Snowflake

By: Heide Goody

Heide Goody & Iain Grant


Chapter 1





There’s a lot of different ways to get dumped.

I’ve been dumped in person, like when Leo Bickers in year five told me he preferred Yu-Gi-Oh cards to kissing girls. I’ve been dumped by text, too many times: ‘It’s not you it’s me’, ‘Get a grip and grow up’, ‘I forgot to tell you I’m married, soz’. (You know, the usual.) And I’ve been dumped by letter. Gareth, who I thought was going to be my Mr Perfect, wrote me the sweetest letter. I’ve still got it somewhere.

But I reckon very few people have been dumped by letter, by their parents.

And it had started out as such a lovely day.



Coming home after a trip, there’s nothing like it, is there? I’d been travelling since the transfer bus picked us up outside the Akrogiali Resort at five in the morning (that’s five in the morning Greek time) and my heart lifted when the taxi finally pulled up at home. The streets of suburban England are dark compared to the wide streets and whitewashed buildings of Crete, but I’d really missed the trees. Funny that. You don’t realise how many trees there are in Britain, even in the cities, until you go and visit one of the browner bits of the world. Trees lined the streets of home like a guard of honour to greet me.

It takes a fortnight away to make you really appreciate what matters in life: the trees, my own bed, home-cooked food, and someone to pay the taxi for me. I know I should have kept some money back, but I got caught up in the holiday mood. I just had to give the lads at the Ikarus Bar a special tip on my last night. I also gave an extra ten euro note to Bemus, the poor little boy who sat outside the Akrogiali every day. And I had to buy some souvenirs. Had to.

The fine Greek sausage and bottles of raki were in my bag. The pendant I’d bought hung around my neck and Gida the goat sat on my lap in the taxi, just like she did on the plane. Would you believe that a wickerwork goat is just the wrong size to fit inside the overhead locker? Mind you, there was an awful woman sitting next to me on my flight. She complained about me to the cabin crew, saying that Gida was shedding twigs on her skirt and then she said that my bag smelled disgusting. I had to get my sausage out to show her that it was, in fact, a delicacy she was talking about.

“It’s called loukaniko sapio or something,” I told her. “It was the last one in the shop.”

“It’s off,” she had the gall to tell me. “Nothing that smells like a roadie’s armpit is fit for human consumption.”

I explained to her that some of the world’s most sophisticated and sought-after foods are challenging to the immature palate, but halfway through my educational description (I’d read a Buzzfeed article about smelly foods) of how Alaskan stinkheads are prepared by burying salmon heads until they ferment, she ran for the toilets.

Back home now, the taxi driver fetched my bag out of the boot. His expression as he caught a whiff of the sausage reminded me of the woman on the plane. I kept my mouth shut this time and pretended I couldn’t smell anything.

“I’ll pop my bag inside and pay you in just a minute,” I said to him. He sat back down in the driver’s seat.

I put my key in the lock but it wouldn’t fit. This happens sometimes, particularly since that time I used my key to open a tin of tuna (it was an emergency; the stray cat in the garden looked really hungry). No worries, I’d use the spare key. There’s a stone in the front garden that’s a different colour to all the rest.

I lifted the stone and groped underneath. No key? There was something in its place though, an envelope.



Lori



It was addressed to me. Well I love post as much as the next person, but I needed to get inside, so I thumped the door as I took out the letter and read it.



Lori,

You know how we always talked about down-sizing and moving off grid once you and Adam were old enough? Well, we’ve gone and done it. You’ll notice that the locks have been changed. We promised Mrs Llewellyn we’d do that when we moved out.



I mouthed those words again, testing their meaning. I tried them out loud. “Moved out?” I stared up at the door. Blue gloss paint with scratches around the lock. It looked the same. I stepped back. The whole house looked the same. I thumped the door again and read on.