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The bees are flying upside down, you said. It was only the second time we’d met; the first was on a slope of the town’s landfill where we’d hissed like cats over a typewriter with several keys missing. I’d won that day – not because I was a boy, but because you weren’t the fighting back kind. What’s the use if you can’t type your name, you called as I lugged it home.
I didn’t ask what you meant, about the bees, but from that point we were inextricable – celestial forms orbiting one another: skipping class to scale the disused radio tower, breaking into the back of the charity shop and trying on too-big clothes. I dressed as you, you as me, playing grown-ups until the alarm keened.
I’d never had a best friend. Didn’t know you were until the younger Jennings brother corralled you into the alleyway behind the butcher’s, and when you told me, I hurt him so bad my fist is wrong even today.
You said other things, like how you’d discovered a new colour, that the world was run by headlice. Once, in winter, you came to school without clothes on, sat at your desk until I put my coat around you, took you home.
They came for you a week before your 15th birthday, two men and a woman, with a buckled jacket and some sedatives they didn’t need, your step-dad clasping the grief inside your mum on the porch as they drove you away. Next morning, I swear a bee passed me upside down.