I was only just five but turning six, don’t get me wrong. I was about to have my first year in a big school with all of the other big girls. My mom got my uniform – which consisted of a white golf shirt with my school’s name written in red very small over my heart and a pair of red shorts – and it was (like all of my future classmates uniforms) very big. In fact those red shorts lasted until I was thirteen.
On my first day, I was sorted into Mrs Askew’s class. We were assigned little lockers in which we could keep our pretty pictures and colourful crayons. Each locker had a cartoon with our name. My cartoon was a pair of sneakers. I met lots of little girls and we played games all day. I don’t really remember which girls I played with on that first day but I do remember my second day very well. We had been given the task of colouring in a flower picture. I was so engrossed in my marvelous artistic talents that I didn’t notice that the crayon I was using was not my own. It belonged to the girl next to me, a girl that I had never really spoken to. I gave her back her crayon and we started to compare pictures. She showed me her locker and she was so proud to have a toothpaste cartoon. Before we knew it we were flying through conversations and took turns recounting fairy tales of all shapes and sizes. We just couldn’t get enough of each other’s company.
We played games where we were fairies and princesses and twins and spies and ninjas and mommies. She would come to my house and I would go to hers. I got to know her dogs and her mom treated me like her own daughter. We started growing up together. I was there for her when her parents got divorced; she was there for me when we had to amputate my dog’s leg. We were always there. We went from sharing fairy stories to sharing scary stories. We began sharing music, movies, food and memories. When she got her first crush, we would talk about him non-stop. We went on holidays together and made new friends together. We were inseperable.
Until we were twelve. Then for the first time in seven years we were in different classes. But you know what? We made it work. We would meet up between classes and swap funny stories of the past lesson. But yet again the next year, we were in separate classes. This year was harder than the year before because not only were we in high school but we also had to face the fact that at the end of the year she would be moving across the world to live in Australia. Her step-dad got a new job in Melbourne. I tried to be mad at him and force them to stay but it’s like trying to be mad at your own dad and when you’re not yet an experienced teenage girl it can be rather hard.
The boxes got packed and the plane tickets were bought and before I could bare it, we were waiting at the airport terminal. It was a hard. Through sobs and hugs I gave her a scrap book I made of pictures from the nine years worth of memories and she gave me the book I leant her – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. But I noticed that her book mark was at the end. I insisted that she keep it until she is finished. Today I found out that the movie for that book would be coming out next year.
We Skype regularly and text whenever we have exciting news that would normally be after school gossip. She came back to South Africa to visit this March. It had been one year and three months since we had been able to chat without a screen but it felt like she never left. She was still the little girl I met in Mrs Askew’s class.