‘They solve it together, but it was like an accident. Then they go home. Happy ending.’
Neither girl said anything for a while but Gheeta could feel a big grin inside of her wanting to burst out onto her face. It was warming, like the sun on her skin. The noise of the rush hour traffic from Park Square roundabout filled the silence.
Then came a sudden mood change as Courtney, sauntered into view. Gheeta felt Keisha stiffen slightly next to her.
‘What’s up?’ Gheeta asked her.
Keisha shook her head. ‘Nothing.’
‘Alright?’ Courtney shouted at them and started making her way over.
Keisha picked up Gheeta’s notepad. ‘Just write what you told me,’ she said, tapping at the page, almost urgently. ‘It was right good the way you told it.’
‘Yeah. I love that it was a girl that saved the boy, and it was about friends,’ her voice had lowered into a hushed whisper.
‘What’s this?’ Courtney, cut into their conversation. ‘All cosy with little kids are we, Keisha?’
‘We’re the same age,’ said Gheeta, even though she could feel her stomach churning.
Keisha dropped the notepad and pencil onto Gheeta’s lap.
‘Did you get it?’ Courtney demanded.
Keisha shook her head.
Courtney rolled her eyes dramatically. ‘Did you even ask her?’
‘Forgot,’ said Keisha, her voice small.
‘OMG! I ask you to do one little thing,’ Courtney spat each word out, nastily. She had one hand on her hip.
‘Ask me what?’ Gheeta said, bravely squaring her shoulders, so that she was facing her attacker.
Courtney bore down over her. Gheeta could smell her cheap body spray, the stuff she nicked off the beauty stall at Castle Markets. She heard the snap of her gum.
‘Keisha says you got an iPhone 7. True?’
Gheeta’s hand moved in reflex to her jacket pocket. She could see Courtney’s eyes follow the movement, like a lizard tracking a fly.
Courtney stretched out a jewelled hand. ‘Let us see.’ She rolled her ringed fingers inwards then flicked them out, flashing her chipped red nail polish in, then quickly out of view.
Gheeta felt Keisha move to stand up next to Courtney. The shadow they cast together was bigger, blocking escape. Gheeta looked up at Keisha, searching for a trace of her old friend in her flat expression. She was so sure she was back - was it all a scam? Didn’t she care about her after all? Did she just come over to get her phone?
‘Come on, Jeeta,’
‘It’s Gheeta.’ She snapped back, earning herself nothing more than another pop of chewing gum, another eye roll.
‘Whatever. Get your phone out.’ The fingernails twitched like claws.
Gheeta looked at Keisha, willing her best friend to return.
‘She only wants to look at it,’ Keisha said her voice soft, but she didn’t meet Gheeta’s eye.
Gheeta stared hard at her friend. She thought about the red shoes that Gerda gave to the river. Her phone was her most precious thing. Nobody in year six, nobody in her whole school had an iPhone, it was a the present of a life-time. She reached into her pocket, grabbed her phone and thrust it into Courtney’s hands.
The gold-blinged Goddess squealed and eagerly swiped, fake nails clicking at the screen. ‘What’s the passcode?’
Still staring at Keisha, who had not looked up from the ground, Gheeta gave out her password. She could change it, when she got her phone back, if she got it back.
‘Is that why you talked to me, Keisha?’ Gheeta asked her old friend. ‘For my phone?’
Keisha shrugged, kept on looking down. Her feet moved backwards, just a bit, the toe kicking at a tuft of grass. Courtney was hopping from one foot to another as she scrolled through the Apps.
‘You’ve not even got Instagram,’ she complained. ‘Twenty-two contacts? That’s nowt. Wasted on you this phone is.’
Gheeta said nothing. Instead she opened up her bag, shoved the notebook and pencil inside and fastened it shut. She got up so abruptly she nearly knocked into Courtney.
‘Eh. Watch it,’ the bigger girl warned, her upper lip, painted red to match her nails, lifted into a snarl, but she kept her greedy eyes on the screen.
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