Childhood Fantasy

I run through the field, the overlong blades of grass tickling as they brush against my legs. Someone shows me how to cartwheel. I teach them how to thread a daisy chain. We spend the rest of the day thrusting freshly picked buttercups under each others' chins and proclaiming whether or not they like butter. The answer changes each time, in accordance with the dying light of the sun, though neither of us seems to notice.

The friend and I walk home together, skipping down the dirt path and taking shelter under the massive oak trees that mark an avenue along it. A small squirrel lies just off the beaten track, belly up, its stomach punctured with two tiny fangmarks. The friend and I stare at it in morbid fascination. When we next look up, darkness has fallen, and we make our own constellations in the sky, joining up the stars that are brightest and prettiest. The world is loudest at night, the cacophony of cricket chirrups and fox shrieking rising above the dull howl of the wind.

Ten years later
Twenty years later
However long it takes

I run toward the bus stop, my jeans snagging on the broken glass left beside a nearby skip. A car drives past, recklessly splashing through a muddy puddle. I text my mother, trying to explain to her how to work the digibox. As I wait for the next bus, a strange man approaches me, trying to sell me an international phone card, thrusting them towards my face with a leering expression. He insists that they will save me money, even despite the initial charge. As it fades to dusk, he gives up on me and attempts other passers by, as though their answers will change now that it is growing dark.

The bus arrives and I take it alone, scarcely bothering to glance out of the window at the flats as we trundle past. A small animal lies by the side of the road. I wrinkle my nose and look away. Disgusting roadkill. The streetlights flicker on, giving a hazy glow to the fog that surrounds the city. The world is less than silent. Even as I enter my flat, the sounds of a toddler tantrum next door and the heavy traffic outside creep their way through the walls.

Ten years later
Twenty years later
However long it takes


I look back and realise that the world has disappeared like a childhood fantasy.

The End

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