15

The road leading to the gates was greyish in its grandeur, but busy. They were being buffeted by sounds and screeches, the excitement clashing with remnants of the night before. But see there, across the grass, lying flat and limp like skins of things once full now empty. Claire was saying that the tiger one reminded her of a rug in her dad’s father’s house, and Liam smiled because of her funny way of saying it. Prickly still, but not as much. Then, whirring, flames jumping out and up and warming the air. Claire was pointing, the first one’s about to go, look! And the cheer went up in waves. Another and another but Liam, still clinging on, was staring at the griffin flapping impotently on the ground. So she slipped her hand into his and he looked up despite himself, and saw elephants and champagne bottles, giants and hobbits and hot-air balloons, rising up and up and replacing the sky with a collage of extraordinary colour.

Helen Sedgwick

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