It is a December day and one hundred - give or take - children are sitting in a warm school hall. The little ones are sitting closer to the front on their bottoms, whilst the older ones are allowed to sit on long wooden benches. They have come for a treat; the very littlest are performing their Christmas Nativity play and they older pupils are being allowed to watch in exchange for their good behaviour during the week. I don't think I mentioned that it is a Friday, but it is.
For my part in this story - and my part in this story is not especially important - it is the day of my younger sister's ninth birthday party, for which she will be going bowling with a small group of friends in the evening. She will receive a pink plastic castle and I will be very jealous. Whilst sitting in the hall, the headteacher will congratulate me for sitting quietly.
But this isn't about me.
Next to me sits my best friend. We have been inseparable - ignoring the odd argument - since we were six years old.
It is darkening outside by the time the little ones have finished their play and we all hurry home to spend the weekend becoming increasingly excited about impending celebrations. There is a sense of festivity in the air, and everyone knows that the next week will feature little work and lots of Christmas.
Fast forward nine years and I am sitting in a classroom, eating my lunch. I am training to be a teacher and have just started my second Teaching Placement. The same afternoon, I have to teach my first lesson with this class, who are the same age as I was in my previous anecdote. My phone simply won't pick up a signal, whichever way I point it. I switch it off and switch it back on again and it finally vibrates.
It is a text message from my best friend.
Her Mum has died in the night.
I am not sure how these two strands twist together, but they seem to fit perfectly. Hand. Glove.
On that evening, my best friend goes home to her warm, welcoming house. Home to her Mum and excitement and Christmas.
Nine years later, my best friend no longer has her Mum. She is alone in the world, without the person who gave her life and who made her life so warm and welcoming and full of excitement.
Perhaps, because I remember the first so clearly as a time when we were both so happy. She was so happy. And it is as though that time is yesterday. And she is still my best friend. And nothing has changed.
And everything has changed.