The acrobats were like nothing ever seen before. Against the black stage backdrop, the men and woman were glowing neon lights come to life. They performed with a swiftness that years of practise had given them; they balanced on top of each other, swung from heights, juggled and walked on stilts.
The children wowed their wonder, cried their delight and gasped at the feats before them. When it as all over, the clapping echoed for an age and the acrobats bowed till their backs ached.
Back stage they celebrate and let their true fairy forms shine.
The doorbell rang and I went to answer it. On the doorstep was a medium size box. Looking up, I saw the deliveryman waving as he went back to his van. I waved back then gathered my parcels.
‘Postman?’ my husband called from the study where he was working from home.
‘No…it’s a thing for me,’ I answered.
I went to deny it but I couldn’t. Since starting lockdown my world had moved online. Everything I wanted came at the click of a mouse and it was like Christmas everyday but if it kept me going then it was worth it.
Dad’s shouting woke me. Rolling over in bed, I rubbed my face and tried to understand through the fog of sleep what was going on. I heard footsteps along the hallway then the stairs. Mum’s voice in the kitchen and dad replying.
I got up, climbed down the bunk bed’s ladder and went, yawing and groggily, to investigate.
‘Look in the sink!’ mum cried as I entered the kitchen.
Confused, I did so and what I saw shocked me fully awake.
A fluffy, brown, fat hamster was trying to climb up the back of the sink but he kept sliding down because he couldn’t get a grip on the smooth surface.
‘Houdini!’ I yelled and grabbed the wiggling hamster, ‘I thought you were lost forever.’
‘So it’s him, then?’ dad asked.
‘Houdini has been missing a whole year,’ mum pointed out, ‘are you sure?’
Peering into my cupped hands at the ball of fluff and I nodded.
This is a true event from my childhood. Houdini was so named because he would escape and we’d never find out how he did it. He would be missing for awhile but this time it really was a whole year that he was gone for.
A few years after Houdini passed away, we got a new washing machine and a hamster nest was discovered in the vent. We believed it to have been Houdini’s nest and he had lived in the kitchen were there was always access to food and water.
For the first time in two months the market was awake once more.
People set up their stalls under a orange-yellow sky, greeting each other. Plastic and paper rustled in the breeze whilst the heavenly scent of fresh bread, cakes and pies called to be tasted.
Harriet and her mother set up their small farm’s produce stall. There were eggs laid by their chickens. Homemade jams, marmalade and chutneys using fruit and veg from their field. Golden honey from Harriet’s beehives and goat’s cheese from mother’s goats.
The nervousness in the air was broken by the first customers arriving. Harriet let go of the breath she was holding. It felt like things were returning back to normal.
Dazing lights shone through the night as water played it’s tinkling tune within the fountain. Rising up from the centre was a large pink and white waterlily, posed on the edge of fully opening.
My mum sat on her balcony each clear evening, sometimes with a glass of wine and my dad, looking at the fountain. She didn’t know she was having me until four or five months in. She couldn’t get pregnant and thought it was another phantom.
My parents struggled to name me for weeks but finally one evening on the balcony with me wrapped in a blanket in mum’s arms, she looked across at the waterlily and knew what my name was.
When D had first moved into the dump he had lived in a tent. The owner had taken pity and given D a home and a job. Now, D lived in a little shack with running water and gas. His job was to find things to sell.
Metal and wood brought in good money. Sometimes D would find antiques and jewellery which accidentally had been thrown out or it’s value not realised. A few times D had discovered money which he kept for himself.