I take my slow solitary steps in the shadows, careful.
I see them playing beyond, in the fields, and keep my head down
The only company I need is the autumn leaves, falling, dancing -
One bumps into me, softly,
Asks me to save it from getting stepped on -
So I whisper something in return.
I hold it up and see a hand,
Not mine, all fleshy and pink,
That’s holding the stem tight, like the string of a balloon -
It's as if I have an X-Ray in my grasp,
The dark spindly bones of the plant flap in the slight breeze,
Wave at me, from inside the fading earthy green of her glove.
In the distance, I hear laughter, loud and close.
The balloon bursts at the sound -
I imagine arms growing from the remnants,
Two, just long enough to hold me,
Then legs dangle down like roots, the perfect length to keep up with mine.
They're still laughing, like a shrill siren, but now they shout, too -
I start to fold, bend, crumple. When I open my eyes her hand is curled around mine,
A cane keeping me steady, holding me fast.
When she comforts me I see a full line of shining conkers in her mouth, beautifully intact,
Her hair shifts in the wind, long brown grass that sings -
But her smile wilts when she hears them,
She hates it too -
White wishes fly away from her dandelion eyes, as I will the tears away.
It's okay, don't cry -
They can’t hurt me today.
Her hand cracks as I grip it tighter,
The trees rustle up a cheer while we make our escape, together -
By the time I get home she's pulp, dust
That floats away on my knowing sigh.
Nothing, no one, ever stays.
Chloe Smith is a disabled and autistic writer and poet from the UK. She is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2015, and her poetry has been published in the 'Great British Write Off: Whispering Words' anthology, Rose Quartz Journal, and Cauldron Anthology. Her flash fiction has been published in Ellipsis Zine, TRAIN, Three Drops From a Cauldron, and The Ginger Collect. For more about her writing, please visit her website: https://chloesmithwrites.wordpress.com/. You can also find her on Twitter, @ch1oewrites.