by Dave Early
Oh my god, oh my god. My badge. I’ve lost my badge.
Palpitations. Dizziness. Nausea.
The other two carried on walking, chatting away as if nothing was wrong.
No. No. No. My badge. It’s my badge.
My hands darted from pocket to pocket, before they came to rest atop my head, my fingers tightly laced in my hair.
Mentally retrace our steps. Yes, stay calm and perfunctory. Okay. Deep breath. Well, we’d been across…, and then of course through…, up and down…, oh Christ! We’d covered almost every inch of the town. (As we routinely did on a Saturday.)
“Come on.” Harry called over his shoulder.
My badge. I’ve lost my badge. Oh my god. Oh my god.
“Will you stop going on about your bloody badge.”
How callous. How conceited. How cruel they were.
When Pete had lost his girlfriend we were all so nice to him, consoling, considerate and caring. Likewise when Harry lost his mum.
How selfish they were.
My badge means to them as much as Pete’s girlfriend and Harry’s mum had meant to me but I was still the dutiful friend. And I’d had my badge for longer than Pete had had his girlfriend. Though not as long as Harry had known his mum.
“You can buy a new one.”
Did they not understand? That would be a new one. Not the same one.
The badge had left. Deserted me. It had leapt from my coat lapel in search of something new, something better. I would never be the same again.
Several weeks later, I passed a boy with a knapsack on his back. On the knapsack, as plain as life, was my badge. Not one like it, but the exact same one.
I imagined him discovering it, picking it up with his fingers. Polishing it with his breath. Fastening it to the knapsack, where it shone happily. I’d thought it would always be happiest on a lapel. I guess I was wrong.
This was no longer my badge. I didn’t recognise it. In fact the very sight of it churned my stomach.
Dave Early cannot be put into one sentence; one word perhaps, but not one sentence.