Ceridwen Hillam watched the blurred fields of flowers and wheat fly by, mesmerized by their gloriously bright colours. Stunning reds and yellows selflessly flung themselves at the passing cars; gentle shades of green and beige balanced the painting. Strips of shadows regularly dimmed her view every time they drove beneath a bridge or through a tunnel. A sudden swoosh of smelly air met the girl and her parents, resulting in the windows hurriedly being wound up and a resonating chuckle at their synchronized reactions. The wind that previously scraped back Ceri’s strawberry-blonde bob, revealing a valley of small bumps on her forehead and a pair of well-trained eyebrows, disappeared in an instant. Her hair settled messily around her cheeks just as they passed the first field of grazing cows.
Dull, relentless droning of the car racing through air could still be heard. Playful bunnies scattered from the grass verge to the hedgerow in fear of the roaring machine that sped by. Birds took to the sky in terror and squawked mockingly at the cars below before soaring back towards Wales. In the distance, the toll bridge could barely be seen as it dipped below the horizon.
Ceri sat in the back of the car, frantically catching up on her holiday homework that was due in on the first day back. The task was to review either a play or film, and she had gleefully taken the play route, using one of her all-time favourites by Shakespeare for inspiration. Despite her excessive interest in the performing arts, particularly drama, Ceri had still waited until the last minute to start her review. Her winter holidays had been spent with the extended Hillam family – cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who all lived in her hometown, Old Cwmbran. With all the excitement of Christmas and the overwhelming celebrations of New Year’s, anything related to Ceri’s new life in London had been completely disregarded, locked in a box and shoved to the back of her mind.
The car’s company mentally groaned in unison as they reached the outskirts of London. Arrogant revving and persistent honking welcomed them as traffic piled up on the surrounding streets. Perhaps it was just that they had over-enjoyed their stay in the small, tranquil community, or maybe that everyone else was desperate to get back home after the break, but London seemed far busier than usual either way. It took them nearly an hour to sluggishly creep through the wet and miserable streets. Scraggly-looking pigeons cooed in discordant harmonies from the flat rooftops and window ledges, hobbling sideways to make room for their feathered friends in search of a perch.
One by one, mother, father and daughter stepped out into the dreary, overcast world after parking in spot forty-two, just in view of their kitchen window. Ceri subconsciously tugged down the sleeve of her thick coat, tucking away the absence of her right hand. Something about the unfriendly atmosphere that was so different from where she had just been knocked her confidence tremendously. Back in Wales, she was fully accepted from birth and had no issue with completing daily tasks with just one hand. However, people in London were cruel and constantly brought her down. Some quipped, others sneered. Evil jibes were thrown from all directions and Ceri was endlessly trapped in a dangerous maze where each and every turn led to disaster.
Once handed her suitcase, a faded pink one, embroidered with childish floral designs, Ceri carefully made her way to the communal door, taking every precaution not to slip on the slush-coated pavement. It couldn’t have been more than two-hundred metres, but Ceri’s dad still nearly came crashing down on his knees, drawing out a honk of laughter from his wife, Tammy.
“Careful, Graham, you silly whatsit!” She teased him, taking his arm for the remaining walk to the block of flats.
Ceri paused at the door, waiting for her parents to catch up and scan their card to open it. Her reflection stared back pitifully, hazel eyes swirled and mashed into the rest of her face by lingering raindrops. Clunk and the door swung open, revealing a minimalistic lobby lined with smart rows of letter boxes and the occasional fake house plant. Bright white walls, cream carpets, L.E.D lights and the help of some very diligent cleaners kept the place looking immaculate – like a fancy show home. Down the corridor and up the stairs, it was the exact same, as if each square metre had been copied-and-pasted straight from the last. After multiple twists and turns through the impeccable labyrinth, the trio were finally wiping their boots on a colourful welcome mat and lining up their suitcases in the hallway.
“You’d better make a start on that soon, Ceridwen. You won’t have time, otherwise,” her dad suggested, eyeing up the stack of school books next to the kettle.
She grumbled a faint response before reluctantly sliding a maths book out of the pile and letting it fall open to an unfinished test. In fact, there wasn’t even a spot of ink on the page.
“Here you are, whatsit. You’ll be done before you know it.”
“Thanks,” Ceri mumbled through a mouthful of toast that had just been gifted to her.
Any person thinking logically would have planned ahead and completed all the homework in stages, despite it being the holiday season. However, Ceri had insisted that there was no need for her to do the same, and now she was suffocating in pages upon pages of regret. Fortunately for her, she could plough through it with her favourite musician in her ears – Yuni. The music, a hammering sound with the element of innocent beauty, perfectly matched the room she sat in. Framed posters, pastel bed sheets and the very essence of happiness tied the room together, making it the perfect habitat for Yuni’s biggest fan.
This is the first part of a short story by Heather. Follow Heather on Instagram and Wattpad @centaur_h. Stay tuned for the next part!