Whenever you think of friends, you always think of those three girls at school, Sarah and Katie and Jenny. Never Frances, never you. Whenever you remember friendship, you always remember it at a distance. You on the outside, looking in.
If you concentrate hard enough, you can bring yourself back there – to the schoolyard at break-times. The three girls, the best of friends, swapping stories and jokes and laughs, all of them free and easy in their Benetton clothes, their hair freshly shampooed, their Clarks shoes made to measure, the exotic smell of oranges and fabric conditioner always around them.
They frightened the life out of you, didn’t they, those girls when you started school first? They were a source of fascination for you, the kinds of girls who lived lives you had only ever seen on tv. You with your horn-rimmed glasses, your sensible navy anorak and your lace-up shoes. What did you know of suburban style like this?
Nothing ever changed. You never broke into these kinds of circles, never had friends you linked arms with or pledged to be bridesmaid for, or promised to live, maybe even die for.
Sure there are days when you wonder what it might have been like, to have been one of the gang, to have fitted in with the likes of Sarah and Katie and Jenny from an early age. Mostly, you don’t mind though. You let these kinds of thoughts pass you by and stick to being you, an older and wiser version of the same little clodhopper you always were. Franny four-eyes, standing silently in the shadows, constantly looking out for fascinating things to wonder at….