When I grow up, I want to be a sunflower. I want to stand in one place and turn my face with the sun. I want to be tall and bright and make people smile.
Dad says sunflowers will have a better chance than us. But by the time I’ve grown up, even they may need too much water. And they don’t actually turn with the sun. Cacti grows tall, he says. I’ll get to see them soon as we’ll move again and this time, it’ll be the desert.
Cactus, sunflower – I’ll take it, as long as it has roots.
Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest.
The instant he stepped in, the sun went away; the forest was all dimness and cool. He held his hands out – it seemed important not to run into a tree – and walked on. He specialised in making a fool of himself, but he’d come here to change that. No matter the price.
While he snailed into the trees, he listened. The old, fir-green-eyed woman had said that if he couldn’t hear the bells, he would never find them. He checked his pocket for candle and matchbox. At the first tinkling of bells, he lit the candle to summon a faerie.
She’d been here for over a century. Sometimes she still missed her apple tree on the small island. Yet only when the tree blossomed and the buzzers’ inelegant wings annoyed her would she wish for her magic. Losing it had been the price for her escape; she hardly found herself summoning a spell that wouldn’t work these days.
When the Englishmen with whom she’d arrived left, she wondered if she ought to return, too. She’d left home for a reason. There was no guarantee she’d have her magic back. And the mangoes were ripe.
After school, we used to come to the park together to gather daisies. Then we’d sit on our bench – the secluded one by the pond from where you can see most of the grass. We fed leftover sandwiches to the swans, shared our secrets and made each other daisy chains. ‘A flower crown for Princess Violet,’ Poppy would say before she placed one on my head.
While I leave the daisies alone, I still sit on the bench and feed the swans. Late one afternoon, I spot her with her new friends.
What’s going on, has she wandered into a video prank? Is she going to become the next viral YouTube idiot?
‘Maybe she’s laughing at both of us. What’s so funny, then?’
If it’s a prank, someone must be filming. Maybe they’ve hidden a webcam in the leaves. She’s going to find it. If her friends thinks she’s stupid enough to fall for this, she’ll show them. She kneels down. One of the flowers takes a bite out of her earlobe.
We weren’t supposed to be down the far end of the school grounds. But the Gregory twins had chased me all the way. They’d left shouting they’d find a teacher to tell on me.
The hedge growled, shaking its twigs. Scary, but I was more frightened of the Gregory twins. I took out my lunch. The hedge snatched the sarnie. It wasn’t interested in the bread. But it devoured the ham. I held out my finger, pulled back before it could take a bite out.
I laughed. The Gregory twins smelled like pigs. Next time, I’d make them follow me.