Or Hats

The child presses her nose to the window, still shy with the driver, this woman who is not yet her mother. Out on the road, a woman in pink sprouts tiny balloons for hair. A white plastic bag becomes a dove. This is the game the child plays. Smuggled from the other place, where staircases soared into space and corrugated sheets danced like striped dresses. Windscreen cracks snuggled friendly spiders. Bullet holes on a rusty white van bled a flock of birds against a bleached morning sky. At a junction the car stops. "Look," says the child, forgetting herself, "hats!" The woman glances over at a bush on the roadside, its leaves in floppy layers. She hesitates. "Leaves," she says, gently. The child turns back, drops her forehead against the glass. The woman makes a soft gulping sound, like a fur-balled cat. "Or hats," she says.
Linda Grierson-Irish