My best friend Claire knows I go by Bertie; she just likes to be contrary. She’s a pain, but a mostly lovable one. We’re the mismatched sisters that neither of us has for real.
She waves wildly from the bitumen below, and starts to walk up the steps of the grandstand towards the highest seats, where I’m sitting.
It’s our secret spot. Or one of them, anyway. Even when the local footy is on, hardly anyone comes all the way to the top.
Claire and I are unlikely friends in more ways than one. We’re not as different as the sun and the moon, but we have fewer things in common than would be expected from two girls joined at the hip. Firstly, we look nothing alike. She’s got lovely olive skin and long, dirty-blonde hair that she always wears in naturally messy waves.
She’s bigger than most of the kids our age: taller, broader, but not pudgy. Just bigger.
On a weekend not that long ago, someone mistook her for my babysitter.
My mum said Claire ‘matured early’. Claire’s mum said she could have been an even better swimmer than her brother, Cooper, who is two years younger. His wide shoulders and flipper feet have propelled him to victory in swimming races for as long as I can remember. He’s still pretty short, but he’ll probably shoot up even taller than his sister soon enough. Claire likes netball better, and is the best player in our town. She’s got the MVP every season except one, and that was only because the coach felt sorry for another girl on our team, whose parents announced their divorce just before the grand final…