'Defining Moments' by Isobel Harwood - Aged 12
Listen to Isobel Harwood's story 'Defining Moments' read by the BBC Radio Drama Company.
'Defining Moments' by Isobel Harwood
"Where art thou Lady Guinevere?" ...
Oh no! I don't deserve this, do I? I sighed nervously, ragged breaths following, my second week of high school about to implode! As I turned, I saw Peter, missing his old knight costume, but beautifully improvised with a paper crown and branch sword. He was surrounded by a group of smirking teens, shooting names and sarcastic arrows. Peter didn't notice! Not really! He was too absorbed, possessed by his latest role. 'King Arthur's' face lit up. "Guinevere! My lady, I have returned!" I twisted my neck as if on some jarring cog, scanning behind me, praying for escape! ...
I was four! Peter and his parents moved into the flat above and straight away, young as I was, I knew something wasn't quite normal! Maybe it was the way his room was full of astronaut gear. Not your usual Buzz Lightyear plastic stuff; no, this was collector's dream, real deal NASA in the room above me! Maybe it was the way he spoke about space, a knowing far-off glimmer in his eye! When we weren't playing 'moon landings', we were building 'teleporters' only his were always a bit more elaborate than mine, real wires connecting, lighting up. My cereal boxes and three inches of sellotape security never quite matched up! But we were little; it didn't matter! Peter was the most fun ever, knowing everything about everything, really! He didn't like to be touched! He didn't like me to move things in his room, not from their places, their carefully catalogued places! But we were little; it didn't matter. Peter was still the most fun ever!
When we started school, it was fine, but as we got older, some of the kids thought Peter was a bit strange. They didn't understand him like I did; they didn't take the time. By Year 2 we had been champions of the Wild West, Da Vinci's apprentices and soldiers of WWI. I closed my eyes and listened to him as he became my talking history book, transporting us to another time and place. I could almost see the smoke of the tepees, smell the oil on the canvas and hear the guns in my ears. We were the champions of the playground, Peter and I.
Yet this summer, the summer marking the end of our primary years, saw Peter off to relatives in Ireland. Peter's parents had set me the task of easing the change and so we had thrown ourselves into Camelot; Peter was to go on a quest across the water, leaving his kingdom and his Guinevere to wait anxiously for his safe return. He caught chicken-pox and was 3 weeks late! 'Guinevere', meanwhile, met Katie and Alice and was on the way to 'populardom' before term began. They talked hair, boys, boys ... boys! ...
There was no escape! Smug faces beckoned, sneering, pitying! Defining, pivotal moment ... I knelt. "My Lord!" I grinned! Peter was still the most fun, ever!