Eight forty-four, a bleary September sixth. We sat on the low wall outside D12, hands hugging nasty tuck shop coffees buzzing with four sugars each. It was too early. It was always too early. We couldn’t wait for life to never start that early again.
We watched them hurry by; the new kids, the younglings, the fresh crop. They looked just the same as last year. New shoes, snail-shell rucksacks, ties done up to here. Not a threadbare jumper in sight. We watched them peg it to their first lessons, the fear of tardiness and teacher’s wrath written across their red, chubby faces.
We wondered how long it would be before their bags shrunk, their ties dropped, their feet dragged behind them.
Before they became like us.
Maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they were too far gone to be saved.
I mean, God: did we ever look like that?