Plastic flower-shaped plates balanced on our knobbly knees. His was orange, mine was pink. Blades of grass tickled us between our toes, socks and shoes abandoned at the bottom of the garden. The same tree had marked our legs in different places, him down his right shin, me behind my knees. He’d saved me from the dragon that had me hanging upside down.
We had our favourite, a picnic lunch. Thin pink ham cut into squares, the perfect size for sandwiching between two cheesy biscuits. Little wheels of white cheese in waxy red shells that we’d warm between our palms and shape into miniature faces, sticking our nails in to carve smiles. Apple slices with the skins peeled off, chocolate spread for dipping, congealed on the sides of the plates where my mum had scraped it off the knife. Hoop shaped crisps crunched as we bit them from our fingertips.
Leaves stuck out from his curls, my plaits were laced with daisies. We rolled our eyes as our mums’ giggles and shrieks carried towards us, fantasising about our wedding from the garden table. That was still yucky back then. Our hands only joined to haul each other over streams or down from fallen logs. He was my knight in shining armour, but it was only pretend.
As we grew he still saved me from my tower, every time I asked, and when I didn’t. We still had picnic lunches, chipped hand-me-down plates balancing on our knees, various rugs tickling us between our toes. He peeled the apples, I cut the ham. Life marked him in many places.
I should have noticed he was hanging upside down, but I didn’t. It was always him who did the saving.