Here Heather Hopes


This girl Heather here with the striped dress puts her hand over her heart and hopes. She wants to pledge allegiance to something but she can’t think what. Nothing seems big enough or good enough or inspiring enough to make her want to swear any kind of obedience to it.

She stands there and thinks of all the things she likes instead. She thinks of water and fish and streams and silver birch trees and bracken and a kingfisher and a cloud passing overhead. She thinks of hedgehogs and foxes and birdsong and cuckoo spit and nettles and dockleaf and the sound of a dog barking far off through the woodland.

She thinks of Tuesday morning long ago lying in bed, of cotton and fur and clay tiles and the smell of rain on hot concrete, of lichen on a big rock, of paper clips and hole punches and rubber bands and the face of a surprised policeman in a riot.

It all comes tumbling in like a tactile packet of confetti fluttering down across her mind, a snowstorm, a summer shower and a sudden gust of wind, a forgotten song and a distant holiday beach with windbreaks and broken plastic spades and the feel of sand blowing across the dunes.

“Is any of this good or bad?” she wonders. “Is any of it something you can rely on? Is there anything in it that you can hold onto or will it all slip away?” she asks, but she gets no answers even from the rocks and the trees. She knows there’s no sense and no explanation for how she feels but she still wants to do something about it anyway. She pledges allegiance to the whole empty everything and carries on with her day.

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