How to Play Well

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Beverly wouldn’t have been nowhere near tempted to head for the butterfly if she’d known what was going to happen. If she’d had any idea, she would have stayed indoors where it was safe rather than slowly opening the patio door so that she could run barefoot towards the shrubbery at the bottom left of the garden. She wouldn’t have waved to the bumblebees as she passed them, smelled the flowers that she trailed her hand through in passing, and wouldn’t have come to the fence on which the most beautiful, butterfly was trembling, and over which the man was watching her.

She didn’t see him at first, intent as she was on the butterfly, but as soon as she did, she knew that he was a stranger and she remembered the words her mother had drilled into her: stranger danger!

‘Hiya, what’s your name? Mine’s Chris,’ said the stranger as soon as he’d seen that she’d noticed him.

‘Ag, no.’ Beverly’s eyes had become panic-wide and the word danger was blaring so loud inside her mind that it left no room for anything other than monosyllables to make it to her mouth.

The man could see whites all around her blue irises. A pretty effect, he mentally noted, but she’s a fawn about to run. Slow her down. Gain her trust. Say something funny. He smiled and opened his mouth to speak but before he could do so, he heard a voice behind him.

‘Chris, what’re you doing up there? Come in the house and help me move these boxes upstairs.’

‘Hey, sweetie. He pushed himself away from the fence and, still holding on with both hands, turned. ‘I’m just meeting our neighbours; come say hi.’

The woman smiled and walked towards the fence with an expectant look on her face. She knew, from experience, that moving into a new neighbourhood was tough and so they both tried to get to know the people in the houses around them as quick as possible.

Chris let of the fence with one hand and held it out to his wife, who took it and jumped lightly up to join him on the bench he was stood on. They both then peered over the fence that let on to the neighbour’s garden.

But, in the few seconds that had elapsed, the woman in the cornflower-blue dress was gone and the only things they could see moving were a butterfly heading for the azaleas and the curtain behind the closed patio door swaying as if a breeze were playing across it inside their neighbour’s house.

Behind that curtain, sat Beverly, head down, rigid with fright. Her play date with the butterfly was over. She squeezed her eyes shut, but not in time to stop a single tear from escaping and plopping onto her cornflower-blue dress.

Three Points of View

Go, stupid brother. Go, you oaf. Go and leave your sister to me. Can’t you see that I want to get beneath her dress? Can’t you see that you’re not wanted here. Is there nothing I can do to make you quit this den so that I can pull your sister’s pants down and see what mysteries they hold? How much money do I have? If I give you all of it, would you go away and buy something from the corner shop and not come back to share them with us. We have better sweet things to do and see and play with and taste. Go away!

Why does he keep clutching at my pants and trying to pull them down? What’s so interesting inside them that he wants to remove them to see? Nothing there that I haven’t seen a thousand times. Nothing but holes and fluff. Nothing sweet or savoury. Nothing to set the taste buds twitching as much as his seem to be. And why do it in front of my brother? It’d be better to send him away first. I like this boy but I don’t want my brother to see anything that we do together. What a strange way to like me.

When will it be my turn? Why should my sister get all the attention! Why not claw at my clothes for a while instead? I have something more interesting for you to see than the flat nothing in her pants. And I’ll let you see it. Touch it. Taste it. I won’t struggle like this strange sister of mine. Send her away and let me have my turn under your hands. Grasp and grip me. I’m more matched to you than she is. What I feel, you feel too. When will my turn come. My turn to come. Turn to me. Come.