The phone rings on the way to school pick-up. Annabel takes the call, even though she’s almost outside the school and the conversation will have to be a short one.
‘What happened to marine biology?’ Grace’s voice fills the car.
‘Our school yearbook. Apparently, you were going to be a marine biologist!’
‘I was?’ Annabel is astounded. She has no recollection of this.
‘It’s here in black and white.’
Annabel flicks on her indicator and pulls into a space that isn’t quite big enough. ‘Why are you looking at the stupid old thing anyway? Aren’t your kids keeping you busy enough?’ Grace, like Annabel, is a stay-at-home mum. She has four children, all quite close in age. The strange thing is, she was never the maternal type.
‘Katy Buckley wants to do an updated yearbook,’ Grace explains. ‘For the reunion.’
Katy Buckley. Plain and studious. Perennially mocked for being such a try-hard. Annabel feels a rush of that old derision, its resurgence taking her by surprise. ‘Oh, for God’s sake. What’s wrong with just rocking up on the night, getting drunk and making fools of ourselves on the dance floor? Who the f--- cares about yearbooks?’
‘It’s because Katy’s a teacher. She’s still caught up in that world. Where things like yearbooks actually matter… Having said that, I think it’s a rather good idea…’
‘And what did Katy Buckley want to be when she left school?’ Annabel can hear Grace turn the pages of the book.
‘President of the Wilderness Society.’ Both women burst into laughter.
Explosive, unstoppable laughter that reminds Annabel of when they were younger, and half the time didn’t even know what they were laughing about.
The school bell rings, the sound carrying through the open windows of Annabel’s car, bringing a distinct feeling of nostalgia. Some children, the quick ones, are already flying through the gates. The ones to whom being first means everything.
Their darting eyes able to establish where queues will be formed and their agile bodies manoeuvring so they’re always at the front. Annabel used to be one of those kids.
The email arrives a couple of days later.
Subject: Updated Yearbook
Annabel clicks on it without much thought. The first thing she sees is a grainy, unflattering photo of herself. Directly below there’s text typed in an old-fashioned font.
Name: Annabel Harris (née Moore) Highest achievement at school: School captain.
What you do now: Stay-at-home mother. Highlights of last 20 years: Nothing remarkable.
Peaked at school. Lowlights: Finding out your son smokes dope. Initially not telling your husband.
Deepest fears: That weed is a gateway drug for Daniel.
Her first reaction is horror, to the point where she actually feels sick. Then she recovers herself. This is someone’s idea of a joke. The cruellest, most despicable joke. The kind of thing they’d have done 20 years ago, back when they’d time to waste, unlimited imagination, and the lines between humour and outright nastiness were blurred.
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