Derek was my best friend in elementary school. I loved Derek. He looked like the in-the-flesh version of the Claymation Davey character on the “Davey and Goliath” show. He had a painted tin lunch box shaped like a barn, with a door that really opened. It had thermos inside that was shaped like a silo. I always thought the milk in it would taste like tin and grass, but it didn’t because I drank some once. I took the thermos out of his cubby hole one day when he peed his pants and was in the bathroom changing. The milk just tasted warm and thick. I drank it all.
Derek and I walked to school together and were in the same class up until grade six. He was my best friend. I had other friends, girls even, but they were always floating in my periphery. Derek was the center of my universe and we did everything together. His hand brushed against mine once when we were hiding from his brother in the garage. It was warm and wet from nervous sweat, and felt like bread dough. Even when my parents didn’t like each other anymore Derek was the one constant I had. I would always like him and he would always like me.
When we were in grade five, a 12 year old mean boy named Jason asked Derek why he was my friend. We were on the bus, on our way to school.
“Why do you play with her?” he asked.
“Easy,” Derek answered. “Her Grandpa gives me chips.” The two boys laughed.
One day Jason’s mother left him with his grandparents when she met a man with a big motorcycle. It had flames on it that matched the tattoo on his arm. She drove away with him and never came back. Right then, on the bus, I didn’t blame her.
Derek moved back to England with his parents the next year. His mom wanted to go back home, so his father transferred back there. They weren’t home 6 months when we heard she had killed herself.
I don’t really like chips anymore.