Saturday, January 23, 2010

Challenge 1: Afternoon on the Ilam fields

"That one," she says decidedly, her eyelids flickering open briefly. "It's different to all the rest."

She's right. Her favourite - so far - is a little wispy grey thing, stubbornly hovering over the field while all the regular white cliched clouds puff past far above.

Her hair’s wet from when she washed it this morning. Her clothes are a bit too big, and the right front pocket of her jeans (her old-ish bright blue jeans) is bulging where it’s crammed with used tissues and keys. One day she’ll switch to handkerchiefs, and turn vegan, and stop buying jeans-made-by-slaves-in-sweatshops. Right now? Give it another five minutes, and the damp would have soaked through the back of them. That’s why my coat is spread out on the grass – it means she won’t need to worry about the potential embarrassment if she complains about a wet butt. There are big holes under the armpits of her fluffy, pale purple turtleneck jersey. She always wears her purple t-shirt underneath just so that she can get away with it.

The flowers are straggly, squished by soccer boots. She’s given up on the daisy chain, which was mostly clovers and tiny yellow flowers anyway. Another bus lurches past on the main road with a horrific groan and a hissing of doors, and makes her grin. She smiles again when the wind picks up, and when the flagpole at the sports hall clanks, and even when a little wish from a dandelion lands on her cheek, right next to her nose (but that’s after she’s had minor hysterics and is convinced it’s not a poisonous spider. The poison fear is so she’ll sound sensible and not like a sufferer of irrational arachnophobia. She’s actually scared of most spiders.)

Then it’s back to the discarded daisy chain, and uprooting little tufts of grass to peel them apart and expose the smooth, shiny green inner stalks. That’s one habit she won’t grow out of, even when she starts worrying too much about hygiene and inhaling worms to sit outside on the ground or do any of the gardening.

“Might go shopping tomorrow,” she murmurs. “What are you up to?”
Shopping means a five hour trip with her mum, in which they circuit the clothes shops in the mall at least twice and neither of them ends up buying anything.
“Rock climbing tonight, so nothing that involves moving...look, your cloud’s grown!”
This makes her open her eyes. "Maybe it'll rain! And it'll take you an hour to get home now."
But rock climbing night is once a week, and strands of grey cloud and straggly flowers and dandelion wishes and she are a treasure there isn’t a word good enough for.
“It won’t rain, and it’s worth it anyway.” How elegant. Still, that makes her smile too, and, about twenty seconds later, reach out to accidentally bump hands and pretend she hasn’t noticed so she can leave hers there.

It’s not long before the first wet drops make her eyes snap open and glare at the sky.


Even though it means going home, returning to whatever cabinet-sized fantasy book is currently popular amongst the group and watching raindrop splotches reshape themselves on the windows – even though it means the end of the afternoon - the rain seems to fit in.

And the afternoon hasn’t been that short – we heard two more buses successfully make it down the street, and only after that did the drizzle turn to rain.

She rolls over, stands up with grass stains all over her beautiful skirt, and reaches out a hand.
Taking it: “You fell off your coat!” Or maybe there wasn’t room for her on it in the first place. But she brushes the worst of the dirt off herself and twirls around, admiring the green patterns left behind. “Isn’t it brilliant?”
She’s still holding my hand, until she has to put her coat back on and run for the bus stop.
Word count: 660


  1. In case it's not clear, there's a PoV shift near the end.

  2. Hehehe i wondered if you'd point that out