Our place away from parents – where I go to see Quorla. Today he seems sad, keeps looking at me and away again. I’m the same with him. It’s hard to get our glances to meet.
Purple eyes, blackest hair in tiny curls, beads on his brow, he takes the apple my mum gave me and I get a fruit from him. The things he gives me most times are wiggly and flat. You suck the lines off. Lots of lines and lots of colours. I can’t remember what he calls them but it’s like tasting magic.
That’s what he says about apples.
Behind him one of the beetle men buzzes between giant blue toadstools far away.
Eyes closed, he bites the apple and his shoulders jerk with pure happiness. Playing cards, sparkling diamonds and whirling bright shapes burst from his head. That always happens when he takes a first bite; it’s how people like him show happy.
He swallows and the happiness goes. Nasty orange bird-things fly and hiss around him instead. Now he looks straight at me. “The wise say I shouldn’t meet you any more. They say it’s bad. Some think you are an evil spirit and will hurt me.”
I knew this would happen one day. Is this the last time we meet? Ever?
I answer, “My mum says I mustn’t see you any…” My legs twist around each other. I hug myself. Everything gets thicker and greyer and I’m back in the playroom, crying, head on knees.
My mum’s footsteps get louder and go quiet. She’s left the kitchen and her slippers are so soft on the playroom carpet. Her hand goes on my head. “What’s wrong, pet?”
I sit up, sobbing, tears spotting my T-shirt, hot lines on my face. “I said goodbye to Quorla. He’s not pretend … he’s not!” I get up, turn around and hug her legs. “He’s not, Mum.”
She strokes my hair and softly pulls my arms from her. “Oh, my love, why don’t we go into the garden and feed the fish?” Holding my wrist she gasps. “What’s…? What’s that in your hand? Stop licking it! What is that thing?”
“Quorla and me always swap.” I splutter. “He loves apples.”
©Gary Bonn, 2018