My Best Friend Simon

by Andrew Passey

Chapter 1

"Jamie! Simon is on the phone!" My Mum shouted up to me as I lay on my bed reading a book. Well I guess I was daydreaming really but the knowledge my best friend was on the phone roused me from it and I ran downstairs.

"Hello mate, what's up?" I asked as I picked up the receiver.

"Just checking you're ready for tomorrow?" Simon's voice came across the crackly phone line.

"Yeah of course, you? Still good to walk together?"

"Of course mate, safety in numbers. I'll knock at 8.15," He said, then hung up after saying goodbye.

It was a big day tomorrow and I was glad Simon would be with me. My best friend in the world. We were thick as thieves, born in the same hospital within a couple of days of each other. We grew up together and we were closer than brothers. We'd become blood brothers when we were 10, gently cutting into our thumbs and pressing them together. I couldn't remember a time when Simon wasn't in my life. We went to nursery together. We started primary school together where we we became best friends. We'd sleepover at each other's houses all the time and now we were due to start secondary school together. Another big life adventure to take together. I always felt that as long as Simon was with me everything would be ok.

Our mum's were best friends too which just made our lives intertwine even more. They'd socialise together all the time. Sometimes out in town, other times at my house or Simon's house. They both loved the fact we were best friends. I think they saw it as an extension of their friendship together.

Although Simon and I were close and so were our Mums, our home lives were pretty different. Certainly from an income perspective anyway! Simon had a big lovely house. He had a younger brother. He had a father who I really liked who was great fun and thanks to his job as a bank manager they all got to go on foreign holidays. I just lived alone at home with my Mum. No siblings. My dad had left soon after I was born and we'd never heard from him again. He'd flitted into my Mum's life then out of both of our lives. I can't deny it hurt and I use to daydream that he'd come back and take an interest but I knew that was unlikely. Whether he even knew we existed anymore was something I didn't know. He certainly didn't financially contribute or send any letters or cards.

So we were a single parent family. Understandably money was tight and we lived a pretty tight lifestyle financially. My Mum worked hard as a nurse to make sure we could afford to eat and friends with older siblings would often pass clothes on to me. Simon's family would help out as well, subtly sometimes, more overt others. I know his Mum was more than happy to support me but my Mum sometimes got uncomfortable by that. It was fine. I was pretty much past the point of being embarrassed by our lack of money and wearing hand me downs. However I did know it was currency that the bullies at school would like to spend if they found out about it.

This was just one more thing that made me nervous about going to secondary school. I'd be leaving the security of the primary school where I'd been for years. Where I was in the oldest class and used to everything. I knew how it all worked. Now I'd be in the youngest class, starting at the bottom all over again. I knew it probably wouldn't be as bad as I feared but when you're 11 years old everything new seemed scary. There were three secondary schools in our fairly small town and I was going to the middling one. Not the dodgy one, but not the posher one. I was fine with that though. The posh school had loads of rules that sounded a bit stuffy to me. Still, it was a big step starting big school and I was fairly nervous. Would the teachers be strict? Would the other kids be nice? Would I get bullied? The questions whirred around my head, keeping me awake much later than I wanted. Eventually I fell asleep. Whatever the next day brought I would cope. I'd have Simon with me after all and when he was there everything always seemed ok.

The next morning I got up early, feeling nervous. I showered and got dressed into my school uniform. I looked into the mirror staring at my reflection. I hoped I'd look more grown up but I looked like what I was. A nervous 11 year old wearing a school uniform that was slightly too big for him.

"You'll grow into it!".Sometimes that felt like the story of my life. My Mum always said that and you never know, maybe one day I actually would be wearing trousers that fit! Mum was really proud though. Well she said she was anyway. I'm not quite sure why? I hadn't actually done anything apart from reach the age old enough to go to secondary school! She was happy though and I could see her eyes were glistening with tears. God, women were weird and Mum's in particular!

She took photos of me in my uniform and of Simon when he turned up. First individually then with our arms around each other. He grinned at me when we were done. "Looking sharp Jamie!" He lied. His uniform definitely seemed to fit him better than mine fit me! But I didn't care, we were together and as we walked to school I knew it would all be ok.

We were clearly both nervous as we approached the school. However knowing we were in the same form and that we had Rob and Tim a couple of other friends from our primary school also in the same form as us helped. Simon was also the golden boy, everyone loved him it seemed. The teachers at primary school. Seemingly every adult who had anything to do with him. The girls. The boys all wanted to be his friend. With his easy manner and his blond hair and blue eyes he was definitely a looker. He had always been popular. My mousey brown hair and I guess less handsome face as well as my at times slightly combative personality made me not as popular. Still, being best mates with Simon helped me ride along his coattails and gain some friends of his as well!

"Which of us will get our heads flushed down the toilet first do you think?" Simon asked me as we walked through the park on our way to school. It wasn't a short walk but it was a nice sunny morning and the warmth of the day ahead coupled with the green of the park and the distant trees lifted my spirits.

"Surely that's just all bollocks made up to scare kids?" I asked hopefully.

"Who knows!? Some of the stories I've heard make that seem tame!" He said. I think he was trying to wind me up. I wasn't going to let him do that.

"You said it yourself Si, stories. Not facts. Stories. Am sure it'll be fine, and if not, well your slightly spiky hair will make a nice bog brush for someone's toilet,". I giggled as I said that, reckoning I'd won for now. As we got closer to school Simon stopped me. He put his hand on my arm so I looked at him.

He stared intently at me, looking into my eyes with his big blue ones.

"Whatever happens Jamie, I've got your back. You're my best mate and I'll look after you." He said seriously.

I smiled back, "phew, thought you were going to kiss me for a moment! Likewise, you'll always be my best mate and we've always got each other's backs. Now let's go and show the school how lucky they are for us to be going there!" I said with a grin.

Simon beamed back at me and we walked up the road towards the gates, starting our new adventure...

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