That Picture

509 words

That Picture

There were no mobile phones then, no selfies and no spiteful people to pass on pictures they should have trashed. Her cousin had taken the picture while they were on holiday and she had taken it to school to show her friends. Then it had arrived on the edge of her desk.

She had known that there was something good being passed around. You always knew when someone had got hold of something good. Whenever the teacher turned around, to write on the board perhaps, or just to look out of the window for a moment, she could see something making its way gradually towards her.

One of the boys was sitting behind her, in the corner of the class room where they would be last to see what it was. At the front of the next row of desks Tara had got it hidden behind her book so the teacher could not see it. The girl turned and looked along the row of desks towards her, then turned to the others and grinned. The clock on the wall clicked; was this picture going to reach her before the end of the lesson? The clock clicked again and the paper moved over to the boy at the front of her row.

The boy did not bother to look around. While the teachers stood next to him to ask him a question he slid the picture to his inside pocket. When the teacher had moved on he gave it another glance and smiled at the girl in the next row, who had passed it to him. Then, without turning around, he reached back and dropped the picture onto the desk behind him. Only two more places but then Suzie was scrabbling around on the floor, under her desk. The teacher was looking at somebody else’s work and when Suzie sat up again the picture was safely in her hand.

The teacher was going on again, about homework, always about homework and then, there it was. It was the picture that Christine had taken during the holidays, the one of her wearing her first bikini. How had they got hold of it? She looked up. The teacher was writing on the board again. Along all the rows of desks, from the front to the back of the class, they had all turned and were smiling at her.

She had left her bag, down on the floor, safely out of the way. Where was it now? Another glance while their next homework appeared on the board and, there was her bag, behind Clive. She heard him lean forward and whisper. “Good picture that. Got any more?”

What might Clive be doing now, she wondered. She had not spoken to him again, not during the three years before they left school. Four years later they had come face to face in a hospital, visiting friends in the same ward. She looked back at the old school photograph; what on earth would her grandchildren be up to now that they had phones and selfies?

What did the girl notice as the photograph was passed round the class?

How had the others got hold of the picture?

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