2013-01-24 00:00



MY father grew up at King’s School in Nottingham Road where the trees are tall and freedom sings through the olive, dry grass. He grew up in a liberal home, constantly pulsating with eclectic people and ideas. He was taught William Blake and chanted The Tiger in forts made from thick bamboo and stolen straw from the horses’ haystacks.

He was blessed with seven sisters and cursed to be the youngest, but certainly not the smallest in terms of his spirit for youthful mischief and adventure. From all his stories bathed in some sort of nostalgic and ethereal light, the best took place when the moon was ripe and hung heavy in the sky, illuminating a path to adventure.

My father, a child, looked up at the thatched roof while counting the lengthening tides of slumbering breaths. His own was faster, his pulse a little quicker, for tonight he was to be included in a most secret and sacred of rituals. After a time, he turned over to find his partners, Tanya, Luci and Claudia, grinning at one another in the darkness. Together they pulled back blankets and edged their way through the maze of remaining sisters into the dying light from the fire and now threatening hum of the old refrigerator. They stood still a long while, listening for the creak of a spring or the grunt of a disturbed sleeper. With practised feet, the three sisters made their way to the door and stepped out into the winter night, the small figure of my privileged father creeping quietly behind.

Past the half-wild horses restlessly shuffling and snuffling in their stables, regarding the night figures with cocked ears, they trod. The grey Percheron stallion Zorba’s red eyes glowed feral in the darkness. The half-frozen grass crunched under their small leather boots as they crossed the deserted cricket pitch to the tallest of the Cyprus trees, their jackets bulging with stolen tins of revered condensed milk.

Up the tree they climbed, until they were sitting face to face with the moon, pale in its watery light. Their happiness and contentment caught on a slight breeze and settled in the highest of branches, a memory kept safe in the arms of the tallest Cyprus Tree.

“Moontree”, they called her.

‘‘Moonchildren”, she whispered.

About the writer:

CRISTINA Carlyle-Mitchell is a pupil at St Anne’s Diocesan College. ‘I like listening to good music, driving at night and winter time. I don’t like slow Internet and swimming galas.’

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