I know they knew
She is sitting off to one side, I think, so she can see whats going on but also not to be noticed. She doesn't ask questions, nods when necessary and appears at the door beside or behind someone, never alone, but appears to loiter near the others. She's always clutching a bag or umbrella or jacket or anything to grip onto. She hunches, ignoring the strands of greasy dark blonde hair covering her eyes and when anyone else would be irritated, she tilts her chin lower appearing welcoming more hair falling forward, it separates her from others. She walks slowly at first, then hastens her stride as she gets through and out of the door, into the dark corridor and out of my sight.
This girl is me. In my angsty teenage years.
I'd flee school as quickly as I could at the end of the day and head to my Grandparents house in time for afternoon tea where I knew I'd be welcomed with wide arm and a warm hug. I'd kick off my school shoes and peel off my socks, dump my school bag and step on to the cold tiles and open the pantry like it was my own. I could hear the kettle boiling and Nan was fiddling with a bobby pin (she seemed to have an endless supply of them) and was trying to hold me still and lovingly pin my hair out of my eyes while saying something about “I want to see your beautiful face”. I looked up and into her icy blue eyes and I was transformed into me. No cares, no weighted judgement I carried with my from 8.45am til 2.52pm five days a week, just me.
Pop calls out from the patio to “bring out the biccies love” and I grab them and head to the back sliding door thats being held open for me. As I sit at the white wrought iron table on my white wrought iron chair with its squishy yellow vinyl cushion see Pop ready to ask me the same predictable question I hear every school afternoon, “what did you learn today love?”. And I tell them “nothing”.
If I could answer them now I'd say, “I learnt acceptance, compassion, generosity, unconditional love and the importance of valuing the time we have together, because its limited, and...I miss you”.