I never imagined that he’d recognise me. Running away would have been to obvious, so my plan was to keep walking and completely ignore him. Just another face on the street.
He was still walking towards me. I put my head down and kept going. One foot then another foot. I was determined not to look up as we passed each other. It would all be over in a few seconds.
We were directly in front of each other. I was concentrating on my feet.
He stopped. “Hey!” he exclaimed. “I know you don’t I?”
The sensible thing would have been to assume he was talking to someone else and keep walking. But of course I didn’t. I stopped walking and looked up. It was definitely him. He wasn’t good-looking, but he’d had this charm that the cool kids had adored, and he’d always been great at sports, so he he’d been something of a hero at my school for those who appreciated that kinds of talent. He’d never been super clever, and he had never been the model student, but he’d been popular, which is what had counted in the minds of most of the kids.
I nodded mutely.
“I thought it was you,” he leered. “The little girl with the big,” he paused, “future.”
I hadn’t heard that phrase for years. It was something Mick and his cronies had heard one of the tradesmen say about me and had found it so amusing they’d made the saying their own.
I was mortified. Of all the things he could have said, he chose something that was only ever going to bring all of the torment that he and his mates had inflicted on me flooding back. I felt sick.
I stared dumbly. I hadn’t said anything. It wasn’t too late to acknowledge him with the briefest of nods and keep walking.
But I didn’t.