The grass sort of tickles. It’s long, but it’s not too long yknow? It feels like one of those scratchy jumpers that you read about people’s grandparents buying them in books, except it’s cool and damp and it’s got this springy sort of texture so you can tell it’s a living organism. The park is almost empty at this point in the evening, the slight chill of a British summer evening is setting in, and it’s just groups of teenagers left, mortgaging their futures for bullshit conversations and tingles of electricity while they think about fucking each other. Tom bought some bottles of Strongbow along and we have some weed left from Jon’s house last weekend. I don’t know how to roll a decent joint yet so I let Tom’s younger brother do the honours. We’ve moved from our spot by the swings to a more secluded spot by the thick hedge that separates the park from the cricket pitch. We left our bags on the spongy black squares by the zipwire but it’s fine because we can still just about see them and all they contain is schoolwork and schoolties.
I look around and see the younger kids packing up their stuff. It’s gone 6 so it’s time to get the train home and tell their parents that cricket practice, Young Enterprise, whatever-bullshit-excuse was really great but they’re looking forward to sausages for tea. About half a mile away the after school maths class I’m supposed to be in is probably learning about something mathematical (what do I know, I’m not in the class) and I figure I’ve got a good hour before it’s time to get the train and tell my mum I’m sick of having sausages for tea.
Joe finishes rolling and we pass it round the group. By the time it reaches me the thin Rizla cardboard is soggy and I can’t get a solid toke because the roach collapses every time I put it in my mouth. When I pass it on I pick the strands of paper off my lips. Everyone’s laughing and we stay here for an hour or so before we realise we can’t see our bags in the dark. Val asks what time it is and it’s like someone has opened the box to check if the cat’s alive or dead. It’s better not to know. I consider sticking around and calling home but the orange hue from a few hours ago is now just an aggressive blue and I’m pretty chilly.
There were four of us – five of us? – and it was the summer before the lips and skin and blood really got in the way and we all split. It was the sort of night that you wouldn’t remember, but it was the sort of night you could never forget. A British summer.