‘… here we go round the mulberry bush on a cold and frosty morning …’
Francis watched his cousins: Ivy’s primrose hair tumbled from its ribbon; Johnny’s socks were wrinkled, scuffed white from the gravel path. As the oldest, Francis would be in trouble for the grass stains, for the smudges of dirt on rosy cheeks.
‘It’s a box hedge,’ he muttered. ‘And it’s June. No frost in June.’ They didn’t hear, just kept on laughing and skipping.
He could write his name in perfect copperplate scrolls by the time he was four; had known his times tables by six. At each fresh achievement his parents had shown ghost smiles, eyes soon drawn back to the morning paper. No ghost smiles for the twins. Everyone adored them.
‘Let’s go into the maze,’ called Francis.
His pocket felt heavy and he smiled.