Handball And Havana

Angelique sat next to me, staring out the window and humming an exotic tune under her breath. Our teacher, Mrs Parker, had already given up trying to tame her wild spirit into learning. Angelique had arrived three days ago. She had come from Cuba and only her parents spoke fluent English.
As the bell for recess rang, I jotted down the last few words on my page. Angelique was out of the room as quick as a flash. She plucked a peach from her back pack and ran out to bag a hand ball court for me and the rest of my friends. We sat on the court while we ate and talked.
“Jeremy asked Isla to the year 6 formal!”
“You’re kidding, right?!”
“Oh my gosh!!!!!”
“That’s so random!”
As my friends chatted I looked over at Angelique. She bounced the ball like a drum beat, then looked up at me: her mischievous eyes dancing, challenging me to play.
“Hey Jesse, what are you going to wear to the formal?” Renee asked and reluctantly I was drawn back into the conversation again.
Five minutes later, we were finally finished eating and were ready to play a game of our invention - Interference Handball. We play on a handball court- as many people as you like per square, no rules and no boundaries. You just have to bounce the ball to someone in a different square as weirdly as possible.
Angelique smiled as we played. Her smile grew bigger and bigger as the game progressed. Gemma bounced the ball so strangely we all burst out laughing, Angelique included. I could see the sparkle of enjoyment in her eyes and her laughter was happy and musical.
We were back in class and the mood had changed completely. No laughter, no smiles, just the rhythmic tap-tap of pens writing spelling lists in tedious running writing. I watched Angelique for a while. Her colourful headband stood out from the grey dullness of school work. It was probably a small rebellion she had thought up. Even though I didn’t know who she really was and I didn’t speak her language, I could tell she was going to be my friend.
The minutes ticked by until finally it was lunch. As I sat on the silver seats with my friends and ate my salad sandwich, I realised something; every kid in the world doesn’t need to speak the same language to be friends. We speak to each other through the language of play.

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