Here's a small taste of Celebrating Me
Copyright © 2014 Colleen M.Wint All Rights Reserved
It was uncomfortably hot. You could see the heat shimmering just above the pavement. The sun slipped through the leaves of the big mango tree like oil on a hot saucepan. In the dusty schoolyard, even the occasional breeze that stirred up the dry mango leaves didn’t help. It was a typical June afternoon in the Caribbean, and the students of St. Margaret’s Primary School were darting all around the schoolyard despite the oppressive heat. It wasn’t a typical afternoon for them. They were more excited and exuberant than usual because it was nearly the end of the school year.
A white taxi pulled up outside the gates of the playground. Gillian Samuels recognised it and sighed. I wish Mummy or Daddy could pick me up from school sometimes, or let me take the bus! I hate being the only student who gets picked up by a taxi for them to drive from the city, but she still felt conspicuous in the taxi. Gillian grabbed her friend Natasha Anderson and rushed towards the taxi. Natasha was happy to go home in the taxi rather than sweating in the sun at the bus stop. The girls loaded their backpacks and then jumped in the backseat. Gillian immediately took a drink from her water bottle, trying to look unconcerned about driving in the taxi. To cover up her feelings, she stuck her head out the open window and boisterously called to their friend Tina, “Call me tonight!” as the taxi started to drive off.
Tina was sitting on the bench under the mango tree, packing up her bag to head for the bustop. She gave an exaggerated wave, and, nodding her head, she pointed to her left wrist as if to ask, “What time?” The car was moving off, whipping up more dust on the narrow driveway.
“Before eight thirty!” Gillian shouted, as the taxi turned away from the school gate.
“Stop your noise nuh, Gillian!” scolded Natasha in a hushed voice as she pulled her friend back inside the car. The two girls giggled as Mr. T, the driver, gave them a disapproving look in his rear- view mirror, wound up all the windows and turned on the air conditioner.
Gillian and Natasha lived on the same street in the small community of Valentine Gardens. They had known each other from they were five years old, but it was only when Natasha moved to St. Margaret’s in September that they became friends. Natasha became known as the “fourth Musketeer” because Gillian, Tina, and another girl they called “C. C.” had been known as the “three musketeers” since they were in grade two.
It was nearly the end of term, the end of the school year, and the end of grade six. Exams were over, and they had all done well. In September the four girls would all be going to high school in the capital, St. Lawrence. They were thrilled they would be able to stay together at the new school, but for now, all they and the other children at school could think about was the annual end-of-year barbecue. Everyone was in high spirits, and they were busy with the preparations. Tables and chairs had arrived, all the food for the barbecue was being prepared, and the PTA had nearly sold out all the tickets.
This year, there would be a fashion show with top models from St. Lawrence, and so a special stage was being built. One of the island’s popular radio hosts, DJ Ramon, was the MC, and he had been promoting the barbecue on his radio programme for the past few weeks. Best of all, one of the island’s most popular bands, Off The Rocker, or OTR, was going to perform. There had never been a live band at a school barbecue, and so this year, the girls’ last year at St. Margaret’s, the barbecue seemed even more special. All the girls had a crush on the lead singer, Benji, and the boys all wanted to dress and dance like him.
The students and their parents had been busy since midterm, selling tickets and bringing in plates, cups, chicken, rice, and provisions for salad and desserts. Miss Hargreaves, the art teacher, and some of the grade six students had been working on a beautiful backdrop for the stage. Everyone had helped in one way or another to get the best for this year’s barbecue. They were trying to raise enough money to help renovate the school canteen that had been damaged in the hurricane the year before. Everyone was feeling the high spirits—it was really going to be a great barbecue this year!