I miss her.
Every so often, I think of the fleeting, joyous, intimate moments shared between girls that seem to fall through your fingers like fine sand.
Those shared experiences become rarer and harder to find.
I remember staying up late with her, watching, with heavy eyelids, VHS tapes borrowed from the local rental shop.
I remember American Pie and Scary Movie.
I remember lying on opposite sofas in her living room staring at the ceiling, with neither of us needing to talk, but knowing that we both could if we ever wanted to.
I would wince at the cold air, focusing on the TV static to avoid the open darkness, and curl the blanket beneath my toes, letting the leftover popcorn spill onto the living room carpet.
I miss the wallpaper.
I remember a photograph of us together on her windowsill, both of us clad in Claire's Accessories and head to toe in Tammy at BHS.
I once stared at that photograph and wondered how long we'd be in each other's lives for.
One summer, we stood in the boiling heat on her patio and threw a coconut to the ground, hoping it would crack open and taste exactly like a Bounty chocolate bar.
We'd make straight-from-the-box Aunt Bessie's cupcakes, and pancakes with tablespoons of sugar, which, to this day my Mom would still be horrified by.
I remember climbing trees in her back garden, grass stains on my dungarees, when she'd tell me that fairies were real and if I didn't believe in them, they'd die.
I long to scrape my ankles across loose branches.
Legs ruby red from nettles and grubby hands marred with tree sap.
We'd go inside, and I'd tip toe across her kitchen floor, hopping over the icy tiles and cat fur.
We'd stand in her bathroom mirror and make each other over, using leftover lip gloss from birthday gifts, hardened mascara and stale perfume.
We'd put on eye shadow with our fingers.
I remember once, she dared me to drink a shot of Listerine and of course I said yes.
I remember my eyes watering, I remember the peppermint stinging my tonsils.
We'd play in her Mom's bedroom.
We'd fall and laugh from failing Twister.
From her pillows we'd build a mountain, jump from the bed and feel the feathers pinch our skin as we landed.
I remember her old computer. Her spinning me on a desk chair until I was dizzy, my heels pulled up to my bum.
We found YouTube, RuneScape and Habbo Hotel.
We'd spend all weekend downloading shitty pop songs from LimeWire, dancing, jumping, wailing until we got too tired.
I remember flicking through her Mom's CDs, Ibiza Club Classics and Now... That's What I Call Music and turning up the volume as loud as it could go.
I remember playing hide and seek and getting bored when she wouldn't find me.
I remember taking it in turns to slide down the stairs on her mattress. I remember once hitting my head and panicking.
I remember sneaking into her brother's room, a few years older than us, to trifle through his PS2 games and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, hoping to find condoms or cigarettes and being disappointed.
And lastly, I remember playing 'Roommates' in her attic bedroom - a more sophisticated version of 'House', probably inspired by Gilmore Girls or Sex in the City - and realising that I loved her.
She was fun, magnetic, controlling, boisterous.
She was there for me.
So we pretended to be adults. We lived together, playing imaginary cook and cleaner, neatening up our apartment and falling into our girlhood fantasy.
Now, it's time for bed, she says.
I feel nervous.
My hands are cold and clammy and no matter how many times I wipe them on my pyjamas it seems to make no difference!
We shut the curtains, we get into bed. Sunlight softly peaks through the hot pink cotton, casting a warm hue across her room. She pulls her t-shirt over her head, necklace caught in her hair.
I remember freezing up, for fear of her laughing at my flat chest.
I remember getting changed in P.E. as fast as possible, pleading my older self to have big tits like everybody else did.
My feet are cold.
She pulls the covers over our heads and props her hand up to hold up the weight of the fabric.
Her nails are painted with a metallic shimmer, chipped and overgrown. I can't remember who asked for the kiss. I licked my lips a dozen times, worrying they wouldn't be soft enough, and she did the same.
With sticky wet mouths, we both leaned in.
I remember the excitement.
The butterflies in my stomach!
The flipped switch and the guilt all rolled into one confusing bundle.
Our mouths parted, and as she pulled away I remember, with wide eyes, being alarmed by a spiderweb string of drool keeping us together.
Looking at her, unaffected, I downplayed my joy, letting us slip back into our roles as two best friends.
I still miss her.
Published in Forward Magazine