Melissa Ambertil's life is about to change. Forever.


1. Ashes

This is the first Halloween I’ve spent in. Ever.

My costume is still hanging up, ready to be worn. If costumes could think, this one would be exuberant, impatient; disappointed that it will never get to live up to its great potential.

The costume is not ready made. I spent months on it; I wanted to create the perfect one. I researched witches late into the early autumn nights. Not real witches, of course, there’s no such thing, but medieval ones. Women who were accused of sorcery and black magic, who were thrown in water and hanged if they floated. If they sank they were innocent, but they were also drowned. In my head, they were ghostly white, frail girls. I didn’t want to do the clichéd witch costume, oh no. Mine is average medieval dress, that of a poor, young girl. Rags and hobgoblin boots. Shadows under the eyes, un-brushed hair, a brooch hidden beneath the cloak. I have imagined her story, her dead mother, her drunken father.

All those days spent on that costume and now it is worthless. I will never get to wear it. By the time Halloween comes around again I will have grown a few inches at least. I’m just entering the age where all my female relatives claim to have had their growth spurts. I could give the costume to a charity shop, but what would be the point. No-one would buy it; it’s too un-conventional. Even if somebody did pick it off the shelves, fall in love with it as much as me, I would resent that they get to wear it when I don’t.

I tear the costume from the coat hanger, drag it through to the living room. I leave it carelessly strewn on the floor while I start the fire.

I don’t know how long I sit and watch, watch my pride and joy turn to ashes.

I wonder how long it will take for the social services to come and get me. Decide which relative should look after me. They’ll choose my aunt and uncle and cousin and cousin I bet. Even though they’re in a different country. Even though I’m English and that means I don’t fit Scotland. Even though where they live the English are snobs. But social services are stupid like that. First they think it’s best to give you hope, then they think it’s best to move you to Scotland.

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