Millie and Adela waggle their tow-sacks through the stile, grazing the beech hedge as if they were moony golden sheep instead of moony dun girls meant to be sharp-eyed, not dozy and slack, watching for bits of fluff, flimsy in the scraggly brush. They trod on silver thistle, quaking grass, bramble, and brome, plucking buttercups and bluebells instead of Cotswold wool tufts as they ramble toward the wych elm with its withered arms scratching at the lowering sky and giddy at their coming. Jasper, George, and little Letty Hawkins scramble close behind, pockets and willow baskets trembling with unease and wispy snags of fleece picked from splintered slat and seedpod, roughened creeping vine. There is no spell that will make the boys quicken to their tasks or give Letty longer, bolder legs or make the fiddle-riffs of lapwings less eerily enticing or the yellow whisperings of lady’s bedstraw less lulling, less beguiling in the webs of shivery light. Millie and Adela drop their sacks and drag the boys along within the dreadful rushing of their voiceless howling, their feet still sniffing the spongy ground for little Letty as they dash through her sudden vanishing. Through the blue and yellow flower froth, they whirl their arms and pell-mell hare away, past the tell-tale milk-blue twitch of thread whimpering from the lowest grasping wych elm branch where little Letty’s basket fell and nowadays is a small tussock fluffed with yarrow and wreathed by wild windflowers.
Kate Falvey’s work has been published in an eclectic array of journals and anthologies, including the Mysteries issue of Deep Overstock; in a full-length collection, The Language of Little Girls (David Robert Books); and in two chapbooks. She edits the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech/CUNY, where she teaches, and is an associate editor for the Bellevue Literary Review.