Betty wishes she’d brought her cardigan with her now. The morning looked fine and sunny from her bedroom window but this far out there aren’t as many trees to shield the chill of the wind and goosebumps are starting to prick her skin.
But it doesn’t matter how shivery she might be feeling because she’s been given a very important task to carry out; a lot more important than how warm her cardigan might make her if she’d thought about bringing it along.
She fills six year old lungs with the sweet smell of the meadow and makes a wish that one day she’ll be able to recite the names of trees and flowers the way her mummy can. Something sharp digs into the soft underside of her foot and she leans on Barney to pull out a twig which has caught in the buckle of her sandle. Sensing he’s been of assistance, Barney raises deep, dark brown eyes and blinks his pleasure at the girl, sniffing the air as she has been doing. Then he sits down.
Betty knows this is going to be difficult to say and even more difficult for him to understand, but she has to do it; she’s been asked to do it. Without taking her hand from his fur, she curls her arm around his solid neck and lets her fingers play with the stitching on his collar which makes her feel calmer. She starts counting the number of holes the needle has made in the leather, like counting sheep when she finds it hard to sleep; when the muffled sounds of raised voices from downstairs filter up and into her bedroom and she can’t make out what the words are but instinctively knows they are not good ones.
Thinking about her cardigan lying across the arm of the chair in her bedroom, Betty rubs one arm with her free hand, which produces brief warmth and fires her resolve. She takes a deep breath the way her mummy did earlier.
‘Now you have to understand,’ Betty says, ‘that it’s not because of anything you’ve done; or haven’t done. And it doesn’t mean they don’t love you anymore. It’s just something that sometimes happens and they don’t expect you to understand yet, but one day you might.’
Written in response to the www.creativewritingink.co.uk prompt 24/11/16