The world swayed sideways. Cake stumbled towards the bin near the classroom door and coughed up the hamburger she’d had for breakfast. Sweat soaked out her skin and her mouth tasted like river slime.
‘Jesus,’ Skeg boy said, perched on his chair, as far away from her as possible.
Cake wiped her lips across her school blazer sleeve. ‘Bloody Maccas.’
In her bedroom, Cake switched on the telly and tilted her head sideways. Her lazy eye made her look as if she’d been in a fight. A rush of warm air from the central heating vent flowed from the ceiling. Cake flopped onto a beanbag and dragged out a tray from beneath her bed. She’d been seasick all day. On the tray was a thumb size roll of foil and a clay pipe. She lit up and waited for the world to straighten out.
Her phone chimed. It was a text from Skeg boy. You coming, slut.
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Tilly’s pale green hair stands straight up in the air. Her hair stands up so high it’s as though she’s hung upside down and her hair got stuck that way. My hair is the one thing I wish I could change, Tilly thinks as she sits in the schoolyard balancing her lunch box on her knees. Her Great Aunt Mildred had the same green hair and magical sight but Tilly would swap them both to be the same as everyone else. Tilly sighs and tightens the pink bow in her upright ponytail. She never met her Great Aunt Mildred and would love to know why she’s different and if she had ever seen a real wood witch.
A white cabbage butterfly hovers around Tilly’s sandwich, trying to get her attention, while a leaf cricket climbs on her shoe and tap dances. The butterfly flutters in circles in front of Tilly to cheer her up, the wings flapping so fast they are almost invisible. Tilly chews on her delicious cheese and cucumber sandwich and holds out her finger for the butterfly land on. The butterfly tickles Tilly’s finger, making her smile.
A group of girls from her grade climb on the roped spider web, laughing and whispering secrets. The leader of the whispering girls is Summer. She wears her blonde hair in a bob and her nose glows bright pink and peels as if it’s sunburnt. The girls stroll over to Tilly with their chins high and hands on hips. They all have on matching skorts and polo tops. Tilly tucks her legs under her school dress.
Kate kept her soul in a box at the bottom of her wardrobe. There was a bronze key too, she recalled, leaning on the wardrobe door to unbuckle her waitressing shoes. The intricately scrolled key had hung from a gold necklace around her neck. The chain had snapped the day Kate got her wings, and the key disappeared. Kate sighed. She tried to flex her swollen feet and slammed the door.
Let us slide
along our highway
An invisible passage crossed
whenever a song plays
in the car, shops or home
reminding me — of you —