27: Playground (break time)
“Who are you?” Tina asked the new girl.
“Who are you?” the new girl asked Tina.
“Tina,” said Tina.
“I’m called Tina too,” said Tina. “I can’t believe we’re both called Tina.”
“Everyone’s called Tina,” said Tina. She pointed round the playground. “Tina, Tina, Tina. And she’s Tina, and she’s Tina, too.”
“What about her?” the new Tina said, pointing to the only other girl hanging around outside.
“Oh she used to be called Tina but she changed it,” said Tina, rolling her eyes. “She’s called Teena now.”
Tina looked at Tina in confusion.
“With two E’s,” Tina clarified.
“Oh right,” said Tina. “How pretentious!”
28: The Beach (lunch time)
Antoine: How’s everything back at the house?
Agnes: Fine, fine. (pause) Actually, it’s pretty awful. Well, not awful, but, you know, there’s lots of weird things going on back home.
Antoine: New rooms again?
Agnes: No. Well, yes, but it’s not that. It’s the unsettling sort of weird. Strange phone calls, things going missing. Sometimes I keep getting the feeling we’re all being watched. And now today all the dolls disappeared. That was pretty weird.
Antoine: I thought you hated those dolls.
Agnes: Of course I don’t hate the dolls. They’re just… You have to admit they’re a bit creepy, right?
Antoine: I always thought they were sweet.
Agnes: Yeah, you would, I suppose.
Antoine: How are the kids?
Agnes: Oh they’re fine. Last week someone gave Claire some Wotsits. She went bright orange and started babbling about the future apparently. Then she threw up everywhere.
Antoine: Oh no. Is she okay?
Agnes: Yeah, she’s fine now. Worse than ever. But still… At least they’re back to school now, I suppose. Man, the summer holidays are so long…
Antoine: At least it looks like it might rain later. Finally wash all that summer away.
“What did you do?” Claire said.
“Nothing,” said Carolina. Carolina was a whole year older than Claire. “What did you do?”
“Nothing,” said Claire. She sat down on the piano at the front of the class room with a big discordant clang. “I never do anything wrong at all. Ever. I don’t know why I’m here at all.”
“Me neither,” said Carolina. She came over and sat down next to Claire with a smaller, higher pitched, discordant clang. “I’m the best behaved girl in the whole school and they’re all jealous.”
“I’m the best behaved girl in the whole town,” said Claire, proudly. She swung her feet back and forth and kicked the stool over.
“I’m the best behaved girl in the whole world,” said Carolina, as she swung her arms round and smacked the little pots of sunflowers off the window ledge and onto the floor.
“I’m the best behaved girl in the whole universe,” said Claire, as she jumped off the piano and stamped in all the mud they’d just spilt.
“What are you two doing in here?” the head mistress asked from the doorway.
22: Kitchen (after school)
Agnes: Look, I’m sorry everyone, I know it’s Friday, but I can’t find my purse. I think I might have left it in the cafe at the beach. Well, I hope I did, cause otherwise I don’t know where it is. So all I’ve got is… a pound. You’re going to have to share.
Claire: I don’t want to share. I got home from school first, so I should have it all to myself!
Ethel: You didn’t get home first.
Claire: I did!
Tina: We all got home together.
Claire: I rang the doorbell. That means I was first.
Ethel: We even waited for you while you were getting told off.
Claire: I wasn’t getting told off. I was getting told on!
Ethel: That’s not even a thing.
Claire: It is!
Ethel: It isn’t.
Tina: Anyway you weren’t first. Ringing the doorbell doesn’t mean anything.
Claire: If I hadn’t rung the doorbell no one would have answered the door and we’d all still be outside in the rain. We might all be DEAD!
Ethel: No we wouldn’t be.
Tina: It’s not even raining.
Claire: Not now. But it was. And I WAS first and that means I definitely should have all the money and you should all have nothing!
Agnes: None of you are having nothing. Or all of you are having nothing. It’s your choice.
Ethel: And she wasn’t first, Mum!
Tina: We were all first.
Claire: We can’t all be first. You might as well say we were all last when we all know Daniel was last because we ran ahead and left him.
Agnes: You shouldn’t run ahead and leave anyone. You’re supposed to come home together.
Claire: Well he shouldn’t have been spinning round and round on the spot and refusing to move then!
Daniel: I wasn’t spinning. I was rotating. Like the earth. Or the moon.
Claire: The moon doesn’t rotate. It just stares at us like a great big gruesome eye!
Daniel: You’re a great big gruesome eye!
Claire: I am not! And even if I was a great big gruesome eye I still got home first.
Ethel: You didn’t!
Claire: You didn’t! I did.
Ethel: She didn’t, Mum!
Claire: I did. I definitely did.
Agnes: Actually, I think I’m going to have to agree with the others here Claire. Sorry.
Claire: But Mum! I really did. No one else rings the doorbell as loudly as me. Or as long.
Agnes: I know that, Claire. It’s not that, though. It’s more the, er, philosophical nature of the debate.
Claire: The what? I was first and that’s that.
Agnes: Look, how shall I put this. Okay, as we were just talking about the moon. Who was the first person on the moon, Claire?
Claire: I don’t know. Selene?
Claire: You know, Selene. She was born on the moon.
Agnes: I see. Well, I’m not sure she could have been the first person on the moon if she was born there.
Claire: Selene’s Mum then.
Daniel: The first person on the moon was Noel Wrongson and the second person on the moon was Fuzz Buzz Buzz.
Claire: Fuzz Buzz Buzz? You’ve made that up, Daniel. Mum, Daniel made that up!
Agnes: Well it doesn’t matter what their names were, Claire. The point is that actually they were both the first person on the moon. Who the first person to step outside doesn’t matter. Because they were in the spaceship together and they’d already landed on the moon by then.
Claire: So who was the first person to step outside?
Agnes: Neil Armstrong. But that’s not the —
Claire: See! Someone’s always first and someone’s always last. And I was first and Fuzz Buzz Buzz was last and that’s that. Now where’s my pound, Mum?
1. Written in May, July and September 2022
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