They call themselves friends, but they’re not really. They flit in and out her life like sandflies, nipping at her ankles, a warning to others who might like to approach. They slouch with their arms draped around her, passing the microphone around like a joint.
‘I was there when you found out Jagerbombs and parkour didn’t mix like you and I.’
‘Do you remember when we got lost in King’s Cross and that guy tried to sell us tickets to the moon?’
I march up to the front, where she sits slumped underneath her birthday banner, smiling at me, blitzed out of her brain. I snatch the mic from the glitter-smeared gnat clutching it.
‘I was there when you pissed your pants in year 3 science class when the volcano exploded, and I’ll be there when you OD.’
A rush of silence dislodges her smile, and I see her again as she was: scared, alone, and desperate for a companion on her descent into oblivion. And then one of the sandflies hands her a drink, near pours it down her throat, and she continues her disappearing act before my eyes.