milk daisies open provocatively to the sun. i lie among them tasting felt stems, caressing leafy fingers, sucking scent. i sway with their petals towards the midday heat.
‘Sarah.’ Her voice forces daisies shut. My mother’s pleated skirt and cream buttoned blouse block light. ‘Come inside.’ The command echoes through grasses pulling me tight, making me sit up and cover my breasts and downy hair because i am naked.
My mother shakes her head with her hair tied tightly back into a dark brown ponytail. She can’t see me hidden in the grass. Suddenly i think my mother looks like a schoolgirl. i half laugh slipping into my cotton dress, rising from the grass to stumble towards my mother with my hair wispy brown.
i am seventeen.
My mother is forty-two. i know that is very old because she never plays in the field or dances in the night or sleeps in my father’s bed. But my father is not old. He is fifty. Men stay young i think.
i tell my father, ‘i want to be a man.’
My father shakes his head. ‘I want you to be a girl.’ His black moustache follows his lip upward into a curve like a soft sweet banana. He brushes my cheek gently. He has a girlfriend. i saw him once going up narrow stairs and heard a woman’s voice calling him.
My mother cries in her buttoned blouse. They argue. i hate my father then.
i don’t want to marry my father anymore like when i was a little girl. i want to marry a boy different to my father but – with my father’s warm hands opening to encompass me and a soft black moustache. All the boys i know have cottony black fluff waiting insecurely on their top lip.
All the boys i know laugh at schoolgirls whose bodies are forming and whose breasts are not fully gown. i won’t wear a uniform to hide my body like my mother who’s afraid. i won’t lock up my body subverting deep urges to blankets and sterile linen. But can i expose my breasts to moustacheless boys with erections and voices that boast to other boys – I had Sarah in the fields?
No one will have Sarah, then. Only me.
There is a boy. An inventor. He connects bulbs and wires into light and earth. He shows me his discoveries, rippling the meadow of daisies.
We laugh in the grasses and flowers, investigating scents and pollens and furry pods in the midday heat.
There are no lies, like my father’s yet. And his hands are warm, caressing. I touch the black down on his lip unleashing me.