Broken Heart Club
It’s a Friday afternoon in late July, the summer after Year Six, and Andie and I are scrabbling about in the drizzle, wrestling with the canvas of the big old bell tent and giggling too much to actually get anywhere. Ryan from next door comes over to put up his little pop-up one-man tent and we drag him in to help, but that makes things worse because Andie is too busy flirting to take much notice of ropes and canvas. In the end Ryan goes home and Andie’s dad has to untangle the mess and help us put the tent up properly.
It’s Andie’s eleventh birthday, and we’ve planned a sleepover party, a garden camp-out for the Heart Club. It’s also a bit of a farewell thing, because Tasha and her family are moving to France in ten days time and Hasmita will be going to a different secondary school after the holidays.
Tomorrow Andie and her family are going to Scotland for a week’s holiday, so even if Tasha’s family are still here by the time she gets back, it could be the last time we all get together properly. I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach at the idea of us being parted.
We all know that things are changing, and none of us like it.
‘It’s got to be a sleepover to remember, Eden!’ Andie says, peering out at me from under her anorak hood. ‘It’s got to be special!’
‘It will be.’ I promise, because our sleepovers always are and who cares if the TV says this is the wettest summer we’ve had in forty years? A bit of rain can’t stop the Heart Club from having fun. We spread bright rugs, pillows and blankets inside the bell tent, hang battery-powered fairy lights around the inside, make raggedy bunting to liven up the inside of the tent by tying endless strips of bright fabric scraps on to the strings of fairy light. They look beautiful, in a frayed and slightly frantic way.
‘OK,’ Andie declares at last. ‘It’s my birthday, and I reckon we’ve earned cake. C’mon, Eden, let’s go get ready – the others will be here soon!’
We head for Andie’s bedroom, a tiny box room painted sunshine yellow and papered with boy band posters and bright, manga style paintings she’s done herself. Andie’s mum is saving the birthday cake for later when Hasmita, Tasha and Ryan arrive for the sleepover, but she’s given us jam tarts and cheese on toast, and Andie ramps the music up to full volume to get us in the mood.
‘I think I’m in love,’ Andie says, throwing her arms wide. ‘Ryan Kelly. Who knew?’
‘Isn’t it a bit awkward falling in love with one of your best friends?’ I ask.
‘It’s awesome, because we’ve known each other forever,’ she says. ‘We already love each other in a friend-ish way, I just have get Ryan to see I’m not just the girl-next-door. Imagine . . . all this time and I’ve only just noticed how cute he is!’
I smile, but I know my ears have gone pink and I hope Andie doesn’t notice.
‘Tonight could be the night,’ Andie sighs. ‘He might say something – make a move. Or maybe I will! What d’you think?’
‘Cool . . . why not?’ I say, even though it’s not cool and I can think of a million reasons why not. It doesn’t matter, though; I don’t think Andie will do anything more than flutter her eyelashes at Ryan. She’s eleven; she’s not ready for romance yet – any more than I am.
For me, friendship comes first anyway; I think it always will.
I reach into my sleepover rucksack, pull out a little parcel wrapped in gold tissue paper and tied with red raffia, and hold it out to Andie.
‘Just wanted to give you this before the others get here,’ I say, grinning. ‘Happy Birthday, Andie!’
‘Oooh! What is it? It’s tiny . . . but heavy!’
She peels the tissue paper back and lifts out a little silver heart pendant, the kind that breaks in two so that two best friends can share. Her face lights up with glee, and she holds one half of the heart pendant out to me.
‘Wow! I’ve always wanted one of these!’ she exclaims.
‘Thank you. A friendship locket, right? One half for me and one for you, because you are the best, best friend ever, Eden Banks. I love you loads, and I’ll always be there for you, promise!’
I believe her. Andie has always been there for me, even through this past year. My parents split up, and I don’t think I could have got through it without Andie’s support.
‘Any word from your dad?’ she asks, as if reading my mind.
‘Nothing,’ I tell her. ‘I think he’s forgotten me.’
‘Oh, Eden,’ Andie says. ‘As if anyone could ever do that!’ She puts on her half of the heart pendant while I put on mine, and then she flings her arms around me and hugs me tight, laughing, and I can smell the vanilla scent of her shower gel all mixed up with the aroma of strawberry jam and cheese on toast.
‘I love my pressie,’ she tells me. ‘I’m going to wear it always. Awww . . . tonight is going to be epic!’
WANT MORE? BROKEN HEART CLUB WILL BE RELEASED INTO THE WILD ON 21st APRIL 2016!