by Tabatha Wood ©️ 2019
I picked up the ball and threw it towards them and flashed a big, goofy smile. It narrowly missed hitting the back of Sally’s legs. She whirled around and saw me, her features darkened to a scowl. I grinned wider and waved.
I watched her eyes roll and her lip curl. She put both hands on her hips.
“Go away, Caroline. We don’t want to play with you.”
She always said that. I wasn’t deterred.
“But Mum said I had to come out and find you.”
“No. She didn’t. Go away.”
I tried to keep my smile glued on, and swallowed hard.
“She really did. She doesn’t like me coming out here on my own.”
“Caroline. Just get this through your thick head. Please. You cannot play with us. You are not welcome. Leave us alone.”
The others crowded round her, a semicircle of distain aimed squarely in my direction.
Another girl, who I didn’t know, addressed me with a venomous sneer.
“Yeah, Caroline. Piss off. You shouldn’t even be here.”
I chewed my lip uncertainly and shifted my weight from one foot to the other.
Sally lunged towards me.
“No! Just go away! Don’t make me force you!”
I saw her eyes go dark and her face change.
I dipped my head and felt my own eyes prickle. I sniffed. A slim line of mucus dribbled out of my nostrils and I caught it on the back of my hand. The silver slime left a slug-like trail. I wiped it slowly on the leg of my jeans and watched each girl’s face wrinkle in revulsion.
“Oh, my God. You’re so gross.”
Sally turned her back on me. Put her arms around the shoulders of the two nearest girls.
“Okay, Sally,” I called out. “Maybe tomorrow then?”
She made no sign that she had even heard me.
I walked to the gate at the end of the cemetery. I paused, put my hand on a gravestone by the wall. Read the words on the stone just like I did every day. Like I’d done for going on three months now.
2003 – 2019
“I really miss you, Sally,” I whispered. “I wish you’d play with me again.”