‘You’re not the boss o me!’
Leah yanked the back door open and then slammed it to behind her. She crunched over the cinder path along their steep garden towards the moor. Over the handmade stile into the cow pasture and still up and up. No stopping while she reached the furthest drystone wall. Beyond that lay bracken and heather.
On a good day, you could look down from here onto the roofs of their terrace. See clouds reflected in skylights, hear washing softly flapping. But today wasn’t a good day.
Today everything drooped limp and sodden. Mizzle hung on spider webs, dragging them into distorted cages. Only a dull gleam on slate showed where the row of houses stood. A dark blur in the soaking mist she never wanted to see again. Chilly drops prickled her cheeks and sat in grey beads on her sleeves.
Why couldn’t she keep em? She’d hand-reared em, foraged food for em, cleaned em out regular. Nobdy could say she hant cared for em. She peered through the murk for the green o the hutch roof. No joy. Never any joy.
She stomped uphill, through a layer of cloud and out onto a wide, bare moor. Light shocked her. Warmth greeted her wi open arms like her nan, smelling o sheep, peat and honey.
Yet sunshine dotted the tops. It threw bright patches on clumps of purple ling and burnt orange bracken. Just how it had been when her father found the leverets cowering. The same uprising skylark’s song, rippled pools and cart track puddles. She pulled her shawl tight to her ears but the never-forgotten shriek of the trap-caught hare still got through.
That day had caught up here like wool on brambles.
What was she thinking? How could she fashion to tame those small wild souls? They had to be free up here like their mother.
Leah picked blackberries. She took em home to Mam, keeping em tucked in her shawl away from the strange clouds .
There were no need to say owt. They’d run free soon enough.