Miss Greenfield opened the classroom doors that opened up to the playground. A world map was hanging in front of the white board for the lesson she had just taught, with a few of the children still taping their pieces of paper filled with facts onto the country of their choosing. “Edward, you can do that after break time.” A boy with blonde hair had still been writing on his sheet of paper. He pushed his glasses back up to the top of his nose and strolled over to the hangers. Eagerness radiated around him as he got out his packed lunch; his mother had put in a homemade brownie, exposing his taste buds to new flavours, differing away from the standard cheese and pickle sandwich that he usually received.
The rest of the children had already collected their lunches and gone into the playground. “I heard that Ralph went ten feet up last weekend,” Pete said to Michael while they walked to the end of the playground.
Michael scanned the area, looking out for Mallory. “What’s that?”
“He went ten feet right into the air! Well Bobby Brown told me, you see. I said to him that Ralph could only make it four feet without wetting his pants.” Pete laughed, almost stopping in his tracks. Then, with a puzzled look, tapped Michael on the arm. “Hey, don’t you find it funny or something? Come on, can’t you imagine Ralph on his bike heading for the ramp and then falling two feet over, flat on his big nose.” Pete ran circles around Michael with his arms out like he was on a bike, making vroom-ing noises.
Michael smiled when he finally saw Mallory coming out of her classroom. She stood outside for a while until she caught sight of her friends, running over to them as they counted her in to play jump rope with them. Her skirt flew up when she jumped but she didn’t seem to care. Michael thought of the reaction that her friends would have had if she didn’t have tights on and they could see the blue patterns dyed onto her legs. He turned his attention back to Pete, deciding that there was no point thinking about it. “I say he made it ten feet,” said Michael.
“Really? But, but…” protested Pete.
“But then he dropped down so fast that he cried for his mummy, and that is why he can’t show his face today to tell his own story. He told Bobby Brown some line about the dare devil inside him, I’m sure. Probably even told him that his mum won’t let him leave the house now because she is scared for his life.” Michael put on a high pitched voice and clasped his hands together as he knelt down to look like he was praying. “Oh please god, don’t let my poor Ralphy get hurt. He is so dear to me,” he said.
Pete and Michael burst into laughter, and then sat by the wall to eat their lunch. Michael only had half a sandwich because he had given the other half to Mallory. He had to make their lunch that morning while his father slept on the sofa. Mallory had already finished her half on the other side of the playground. She looked over at her friends’ lunches, while she pushed each of her fingers through the cling film that she was holding on to.
Pete was still chatting away to Michael, with crumbs falling out of his mouth, onto his jumper. His palms began to sweat and his head throbbed. He walked over to Edward, who was eating his brownie by himself on the swings. Michael shoved him off.
“Ouch! What was that for?” Edward was lying on the ground with wood chips indenting themselves into him.
Michael grabbed the brownie from him and turned around to leave. He looked over and Mallory was jumping in the rope again. No one seemed to see him take the brownie except Pete, who was currently running towards him.
“Michael, what are you doing?” asked Pete.
“Hey, give that back!” Edward was up now, running towards Michael. He pushed him but Michael was much larger than Edward so his force was not enough to make him lose his balance.
“Just go away,” Michael said to Edward. “Come on, Pete. Let’s go back and sit down.”
“Is that Ed’s? Mike, give it back.” Pete stopped in front of Michael.
Edward lashed out at Michael, pushing him into Pete this time. Michael pressed his lips together until the edges splintered into the ruptures during the formation of cooled molten rock. He punched Edward in his jaw, flinging one of his baby teeth out across the gravel. The playground hushed to a hum of children’s laughter.
“Back to class, kids,” Miss Greenfield announced to the children.
Michael ran over to Mallory and pushed the brownie into her coat pocket. She grinned, but he ignored her and walked back to his classroom.