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  • Hello world, I'd like you to meet Simone.

    Words are yet to be created in order to explain our relationship, our friendship, our history, our silent understanding of each other.

    I am ignoring my earlier advice and both writing and editing this whilst drinking a bottle of red; but let's carry on.

    Ken Follett once said, if you do choose to write, be prepared to get naked for all to see....or something like that. He was commenting on Fifty Shades of Grey (which he refused to read, as have I) but, his sex scene in Lie Down With Lions still remains unrivalled in my mind; but alas, what am I talking about. This story has nothing to do with sex; or maybe a little?

    Simone and I know each other since I am aware I exist. I guess that would take us back to ballet classes at Lucia's old Private School, in St Joseph; the old, French Colonial house. We were around five years old and quite opposite I might add. She may say differently but I feel I was more reserved. I cared more about my language and what people thought. Simone was, hmmm....

    Colourful

    Still is!

    We were inseparable. We did ballet together, went to the same primary school and the same secondary school. I practically lived at their house on Buena Vista Hill and by age 12, we had probably watched every PG13 and Rated R film there ever was. We recorded Janet Jackson's Nasty on Betamax and hit stop, rewind and play a million times, learning the choreography.
  • I've awakened to this view a thousand times, however back then there was only bamboo between us and the large, white light at the centre.

    Simone's parents allowed us to go through the small gate on the balcony and down the hill at the back with the Avocado tree, but we were forbidden to go through to the bamboo beyond. Bloody hell, of course we did! We stole through the fence and right through the bushes until the large tree that stood prominently at the centre of it all. I used to be scared shitless, needless to say, but Simone didn't care. I remember waking her at night because "a baby was crying outside the window". "It's the fucking bamboo, Anne. Go back to sleep."

    Bamboo cries like a baby. I'll never forget that fact.

    Now as I type this, I can hear the bamboo and smell the trumpet flowers that perfumed the air on a cool Caribbean night up on Buena Vista.

    On that same balcony, we used to "wash" the shower curtain. It was really an opportunity to run and slide across on our knees and fucking almost die a few times, skidding across the platform, off the ledge and stumbling; unable to hold yourself back and almost going over the balcony. Why are female children so crazy?

    I always ended up with a few bruises, but nothing that a coat of fresh aloe vera won't fix. If I could go to Buena Vista now, I would pull down the shower curtain and do it.

    I miss that hill sometimes. We sat there so many evenings on the swinging basket, discussing the boys at school we were crazy about, Rob Lowe and River Phoenix, how to insert a tampon, the skull with the crack that her father found, the fish in the pond, the homework we could not get out of, Aunty Vilma next door who would check our school work. You know, for two children who were as street wise as we were, we were serious about our academics!

    Then there was the turkey incident.....
  • Who would have known how much trouble ONE turkey could be.

    Seriously.

    Ok, so one day after school, Simone and I decided to walk to ballet classes. It was no longer at Lucia's and we were now in secondary school, a CONVENT to be exact and on the way down the hill, decided to venture into the open yard of a house at the bottom of the hill. Why? I can't answer that.

    There was a turkey. Like,

    the bird.

    We started making gobbling sounds and harrassing the turkey.

    They are aggressive!!!!! Oh my gosh! The turkey turned on us and it was such a scene because not only did it chase us out of the yard but continued to chase us along the Eastern Main Road, from St. Joseph, to half way across the bridge into Curepe! You know, toward the bush where the freak used to expose himself to school girls.

    Two Convent girls, running from a turkey on the Main Road.

    Simone, how? Why? Hahahahaha!

    I recall also looking through the wooden fence of the same yard and seeing a pair of scissors stuck in a tree and candles and all kinds of simidimee (voodoo). My life is so prim and proper now, who would sit across from me in the staff canteen and have an inkling of my life?

    No one, unless I tell it here.
  • I knew the moment that Simone and I would be friends for life. Sounds cheesy but hey, it is what it is.

    I was always staying at hers and she, never at mine.

    The truth is, I lived in the oldest house on my street and I was embarassed to bring anyone home. Simone had a lovely home. I used to lie and tell my friends that I lived in the house next door.

    Simone got her mother to call my mother and ask if she could spend the weekend.

    FUCK.

    It was the longest half mile I ever walked in my life from the Main Road to my home. I said,

    "Simone, I have something serious to tell you..."

    She guessed all kinds of shit. Was I no longer a virgin? Was I pregnant? Did I have an abortion?

    I had to tell her. We were ten minutes from my home.

    "You know the house I say I live in? Well, I don't actually live there. I live in the house next door."

    I thought I would die.

    You know what she said?

    " I know."

    And that was that.
  • It's hard to believe that we now have 5 children between us. They don't understand us, because we have not changed.

    There was a time of separation and I missed Simone. I got pregnant at 16 and she went off to university in England. Our priorities had changed but I always thought of her.

    We lost touch for a few years and one day I called her mother. How was Simone? I didn't have a contact for her.

    "Funny you should call today, Anne, because Simone is flying in this evening and I was just getting ready to collect her from the airport."

    "Aunty Joan, I will go get her."

    And so I got into my car and drove to Piarco and there was Simone waiting at the pick up point.

    I saw the excitement when I beeped my horn and she realised it was me but because of the length of time we had been separated, as quickly as she stepped forward in anticipation, is as quickly as she stepped back in apprehension.

    I said, " I am here for you."

    We never looked back after that. When I moved to the UK, we worked at the same theatre, lived in Brixton in the same room for a while, got angry with her when we ate lentils and farted under the duvet. "Oh, it's not gonna smell if we keep the duvet locked down." Arghhhhh! Whatever, Ally McBeal is on.

    When "Marcus Sparcus" broke her heart and Simone returned to Trinidad, I got married and we vowed never to allow distance to separate us again. I was now the one in the UK and she in the Caribbean. Life continued and I saw her each time I visited home.

    I fell pregnant with my last child and she said, "Just call me when you have the baby and I will come visit you."

    "You'll be the first person I call, Simone." I responded.

    And so, the moment the epidural wore off a bit, I still had pins and needles, I dragged myself across the hospital room and called her from the payphone on the ward.

    "Simone! I just had a baby boy!"

    "When?"

    "Two hours ago?" I commented.

    " What the fuck. Go back to your bed,. I will come and see you, woman."

    Do you know, Simone hung up the phone and went straight out and bought a plane ticket for a 9 hour flight and was in my sitting room two days later?!

    I love you, Simone. It's been more than 35 years. I love you like nothing else I've known.
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