We don’t have to join them. If we get near, we’ll be warm enough. I nod.
They are singing along to a song by Lynrd Skynrd, laughing and slapping each other’s backs. They seem to be a bunch of college-goers. It feels nice sitting near them.
Ashley talks about school, wanker Conrad and Blake and how they are trying to give each other space but it’s proving hard for her, and it’s no problem to hear all that until the group picks up ABBA and is singing along to Fernando.
It’s like having an unsuspectingly ordinary day until a car suddenly runs you over.
Because all I can hear now is Mum and me singing along to Fernando over the stereo and dancing in our PJs because Mum loved ABBA and made me a fan too.
Ashley’s saying something but I can’t look at her ‘cause suddenly my vision is hazy and I can’t have her seeing me crying. I can’t have anyone seeing me crying. So I turn toward the bonfire party ‘cause these are people who don’t know me and are too busy with themselves to notice anything else. I stare into the fire, hoping the heat will dry me up but one traitor tear wretchedly rolls down and falls on the sand between my legs.
The fire dances with the wind and kisses the moon and as I wait, my face turned to it, I spot Antisocial Boy in the group. Sitting with a girl. And they are talking and she’s laughing and he looks so happy socialising, it all makes me terribly depressed and I tell Ashley I have to go home as I have an art project to work on.
She doesn’t question me. Art is important. It’s what got me into this school.
Only, when I get home I dry retch in the toilet till my stomach hurts and curl up on the floor.