Pair the socks, he says. She couples black with blue, red with green. Tidy the tins. She mixes tomatoes with beans. Sort the rubbish. She plants cress seeds in a yoghurt pot. Highlight the nouns and verbs, he says. She underlines adverbs and adjectives too. Memorise the eight times table. She learns six, seven and nine. Write three hundred words on your favourite character. She writes three thousand and could go on. Be back by ten, he says. She doesn't come home. Don't go out alone at night. She hitches to London. Phone once a week. She calls him every day. At college, she studies the physiology of a horse, adds a horn. Takes a fin from a fish, gives it an engine, splinters the sky, explodes a shed. Hangs it in a gallery. What a mess, he would say, if only he could.
Alison Woodhouse
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