Mole and turtle and my love in your pocket

I folded it up really small and I pinned it inside your pocket with a safety pin.  Sometimes I wonder if it was just so small that you never felt it there and that, maybe, one day, you just stopped wearing that jacket and off it went to the Oxfam shop with my love undiscovered. Maybe some other girl is rubbing that tiny, gold safety pin and wondering what the little white square of fabric might be.  And she’s picking it open with seven year-old fingers and looking at my hopeless drawing of a mole and a turtle drinking tea.  I don’t really mind if she is.  As long as somewhere, aged twenty, you have a vague memory of that day.

It was raining when we woke up – the sort of rain that flows down the windows.  We’d done Scooby Doo and four jigsaws and hopscotch in the hallway.  We’d done very grumpy baking and shouting at each other through the bathroom door.  We’d done making it up with hot chocolate.  And you said to me,

‘If a mole and a turtle had tea together, what would they eat?’

It was worm and fish sandwiches – you decided.  And I said if it was a tea party then they had cups and saucers and the mole would make little tinking noises with his claws on the china.  And the turtle might have a sort of beak and he’d need to be careful.  And you said they were friends.  They were the best friends ever.  You made the sandwiches with wonky squares you cut out of yellow paper.  We put pipe cleaners inside to be worms.  I decided we would use felt for the fishes and you gave me one of those tight, spontaneous hugs because I was playing – really playing and enjoying it.

When your mummy came home she laughed.  I had these spikes of paper sellotaped on my fingernails to be claws.  You had the laundry basket over your back as a shell.  The floor was littered with pipe cleaners.  We were sipping pretend tea out of sagging, plasticine cups.  I was talking with a west country accent (moles being yokels) and you were doing your best attempt at posh (turtles being like queens, apparently) and I hadn’t even thought about the need to make real food for you.

If you remember that day, then I suppose there’s no way you’ve forgotten the other one, is there?  I found your missing mitten down the back of the radiator.  She was pressing your jeans into the top of the holdall and forcing the zip.  It looked like it would rip.  I bought you a Beano at the newsstand at the coach station.  I waved as you pulled away but you were fiddling with your seatbelt.  I saw her push your jacket onto the shelf above the seats and I wondered if I should’ve told someone – one of you at least – that I’d pinned my love in your pocket.

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