• 20th December, 2004

    As dawn broke over the valley,
    Not a sound was heard.

    The wind swept Bernard’s Street, white snow bombed down on the red-brick houses. It was still early in the morning; we’re the only house in the whole neighbourhood with the lights on.

    I was dreaming about the Christmas turkey my mother is going to get, when the cockerel screeched out of the alarm clock and made my ears pop. But that didn’t wake me up; it was the heavenly smell of bacon and beans that got me out of bed. Dad set the central heating to turn on automatically at 6 o’clock. Automatically. So, it was very warm when I woke up.

    Mother cooks the best breakfast in the world. My favourite is her English breakfast, the golden eggs, the mouth-watering bacon, tempting sausages and the freshly-oven-baked bread. One munch, another munch, until the warmth filled my stomach. The voice of Ben Shepherd and Fiona Phillips sprinted out of the old Television set into my ear, but was clashed and overruled by the relaxing tune of Christmas carols CD, bought from the local shop just round the corner, playing in the distant background.

    Meanwhile, Lily, my little sister, was still on her trek to explore the lands of pixies when the humongous, evil, dirty ogre, namely my dad (he always play the bad parts), dragooned her to go back to the wearisome and colourless world of school, and parents. Someone was not very pleased. Lily’s face wrinkled, the edge of her mouth dropped, her eyes stared straight into the ogre, with fire of anger burning inside. But the humongous, evil, dirty ogre had a trick up his sleeve. He, nimbly, turned into the wonderful Santa Claus everybody loves when he stretched out his arm and dipped his hand into his meagre wallet, and presented a fiver to her adorable daughter…… I wasn’t chuffed.

    It took Lily another forty odd minutes before all her make up and nail polish set and we were, at last, ready to go. Complaining still, as she made down the stairs, she wrecked the beautiful carol and terminated the peace and quiet.

    I put on my woolly mammoth hat and gloves, the little woolly balls that hanged down from the edge, softly brushed my face. As I was putting on my wellies, mother opened the front door, a gust of wind and snow blew into my face, stiffening it, my eyes squinted. I marched towards the blizzard of iciness. I kept marching, and marching, I fell, mother’s tender hands lifted me up and rescued me. We reached the car finally; it was so far away, as we cannot find a space to park last night, because the neighbour’s friends were taking every inch of it.

    Inside the car was not better than outside, but at least it shields us away from the snowstorm. We reached the school gate early in the morning, the playground was empty, and the only thing insight is the school-keeper’s 1984 FORD Granada LX 2.3 V6 car, at the side of the school, shielded away from the white blizzard. I had to come here early, because Lily had to go to another school miles away. I brought my footy in my bag, and, as politicians always say on TV, in normal circumstances, I would get it out and have a kick-about. But the atmosphere today was… different; I sat down at the corner of the front-doorway, crunched up like a little prawn, in a lonely sea.

    Today is the last day of school before the Christmas holiday, I should be excited and happy, but there is this emptiness inside me, a girl. And in this sub rosa doorstep, her memory crept up on my little brain…

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    3rd September, 2002

    It was the beginning of a new school year, a fresh new start. After the long break our family had in the Mediterranean sunshine, I was revived to kick off the New Year with an easy take off. But my old maths teacher, Mrs. Anderson, has left the school. I was her favourite student, so her leaving was a big loss for me. Ironically, the newbie teacher that replaces her was her son, Mr. Anderson. A 20-oddish man, with shiny boots, an oversized Winnie the Pooh tie tucked underneath the cheap shabby jacket; his hair was scruffy as a dog’s dinner. He came in the classroom, with a piece of pink paper in his hands. It was the dreaded seating plan. I didn’t approve of sitting plans, its garbage in my opinion. But, surprisingly, he had drawn it out very neatly with a black biro, using a ruler, so I’d let him off this time; the box next to my name reads ‘Karen’.

    I hadn’t seen Karen before; she must have joined the school this year. We got the seats at the back, right next to the window leading to the back garden our school have, to promote the “Greener Life” campaign. It was only the first day of school and already badly-photocopied worksheets. When I reached question 3 on the worksheet, she whispered the first word to me.

    “Hi.” Her negligible voice whispered, followed on by an inviting smile.
    “Good morning.” I replied.

    That was all we said all morning, I was a bit nervous, sitting next to such dazzling being. But that “Hi”, that smile, was enough to make me find her at my precious lunchtime and form a friendship before all the girlies get their hands on her. I was bamboozled when I found her in the garden, alone by herself. Kneeling down, putting her nose on the Chrysanthemum, Rudbeckia and Leucanthemum in which she picked; her golden hair reflecting the glorious light into my squinted eyes. The light breeze brushed her hair, tweeting birds, elegant looking Cinderella, with her pick of summer life. I soon fell into this fairy tale.

    “Very pretty flowers you got there.” I said in a charming accent. I was going to say “very pretty face you got there”, but I manage to keep it in. It was something I learnt from my daddy, now I had the chance to use it. He told me that’s how he got my mummy into falling in love with him.

    She looked up at me with her eyes fully open, surprised to see me. I knelt down next to her, looked down at the bed of flowers, that’s breathing the sense of summer into me. I picked out a white daisy and slid it under her silky hair. A moment of peace and calmness. A delicate butterfly glided onto the daisy, took a little nap, and fluttered in harmony with the wind, beyond the horizon…

    The next maths lesson soon came by, and I can talk to Karen again. Her daddy is a business manager, he moved here, when that new factory opened here. The mayor was there at the opening ceremony, it was on the local newspaper too. He was wearing a smart-looking tie and his shoes were polished, shiny as the silvery moon, his jacket was much better than Mr. Anderson’s. He works in that new factory making sweets. He makes gummy bears mostly, because everyone adores gummy bears. Gummy bears are cute. I love gummy bears. Karen leaked to me in secret that her dad has this magic machine, and little bears jump out of its wide-opened mouth like mischievous toddlers, who’d drunk too much Lucozade.

    Karen was always a merry girl. I get along with her very well, we do everything together. There was me, standing outside the newly painted door, inhaling every odour from the suffocating solvent, waiting for her to walk out. Just to eat our lunches together, just like best friends do.

    All dinner ladies were ornery, giving us midget portion of non-fish fish-fingers and “happy” faces, while they are busy at the back gobbling all the good stuff up. They are monsters they are. Jamie Oliver told us dinner ladies put toxins in our food, green chemicals stored in a big iron barrel which will make us work like swots, they then control us using radio controls, taking over the world, very much like Pinky and the Brain.

    And anyway, that is why we bring our own sandwiches. My mummy and her mummy make very good sandwiches, but every so often, she’ll forget or lose her lunch, and God knows how, but I would kiss goodbye my specially made Bernard Matthews Wafer Thin ham and cucumber sandwich and give it to her, so she won’t starve to death. We talk, a lot, at lunchtimes and soon, we were chums.

    As time raced pass us, the fruit of our friendship blossomed, the essence of affinity spread like wild fire. Karen and I were now the best of friends, nothing in this world could separate us. Everyday, I go to her house to do “homework” and her dad will look after me for the day when my parents are still at work. We talk to each other about everything, from our favourite bubblegum flavour to our favorite Tellytubby. (Mine is Lala) She shares my sorrow and joy, I lend her my shoulder and I laugh along with her. Sometimes we would stare at each other for ages, and our eyes will not blink, but our head will come closer together, until it touches each other.

    In the deepest of summers, Karen and I would go to the little hill next to the old railway line, and we would stay there until the sun is out, lying back on the dried out grass, the colour of yellow ochre and hint of green enclosed us; how delicate is the blue sky, with flying sheep floating effortlessly in the air. How elegant is her hand, rubbing against mine, oh, the passion and affection, passing on from me to her and her to me. We bring cans of spaghetti onto the hill and we eat them when the sun goes down, enjoying the view, which is enriched by us. Holding hands as we walk back down the hill, kissing each other on the cheeks occasionally. I picked up a red rose on the way home, and I handed over to her, earning myself another kiss. We gave each other a big hug before my mother came with her little Fiat Panda and take me home.

    That was the last time I saw her, she disappeared off the face of this earth, along with her family, and mother told me that they moved to another place, a better place. She did send me a final letter in a soft yellow envelope…

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    Eternity, forever

    Good bye to you my dearest friend,
    My only dream.
    The time with you will last for years,
    My only dream.

    The string between us will never die,
    So my baby don’t cry.
    As long as you see a star in the sky,
    I will be there.

    You gave me life when I was down,
    Lifted me from the hollow grave;
    You gave me love when other’s not around,
    Set off a fire of passion.

    Until I see you face to face,
    And our hands brought together;
    You are my valentine ace,
    How much farther we get,
    If destiny calls,
    We will rub shoulders,
    One more time.

    The letter enhanced my desire to talk to her. All my hopes lied on the back of the envelope, but there was only a smeared blue blur, tampered by the rain, it was unrecognisable. My heart dropped, tears dribbled, adding to the mess on the envelope. The sun was not shining anymore; gloomy clouds soon blanketed the now shimmering gleam, blanketed my dissolved heart.

    That letter dwells safely in my back garden, hidden and protected from the spiteful nature of this creation. That letter symbolize our short-lived love: it will remain for eternity.

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    20th December, 2004

    How much I loved her, how much I missed her, and how much she enlightened my soul, but now she is gone, I will have to go back to the moment we kissed and hugged, and I feel the warmth of her body heat, surrounding me, in this cold pre-Christmas school day.

    The sea opened,
    Without a sound;
    My heart frozen,
    Without an anthem…

    Time Stops

    I recall the day when we ran to the hill,

    looked back at the footprints we made.

    I smiled.
    Not because it is ended,
    But because it happened.

    I turned back round,
    And I will finish my journey,