I remember sitting on the edge of the stage in the school auditorium at lunchtime chatting to a friend. He was struggling with the break up from his long term (4 months) girlfriend with the unfortunate name of Bev. I don’t remember her as much, she had odd hair and her mum was Polish.
I remember sitting there listening to him pour out his troubles whilst he took some tablets. There were specific days he remembered when they had fun, there were specific nights of teenage fumblings, they were poignant memories for him. I was there for some of the fun with Roo and Trace. We were there for some of the evenings before our curfews, before the couples went off on their own.
I remember the sounds of school life going on around us, the noise of the first years, still playing as children, the second and third years trying to be noticed by some and invisible to others. There was the clatter of pots from the canteen and loud shouts from boisterous testosterone fuelled youths. I think of the pills.
I remember wondering if he would stop taking the pills when the bell went for next class. I knew the answer. I spoke of the fun we all had before Bev, of the nefarious actions that even now thirty years on make me smile. I spoke with an urgency, with all the charisma I could muster, to give him something when he felt he had nothing.
At the funeral his father cried. His step-mother didn’t. Years later his sister came looking for answers. She knew. I know, I sat with a distraught, depressed teenager and watched them slowly poison their body with painkillers, aspirin and paracetamol until the bell rang and I went to class. I called an ambulance half an hour later, I couldn’t cope with knowing what he was doing. He survived, but only for a few short days. He took himself off, on his own, and jumped into the quarry. He was seventeen.