When I was little, I had a very close friend. She had thick shoulder-
length hair that was black, dry and smelt of artificial peaches. It was
always swept back in messy pigtail braids. It was neatly tied at the
start of the day, but by the afternoon, large strands of hair were
hanging loose and her hair looked like a mountain range of bumps.
She often said that she didn’t want to take out the braids in fear that
she couldn’t tie her hair up again. I managed to persuade her once.
After she attempted to tie her hair back, it looked worse than it did
before. She had to leave her hair out for the rest of the day.
Her large ears stuck straight out, like handles, on both sides of
her head. She said it was because she made too many silly faces. I
said it was because of her large round glasses. We used to make a joke
that they were the reason why she couldn’t run very fast. Once, we
taped her ears back and tried to race to see if she could run any faster.
She looked so ridiculous, I couldn’t help laughing, and we ended up
not racing at all.
I remember when I made a joke or said something funny, her eyes
would go slightly cross-eyed as she smiled and showed a row of
perfect teeth. She had beautiful eyes. They would change colour
almost as often as she blinked. They would reflect the colour of
whatever was in front of her, but they would always have the same
tree-bark coloured ring around the pupil. She said that it changed
colour according to her mood. I never believed her.
When she talked, she would talk very softly, just loud enough so
that only the people close to her could hear her. She never laughed
around me, just chuckled or giggled. Her shoulders would shake ever
so slightly and she would cover her toothy grin with both hands.
This gesture would always make the adults frown. The rare sound of
her laughter sometimes seeped through the cracks of the walls and
reached my ears and I would always ask myself, what was she
laughing about, and who could make her laugh, when I couldn’t.
She loved the playground. Whenever I asked her what she wanted
to do, she would grin happily and drag me by the arm to the
playground. She would run around, spinning the wheel, staring
through the plastic telescope and yell at me to join her. It was one of
the only times I have ever heard her shout. Some days we were
successful and threatening pirates, swimming in gold and loot,
eating lavishly in a ship that sliced the ocean in half as it dashed off
into the sunset. On other days, we were a gentle and welcoming