It was lunch hour and as always the schoolyard was dividing itself into two factions; oh sure, there was a slight flavour of boys vs girls (“They don't wear makeup or come from Earth”, I’d heard one of the girls whisper to a friend once; I knew what she was talking about). But that was not the true division the tore each of us young, runny nosed, bright eyed kids apart. Honestly the divide changed from week to week, but this week it was Kara Varnor, explorer of the great beyond.
Kara Varnor was a cartoon, it was a 4d animation, and if you don’t know what that is, so sorry but I really don’t have time to explain. There was us, the ones who thought that Kaylee was the best sidekick on the show and… them, the kids who thought that Gizelle was the better.
“It’s a dark day my friend,” Nelson said. We were standing at the top f the tall red slide that looked a little like an elephant and a lot like something that you can only imagine made us kids giggle and blush. He was our leader, and was about as stoic as a 7 year old comes. He had an empty toilet paper roll to his eyes and was scanning the battlefield complete with jungle gym and swings. His nose was running.”We’ve lose the southmost sandbox. Bebe was in there, god bless her soul.”
“She knew the risks.” I said.
“But still.” He lowered the roll. “No pudding cup should outlast its owner.”
There was a tug on my sleeve and I turned. I didn’t mean to recoil, it was an honest mistake and it’s something I think about to this day, but the androids dark steely eyes were always disarming. They weren’t bad they were just... different, and kids have a way of recoiling from the different
“I’d like to help,” he said.
I opened my mouth to speak, to say (by reaction, I didn't truly believe this) that we had no place for him. Nelson stepped forward and put his hand on my shoulder, “And we could use your help,” he said
The android smiled.
He has a name, you know. I called him the android back then, but his name was Virginia Woolf. His parents had an odd algorithm for naming. For the same reason I didn't know his name, I protested. Nelson smiled and shook his head.
“When it comes to the schoolyard,” Nelson said, “We need all the help we can get. We’ll call you bin. That’s your code name” Bin nodded, and smiled shyly.
The attack was sudden. A spitball the likes of which I’ve never seen slapped into the side of the slide with a sickening “Thwack’. We dived behind the elephant ear/testicular outcropping that was at the top of the slide. We all peaked around. Susie was the sentry, and we watched as in slow motion a wet wad of destiny slapped into the side of her face.
“God, no. Susie.” Nelson whispered. He wiped away a tear and took a sip from his juice box. It was grape.
The android took his hand off (this was normal for us, mind you.” And a kite came out. I watched stunned as it slowly reeled up towards the sky, like a string of handkerchiefs coming from a clown's sleeve. It soared upwards and I was so lost in the beauty I neglected the intent.
“7 near the swings. 1 is flanking us from behind.” Bin said.
“How did you-”
“Camera,” he said, smiling. “Attached to the kite. I can see the whole schoolyard.”
I was surprised. In that moment I’d forgotten he was an android. Maybe because kids have short attention spans, but maybe it was just because I was able to see him in the same light you get to see any kid cowering form a spit ball.
Nelson nodded, and crushed his juice box. “Let’s roll,” he said.
Then the bell rang, and the war was postponed. The friendship, continued however.