Growing up, my sister and I had a forty-acre field to play in, behind the family planning clinic and bordered by the rugby club. It was like the cress in a hard-boiled egg sandwich. Not quite as magical as that special childhood wood but still full of wonders. We made dens by rolling our teddy bear bellies over the grass and made friends with the ladybirds and butterflies.
That last summer, we spun cocoons in the straw and waited to hatch—a ghost moth and a painted lady. We knew nothing about pests, the parasitic wasps drawn to fresh blood or virgin skin. Instead, our books were full of lashings of ginger beer and teenage boys who liked to go hiking.
I had a verruca at the end of my second toe. It was already longer than my big toe, so I couldn’t wear flip-flops without feeling like the ugly sister (the one who cut her toes off to fit the crystal slipper). Now I had a darkness growing on it like a bad fairy. So on the day the world split, I left my sister with her bottle of pop and the latest Famous Five as I went to look for dandelions. Our Gran had told me if I rubbed the sap over my toe, my foot wart would disappear as quickly as a slug sprinkled with salt.
As I limped back, my tongue as sticky as my toe, I heard a rustling, the ground wavered, and my sister shouted my name. I ran, reaching her just in time to see the boy disappear into the long grass. The pop bottle had spilled a strawberry moon all over her book.
When I looked down, my foot was as red as her scream.
Adele Evershed was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Connecticut. Her poetry and prose have been published in several online journals and print anthologies such as Every Day Fiction, Variety Pack, Reflex Fiction, Free Flash Fiction, Grey Sparrow Journal, Monday Night Magazine, Selcouth Station, High Shelf Press, LEON Lit, Prose Online and Shot Glass Journal. She has been recently nominated for The Pushcart Prize for poetry and shortlisted for the Staunch Prize for flash fiction, an international award for thrillers without violence to women.