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Memories of Time Gone By (extract)

12 October. Fourteen days after my birthday, fourteen days before Kat's. It's a tradition we started when we were eight years old. I can taste our excitement as we sneak out of the school playground and run, laughing, down the leaf-strewn street. Giggling, we collapse at the stream, tears of laughter streaming down our faces. Down here, just under the bridge at the river's edge no-one can see us. It's our place. Our peals of laughter echo off the walls as we think of our mothers who dropped us off at school half an hour ago and who think we're there right now. Kat's long, dark hair falls in a curtain around her tan face and her shoulders shake with silent laughter. My light brown curls bounce around my head as I jump around excitedly for some reason I can't remember.

When we were ten it rained. The fat droplets thundered down on the bridge, splashed on the river, streamed down the muddy bank. But under the bridge it couldn't reach us. I can see Kat now, imitating Lorna Hayes, the witch of our year, swinging her hips and tossing her hair. I'm laughing and now she is too. We stuff our faces with chocolate and crisps and the lunches our mums packed for us this morning. Kat's larking about, waving her hands in the air as she speaks. A splash, a shriek and she's in the river. I'm bent double laughing; she's sitting with water up to her chest with a startled expression on her face which makes me laugh all the harder. Then while I'm not looking she sweeps her arms through the murky water and covers me in it. Our screams mix with our laughter as the smell of wet clothes fills the damp air.

We went there every year on 12 October and other times if something good happened, like when I won that poetry competition and when she got top marks in a French test. We also went there when something bad happened, like when Kat's grandmother died. But even the bad things didn't matter... if we had each other, everything was alright in the end. We saw the world through rose-tinted glasses back then. What wouldn't I give to be back there, under the bridge with Kat, laughing and joking and smiling.... I grin despite myself as the memories come flooding back.

The chimes of the grandfather clock in the hallway snap me out of my reverie. The clock says it's midnight which means it's actually seventeen past.

And Tony's still not home.

Hannah Kunzlik

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