, used to fill only their eyes. She dropped her key through wooden slats now long gone. It’ll be buried now, a primary source from the early 1990s.
And the best friends? 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.