The little finger poked into her back like a cheese knife.
Gemma turned around and saw a small child, perhaps four years old, running back to her mother’s picnic blanket. The mother was pouring another glass of pink bubbles and exclaiming loudly how wonderful her friend’s new pashmina was. Her friend was laughing it off, ‘this old thing’, and handing around the fruit platter for all of the male picnickers to refuse.
‘They were out of Rainbow, so you’ll have to put up with Choc/Caramel,’ said Tamsin as she plonked herself down next to Gemma and handed over a Paddle Pop.
‘That little kid just assaulted me. Quick, check my jumper. Is it sticky? I bet it’s sticky. She hadn’t washed her hands, I know it. Stupid child,’ Gemma turned her back for Tamsin to check her back. The kid was hiding behind her mother. She stuck her tongue out at Gemma, who replied with a very dirty look and stuck her tongue out. The child hid behind her mother, who looked over to catch Gemma’s eye. Gemma quickly smiled and waved.
‘It’s not sticky, I don’t even know where the kid touched you.’
‘I used to enjoy going to the park. Why do these yuppies have to spoil it for us?’ Gemma tried to remove the wrapper off the ice cream, but it was stuck. ‘And Paddlepops used to be better.’
‘Yeah, good one, old woman.’
‘Why are you scaring my child?’ Gemma looked up to see the awful mother standing over her.
‘Why are you scaring my child? What did she do to you?’
‘She poked me. You should keep her to yourself.’ Gemma wouldn’t look up anymore. With the sun behind her, the mother was a dark silhouette.
‘I would like you to apologise.’
Gemma looked at Tamsin. Tamsin shrugged. Gemma stood. She looked the mother directly in her designer sunglasses.
‘I would like you to keep your snotty nosed little shit away from me. I would like you to respect the other users in the park and not treat it like your back yard. I would like you to leave me alone. Do I get what I want? Apparently not. So how about you piss off, you stupid, stuck up witch.’
The little girl’s mother was shocked, but not as shocked as Tamsin.
‘Gem, are you okay? I never knew you could be so… angry.’
Gemma looked at Tamsin and burst into tears.
‘I’m not usually, I just really wanted a quiet sit in the park in the sunshine and this kid poked me and it hurt and now I’m really angry and sad.’ The last part of her speech was blocked as Gemma threw herself onto Tamsin, who patted her back, both careful not to drop their Paddlepops.
‘I’m so sorry,’ Tamsin mouthed over her friend’s shoulder at the mother who backed away quietly, gathered her party together, and they all left.
Ten minutes later, Gemma put her icy pole stick on top of Tamsin’s on the grass.
‘But the tears were genius, Gem, how did you think of them?’
‘I was in the moment. So, now what?’
‘Yeah, ok. I’m going to whip your arse!’