By Samantha Dooey-Miles
The girls I usually play with on my street must be away for the day because in this memory, I’m playing with the big boys. They feel like adults in comparison to me but they’re probably no older than eight or nine and I am four.
We’re in the field behind the row of houses we live in. Our gardens back onto it, fenced off little patches of lawn looking out onto an endless expanse of nature. Sometimes cows graze there but none are here right now. The last ones that visited have left behind a load of cow pats. One of the boys stands beside a particularly disgusting specimen and points at it, ‘Do you know, if you touch a fresh one you’ll be able to fly?’
I gaze down at the wet brown splat. ‘Really?’ There are bubbles popping on its surface.
He nods, the other boy backs him up. ‘We can fly. Haven’t you seen us?’
To the best of my recollection, I have only ever seen these boys kick balls and ride bikes but they reassure me, ‘Maybe you haven’t because we’re only allowed to do it when it’s dark, you’re probably in bed by then.’ His story checks out.
I get down onto my knees, the grass tickling my ankles where my leggings have ridden up from running about pretending to be the only girl character in Bucky O’Hare. My body tingles all over from the certainty my life is about to change forever. I’m not exactly sure why I need to fly but I know I absolutely have to take this chance while it’s in front of me. Four is old enough to understand that opportunities like this do not present themselves every day.
The boys offer further encouragement, as I try to muster the bravery to go through with what needs to be done. I scrunch up my eyes and thrust my hand into it, covering my whole palm in cold shit.
Unclenching my eyes, I’m confused to still be on the damp grass and not up in the air. There has been no transformation, no sparkling spell envelops me to mark my metamorphosis. All I’ve magicked is two big boys laughing at me.
About the author:
Samantha’s fiction focuses on first-person, female voices. Her stories have been published in Gutter, Severine, Postbox, Razur Cuts, and Clover & White. In 2021 she won a Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award.