The reunion had been a bad idea from the start. We were never a happy band of chums. Girls schools are always a haven of bitchiness. The weak go to the wall as they say. You get tough or you get mown down with the rest of the compost, the weeds that are never allowed to grow.
Teenage girls can be brutal. It is relentless, God knows what it is like these days when the bullies are online. They can come into your home any time they choose.
In my day you were safe when the front door shut. You just lived in the certain knowledge that it was all going to start again tomorrow. At least you got some sort of a break from it.
A gang of cats will chase a mouse. They won't kill it, there is much more fun to be had in letting it go. Just when it thinks the world is safe you start all over again. The bullies were at the bar. Forty years older, plumper and shop worn but still the same little posse of witches.
Bitching in the classroom had transferred to bitching in the office and back to the playground again when they picked up their own offspring.
I saw her sitting quietly, she was older but still the same tiny figure. She saw me and something flickered across her face. Something I had seen before many years ago. I got up and walked over and I sat down.
"Remember me I said." She nodded. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry I told her." "We made your life hell didn't we?" "Yes" she said "you did." She still had a trace of a stammer.
"I have never been more ashamed of myself" I said "I wasn't even a proper bully, I was worse, a hanger on without the bottle to do it properly. A nasty little sheep following the satanic herd over there." I nodded toward the bar.
"It's ok" she said. " "I forgive you. You weren't the worst by a long chalk and I learned a lot from the experience." "Thanks" I said "but I don't think I deserve your forgiveness." “No matter what we did, you kept coming back for more.” “I wanted to teach”
"Don't beat yourself up too much" she said "it was my first job and I was as green as grass." "I'm pleased that one of you had the guts to apologise, I didn't expect it to be honest." I told her that I had been there myself just four years after we had run her ragged.
She smiled "The life of a newly qualified teacher is no bed of roses is it?" I said "no it certainly wasn't." I asked if she fancied a drink somewhere else, because once the girls got enough gin down them it was going to get lively. "Why not she said, my husband isn't picking me up until eleven."
I admired her. She was strong. A tiny mouse who simply refused to be beaten by a gang of cats.