“It’s left foot forward and two steps back.”
Cecily looks at her feet. She’s six and a half — seven next Wednesday.
Leo says you have to know your left from your right by the time you’re seven or you’ll never get it, not ever, so she has four days to get it just right.
They’re making up a dance on the pavement outside Alice’s house. It’s summer. Hot. And all four of them are there for the last time before Leo moves away — Nora, with bushfire hair and freckles all over, Leo, short for his age with eyes the same colour as this August sky, Alice, and Cecily.
Across the street Mrs. Gilmore makes sunshine pie.
She’s known for it.
Makes it every Sunday, brings it out in coloured melamine bowls with spoons and gives it to the children right out of the oven.
She’s in the kitchen window — you can see her from across the street. She’s smiling whilst she dollops stiff peaks of glossy meringue onto lemon curd, and from somewhere behind her in the house, there is the murmur of an old jazz song.
“My mum says she wears that scarf ’cause her hair’s falling out,” Alice says, sucking a red lollipop hard so it pops when it comes out of her mouth. She has her hair in two blonde pigtails and she’s put every clip she could find in her hair that makes her head look shiny like she’s wearing a metal cap, so you can’t look right at her in the sun or your eyes will get burned right up from the glare.
“Why’s her hair falling out?” Cecily asks, squinting against a bright blue sky.
“I guess because she forgot to brush it.”
Nora shrugs and Cecily pulls a face like a letterbox.
Later, Cecily takes her brush out from where she had wrapped it in a t-shirt and stuffed it in a drawer.
Natascha Graham is a lesbian writer for stage & screen, as well as fiction and poetry who lives on the east coast of England with her American wife, two children, their cats and their chickens. Her work has been previously published in Acumen, The Sheepshead Review, The Mighty, Yahoo News and has been performed worldwide by The Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York, Thornhill Theatre, London and BBC Radio. Tall Lighthouse Press is publishing a pamphlet of Natascha’s poetry in 2021, and she is currently working on two novels, and a regular radio drama for BBC Radio Suffolk.