I awoke to the sound of a lawnmower and the smell of cut grass drifting in on a warm breeze. At last, I thought, Summer had arrived.
Wait, a lawnmower? Who was cutting grass at this time in the morning?
"Crap" I said, springing out of bed. I had overslept.
But, even as I mechanically and manically dragged my weekday uniform on, thoughts were turning to the possibilities that lay outside in that early summer sun.
This was not a day for going to school, this was a day built for bunking off.
Instead of stiff black shoes, I pulled on my trainers and snuck down the stairs. Having not been caught so far, I risked a raid on the kitchen and clumsily made a peanut butter sandwich. I took it out of the back door and into the garden.
Over the hedge I could see that it was Reg next door who was cutting his grass. I hoped in vain that he might do mine too, saving me from getting into trouble for not doing it yesterday.
"Some hope" I said and made a running leap at the fence at the bottom of our garden.
I landed hard in the farmers' field next door, with a sense of pride and freedom.
The crops were small and green still, but they stretched up their leaves to the sun like rows of meerkats on tip toes warming their limbs. I squatted down for a closer look to see bugs and insects jostling for position, worshiping what might be the first sun of their miniature lives.
I walked around the edge of the field munching at my sandwich, half way up the side I heard something rustling in the bushes. Kneeling down, feeling the hard dirt at the edge of the field digging into my skin, I peered through the leaves. A rabbit looked back at me, twitchy and coiled for flight. I felt a bit sorry for him, terrified as he was, but jealous too, he could bunk off in the sun everyday. I carried on.
Reaching the top of the field I entered an avenue of trees, even on this glorious day it was shadowy and ominous. Shrugging off my blazer and tie, I hung them on a tree, freeing me to fight the monsters hiding in the gloom with a sword plucked from a tree. They drove me backwards into a stream, but I slew them all there leaving them bleeding into the raging waters. Next I mounted the embankment on the other side and stormed a castle perched on its summit. A princess was saved. Chastely I left her in the fortresses tallest tower with a promise to return at the end of the war. Hot and bothered, my horse and I galloped back to the stream and romped through the waves till my trainers and trouser legs were soaked.
Feeling a bit damp and fed up of getting splinters, I tossed my "sword" in to a bush and headed towards a den I had once known. Would it still be there and in use? After a bit of wandering I found the place. Although the entrance seemed changed from what I remembered, the inside was much the same. Made from a natural hollow between some trees, a sheltered nest had been created amongst the roots. Some digging had shaped bench seats with planks laid on top, which were much weathered now and groaned when I sat down.
I looked about, some kids had stashed porn mags amongst the roots, but they didn't interest me much, I had lots of that stuff at home. Beneath another was a half buried ball, which was more like it. I was digging it out, hands and trousers smeared with mud, when I heard a noise behind me.
Spinning round on my knees I looked up, slightly blinded for a second by the light coming through the entrance, to see a boy I knew. He wore a very similar expression to the panicky rabbit I had seen earlier. I thought he might startle and flee, but curiosity seemed to hold him in place.
"Mr Williams!" he eventually exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"Hurum" I cleared my throat and stalled "I could ask you the same question Jenkins; shouldn't you be in my maths class right now?"
He laughed nervously "Well yeah, I should be, but you're obviously not there to take it." He said slyly.
"Well you have me there, but some days are just not made for sitting in class rooms are they?"
"No Sir, I came to get that ball actually, fancy a game?"
"Sure do." I replied and finished digging it up.
I emerged from the den like I was running out to a crowded Wembley. Arms held aloft and roaring, which startled the two boys who were hanging round outside. They were not skivers from my class.
"H" I said cheerfully, bending over to roll up my filthy, sodden trouser legs and nodding at the ball.
"Room for a big one?"