I listened to the dial tone and hung up. If I dialled the right number I’m free of the Victoria Estate, this closed in, run down suburb-within-a-city. And the endless taunts, the tittle tattle – and Tara and Saskia – the school bullies.
Saskia was notorious. When she homed in on me or another target, her eyes turned into glassy marbles like a cat about to pounce on its tiny prey. Then, Jekyll-and-Hyde like, she’d whisper in your ear. ‘It will never happen again, I promise’.
We all avoided her – even Tara couldn’t take it in the end - she changed schools in our final year. Technically, Saskia wasn’t a resident of the Estate, but a hanger-on from the more up market apartments off Grosvenor Gardens. Somehow, she got dragged down to us lot. Kicked out of her preppy school and overlooked by her jet-set parents. I never forgot her. Years later, I wondered how she’d turned out. School bullies. Nothing on social media, I drew a complete blank. Maybe she’d changed her name? Who knows.
That pillarbox red telephone booth did save me, though, from the Victoria Estate.
It was a sunny day in March and the end of an interminable, gloomy winter. I picked up the receiver, as I did most days, especially bad ones. I listened desparatly for a voice through the inevitable crackle and whirring, and Captain Quasar spoke at last...
I penned my autograph and handed the book back to the little girl, her eyes agog with delight. ‘Thank you so much! I've read every one. Captain Quasar is my favourite, she’s so brave!’
When I’m alone, I wonder how Saskia might have turned out if she, too, had superpowers.
I looked directly at the girl. ‘Yes, that’s what counts. Being brave and staying true to yourself’.