• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 05
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Mrs Cottrell’s Garden

I can’t remember much from back then but I do remember Mrs Cottrell’s garden. Rain or shine she kicked us out there in the morning. Any age, any size, any colour, out we went into the damp and the drizzle. If it properly rained, we all huddled under the corrugated plastic canopy while the droplets thundered above us like bullets.

I don’t remember details but I remember how it hurt in my tummy when I sat on her old white wicker garden chair, every morning. The hurt did go away eventually, usually after I saw you waddle up the path from the pond at the bottom of the garden. The first time we met, the older kids had stuck yellow fluff on top of your head to make you stand out from the other ducks. We all stood out here. Black with brown skin, brown with brown skin, yellow with pink skin and even orange with dotty skin.

“Chocolate Drop,” she called me. Was it because I was small and brown? Then she changed my name to something shorter and not so foreign.

There were two Richards, a tall one and a short one so we called them Big Richard and Little Richard. Amma made me a yellow party dress to match the bright yellow duck cake she made of you, for my third birthday. We had a tea party in the garden but I didn’t want anyone to cut you, so they only ate sky.

I would be here all day till Appa came for me. I was the last of the day kids to leave, usually when I was very sleepy and the serious man in a suit on the TV was saying words I didn't understand. The older kids would pinch me whenever I fell asleep. This was their home, for now anyway.