At the crossing, I waited for the light to turn green.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Sacha has already crossed the road and was now crossing back to me.
I didn’t say anything
What the hell are your waiting for?
The road was quiet. I didn’t even need to come up to the light, I could have crossed anywhere I pleased. But that wasn’t the point. I was taking advantage of the mundanity. Pressing the button, watching the WAIT sign light up, patiently looking at the red, then the amber. It was familiar and new at the same time. More vibrant and powerful than I remembered. Then suddenly it dawned on me.
I grew up around here.
Then you know you can just cross the bloody road when there’s no cars!
He marched off and I followed, quicker than before. More excited.
Around the corner. Here. that’s my primary school!
I pointed at a red brick building, something from the Victorian era. Slate roof. Iron railings. One of the bay windows on the third floor noticeably replaced because Tyler Williams has kicked a ball through it in Year Three.
Congratulations. Sacha said, unamused.
Did you grow up around here?
Yeah, it made sense. Those trainers, I had seen them before on many boys. In the playground, on the benches at the back of the dog park that my mum had told me to avoid. I’d seen them hanging around the off license, stubbing out roll ups. Kicking some poor boy’s head in because he’s strayed too far from his postcode.
Do you think that’s why they put us together? I mused, looking at those trainers as they sped away from me now.
Sacha stopped and turned abruptly.
We are not together. He growled. They placed us in the same neighbourhood because it’s a familiar neighbourhood. That’s all. There’s no ‘together’ here. Do you understand? You’re on your own. I’m on my own. We are all just on our own.
I don’t know why it hurt me. Maybe it felt like a rejection, like a truth I couldn’t utter. But it hit me like a gut punch and all I could think to do was hit him back.
Then maybe I should go on my own. You didn’t want to come anyway. So go. Fuck off back home to your flat and your pasta!
Oh, I will! And no need to thank me! It’s not like you’ve derailed my afternoon.
What afternoon? Eating tinned tomatos and broccoli? Sounds like a hoot.
Better than slitting my wrist or whatever you were going to do.
You’re an arsehole.
And you’re a spoilt bitch.
He turned back in the direction of the house and swept past me.
Then a drop of water hit my face.
Oh my God!
Did you just spit at me?
Spit at you? Do I look like the kind of guy who fucking spits on people?
Another drop. I touched my face.
What is that?
I told you, didn’t I? I told you. Hurry. Up. And now it’s raining.
It’s bloody raining!