The nights were drawing in closer, and the afternoons never really brightened up, leaving a dull mist over the entire town. But through the dingy weather, a brightness would spring up and make all the locals smile: It was carnival time. The streets were filled with flags, the local brass band was practicing every night, and the fair was setting up on the local rec field. For us kids, it was especially exciting, as it was half term.
For the first time in a long time, I was now living close enough to a friend to be able to see her whenever we wanted, instead of having to rely on getting a lift or trying to work out the timetable of the dodgy bus service.
She would come round to my house, and with both my parents out, we would scour the cupboards for something to munch on. I would bake a chocolate cake, mix up some chocolate icing and we would eat it in one sitting. My house was always popular because it had a computer, lots of records, plenty of videos and lots of books to look at. You couldn’t get bored at our house. But somehow, as kids do, we would get cabin fever and grab our bikes and cycle to a nearby park.
We sat nonchalantly on the swings, and let ourselves drift back and forth while talking about boys and dreaming about ditching school and being flatmates by the sea. Inevitably, people from school would walk past and we would bitch about them but quietly, because we were too scared of them to say anything out loud. Usually, these were the people who would, when we returned to school, throw netballs at us during P.E, and push us under our desks when all we were trying to do was get out of their view of the board during lessons.
Suddenly, my friend climbed to the top of the slide. I thought for a mad moment that she was actually going to slide down. That would have been stupid a) because it was still damp from the morning’s rain and b) because we were there to sit nonchalantly on the swings, not actually use the play equipment for our enjoyment. But she didn’t. She started waving at the cars on the other side of the hedge. From her vantage point on the top landing of the slide, she could see them and they could see her.
“Someone waved back!” she said, jumping up and down with excitement. I didn’t believe her and scrambled up to join her. Soon, we were both waving at all the cars that came towards us, and squealing with delight when someone actually acknowledged us, either with a smile, a nod of the head, or rarely, a wave back. This little game actually kept us occupied for a long time, until our arms were aching and our heads were spinning from the height and from the giggling. Tiring, I perched on the railing of the slide, still waving madly. I recognised a car.
“That’s the Head,” I said, gritting my teeth but unable to stop waving. The Headteacher spotted us, his eyes widened, and he looked as though he would pull over. We ran down the steps as fast as we possibly could, grabbed our bikes and ran and ran and ran. Why we didn’t actually get on our bikes to assist our getaway, I will never know.