I’m sitting on the fence at the bottom of the garden, absentmindedly munching an apple I
twisted from the tree on the way down. “Always twist, never pull,” Ma said yesterday, “that
way you know you’re getting a ripe one. If it doesn’t twist, it isn’t ready.”
Ma lived in the country when she was a kid so she knows these things, but it’s all new for
me. We used to live near Manchester before – in a flat up three flights of stairs. There was a
lift but it didn’t usually work and Ma always said it’d do me good to take the stairs save
being closed in with someone else’s piss.
I like it better here. If I sit quietly, the rabbits come out of their burrows and scamper round.
I have to remember not to swing my heels into the wood though because then they freeze
There are lots of birds too – not manky pigeons – but all different shapes and sizes. They all
have different sounds and I try to match them up like that card game where you find pairs.
From my perch on the fence, the fields roll away from me – right to the edge of the Earth.
Hedges and trees crisscross into the distance. That’s where the weather starts – as far away
as you can see. It’s where the sun grows from in the morning and where the clouds gang up
to make rain. It was blue over there when I sat down but it’s gone white since. It’s windy
and the clouds are puffing about like they’re rushing to the shops on benefits day. I think I
might be being hypnotised by them.
Above the clouds, the sky is changing colour – grey, greyer, a kind of dirty green-grey.
Something is going to happen. I nibble my apple like it’s popcorn.
A dark shadow lies down across the fields. It creeps closer until it lies over me too. I wonder
if I should be scared but I’m not. I just want to know what happens next.
The sky looks heavy and I hear a rumble and a creak as if it has old knees.
Suddenly there’s a bright flash and even though it’s gone, I can still see it. I tip my face up to
look for more and massive wet rain spatters onto my cheeks. It’s cold and I shriek, but I like
I jump down from the fence into one of the puddles that’s already collecting on the ground.
I hear my aunt shouting to come back in. “What would your mother say?” she asks. And I
don’t know, because even though I still hear her voice, she’s gone.
There’s another flash and a clatter as though someone dropped all their plates. The sky
starts pelting me with tiny pellets, but not the kind from guns. They sting the backs of my
calves as I run back up the path. They sting and I like it.
Nicola Ashbrook is a writer from the north-west of England. Her debut chapbook Mae in Quinquennia is forthcoming with Selcouth Station. Her work can be found in a range of other places including Bath, Reflex, Ellipsis, Truffle, Emerge and Bandit. Links can be found at www.nicolalostinnarration.weebly.com and tweets @NicolaAWrites