I ended up one day on the side of the road with half a shoelace missing and a gash that made me look like I had just had a cleft lip fixed. There was a girl beside me, with tussled brown curls bunched up around her head. I reached out to stroke a lose strand back into place and her eyes opened, catching my hand.
"What are you trying?" Her head rested on the pavement, with her legs dangling off the curb.
"I don't want you to get a hair strand tan."
She laughed and put the piece of hair behind her ear herself. She dragged her body upwards, leaving her legs off the curb.
"Well are you gonna say good morning Adam?"
"It's a nice morning aye." She spread her legs, causing her skirt to rise higher up her thigh. She looked down, as if noticing it, but then lifted her head up.
"You look a bit worse for wear." She touched the gash above me lip and I winced, not expecting the speck of pain.
She smiled. "You're a charmer. Those mornings where you wake up and you don't even know whether you're upside down or right side up aren't the brightest."
"It's the morning?"
She laughed. "I guess it's one of those mornings for you then."
"I slept on the sidewalk?"
"Yeah." She stood up, pulling her skirt down as she did so and offered me a hand.
"Let's get you home."
I took it and heaved myself up, cringing at the pain in my head. For a moment I wobbled, my legs sore from the bent position I had slept in. I grasped at her arm and she held me steady. For some reason, the idea of a girl supporting me didn't bother me.
In a moment when I had regained my composure I let go and we began walking. I knew I wasn't far from home, only down a couple of streets and past the park.
"You have fun last night?" She asked.
"Yeah." I was going to ask her if she did, but then I realised I had no memory of her being there and thought it was absurd to think that she would've been.
"You get into a fight?" She said it slowly, as if from now on words needed to be chosen carefully.
"Then you better have a good excuse."
"Ben threw a punch at Keith and he ducked, I was right behind him."
She nodded, approving the excuse.
"That'll do you."
We passed the park and I stopped, looking at the swings.
She looked back, a few paces ahead.
"What you thinking about?"
"I wanted to be a child again, I wanted to play on the swings. I guess I didn't make it that far."
She flicked her head towards them. "Wanna go now?"
"Well too bad then, you'll have to wait whilst I do." She jogged off and I followed her ambling.
She sat on the swing and pushed off, going back and forth, gaining more force each time her feet pushed against the ground.
I sat on the swing next to her to rest, looking my arms around the chains. I didn't notice her get off until she was behind me, putting her weight into my body and erupting my forward. I grabbed onto the chains and when I swung back she was there again, pushing me higher.
I chuckled and then laughed and when I next came back I pushed off from the ground myself.
She went back to her swing and started up, and soon we were both going as high as we could, back and forth, back and forth, roaring laughter into the world. The air was fervent, the laughter was high and for a moment, everything else that had happened between childhood and now was forgotten.
I began to slow down, my breathing deep and heavy. She followed suit and soon we had both stopped, bent over with shallow breaths. My heart beat fast and I laughed again.
"Just like childhood aye?" She said.
We got off the swings and continued on our way, past the last street and gratefully to home. We walked right up the drive and looked at me.
"You got a key?"
"Nope. I'll go round the back." I jumped over the low hedge through the small side path. Going into the laundry I pulled a key from a cup under the sink and opened the back door. I could see her waiting through the window. I let her in and she closed the door behind her.
"You owe me some money now." I said.
"Money for what?"
"Remember, you said every time I opened the door for you you'd give me five cents."
She smiled and put her arm around my shoulders.
"You know there's something that you didn't know about when we made that deal ten years ago."
"Sisters never keep their promises."