Little Lamb


1. Birthday

   I remember my birthday last year. I remember sitting at the round table in our kitchen with my mother, father and my elder brother, Will. My friends were sitting at the table too, Charlotte and Mabel and Iris. I was wearing a brand new dress that I’d unwrapped that morning, and it was blue like the sky. Everyone was singing happy birthday to me and I was beaming and thinking that life was the best it could be at that moment. I never even imagined that so suddenly my life could change so drastically. I remember that when the cake was placed in front of me the whole room fell completely hushed. It was as if the world had paused, everyone anticipant for me to make this one wish. I shut my eyes, which seemed to make the silence more pronounced. I became overwhelmed by the choice of wishes, which then I believed all gave wishes that could fulfil 9 year old girls life. Finally I decided that what I wanted more than anything was the doll I’d seen in the toy shop window at the end of my road. I decided I’d call her Violet and I wished, harder than I ever had before, for Violet to be lying, beautifully still, in my arms.

   Now it’s my tenth birthday and I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor of a huge yard. I’m wearing a dress that’s grey from the dust, just like the sky is now. And nobody is singing happy birthday to me. It’s almost completely silent except for the hanging sound of an old woman crying, hunched up in the corner. Occasionally there’s a sudden bang that sounds like the gun Father used to shoot the ravens on our fields back home with. Or an amplified version of Will cracking his knuckles. Over time I’ve learnt to anticipate that that bang is certain to be followed by a sharp scream and I don’t like it at all.

   With my finger I draw a birthday cake in the thick dust that smothers the ground, with ten tall candles and, with a swift move, I draw a undulating line that represents sugary icing. Then I close my eyes as tightly as I can and now I have no trouble deciding on my wish. Violet doesn’t even cross my mind. I long for things to go back to the way they were and that the evil guards will bring Mother and Father and Will back from where ever they have taken them because it’s been weeks and I miss them. I wish harder than I ever have before and then cross my fingers and blow onto the dust birthday cake, which results in bits of grime erupting onto my scrunched up face. I wait a few seconds and then I open my eyes, praying that I’ll be back in my kitchen with my family and friends singing happy birthday to me. But I’m not. My birthday cake has been destroyed from when I blew out my dust candles and now I’m just looking down at a blank ground. The old woman, whimpering quietly, is looking at me with her glassy eyes and when I glance back at her she starts crying even harder.

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