Keisha snorted. ‘That’s well easy.’ She looked up at the sky and added, ‘I miss year six homework.’
Gheeta wanted to shake her and scream that it wasn’t easy, that she’d been trying for ages and she couldn’t do it, but instead she looked down at her notebook and the crossed out words.
‘Why don’t you tell it to me?’ said Keisha. ‘I don’t know the story of The Snow Queen. It might help?’
Gheeta had no idea why Keisha was being so nice to her, but she wasn’t going to throw away the chance to be friends again by asking. Perhaps Keisha had had a fight with Courtney. An argument way worse than the day of the chilli peppers.
Gheeta thought about the story of The Snow Queen and how best to tell it. It suddenly seemed important that she used exactly the right words.
‘It starts with a mirror,’ she explained.
‘Like, “mirror mirror on the wall”?’ asked Keisha, singing out the words and swinging her head slightly from side to side.
‘Different. See, this one was made by a nasty goblin. It was an evil mirror. When you looked in it, all you saw was bad stuff.’
"You mean like my wonky teeth?’ asked Keisha pointing at the teeth in the bottom of her mouth that were slightly crossed over one another. ‘Or my massive honker of a nose?’
Gheeta laughed. ‘There’s nowt wrong with your face. A bit like that, but also the world itself. It made the mountains and the sky and ‘owt like that all ugly.’
‘Wonder what it would do to the flats?’
The girls looked up at the place they called home. Streets In The Sky, they’d been called. Even with the sun on them they still looked drab. Someone came out onto their balcony. Shouted something into the air, waved a fist, then went back inside.
‘Not much I don’t reckon,’ Keisha said, answering her own question. ‘What happened to the mirror?’
‘Well the goblin thought it was a right laugh, making it all ugly, so he took it up high, t’shine down on everything underneath. But it broke and all the tiny pieces got blown across the world.’
‘Some of those tiny pieces got all over and caused all sorts o’trouble. See, if one of them nasty bits got into your eye, you looked out at everything like you was looking in that horrible mirror.’
Keisha made a sucking noise through her teeth. Gheeta knew this meant she was thinking it through.
‘And if one got into your heart it turned it t’ice,’ added Gheeta.
‘Cold! Like the goblin crawled right inside.’
‘Yeah, and it happened to this kid, this boy called Kay.’
‘Kay? What? That’s a girls name.’
‘He kind of was like a girl.’
Keisha laughed. ‘Like a sissy?’
Gheeta shook her head. ‘No, I mean kind and sorta sweet. His best friend was a girl and they lived next door to each other. They were both right poor and every day they played together. They had a window box between their houses and they grew roses in it. They met up on this balcony thing.’ Gheeta was thinking about the terrace outside their own flats and about all the plants and herbs they had grown together, basil, mint, parsley, coriander. Even the chilli peppers had been good, before the argument.
‘It was sort of nice, for a bit.’
Keisha snorted again, but she was almost smiling. Gheeta hoped she too was remembering their own balcony and window box of herbs.
‘But when Kay got those mirror splinters he turned right nasty and ripped up their roses.’ Gheeta rushed the words out. Would Keisha remember that was what she had done? How she had ripped up the pepper plants when they had stung her eye? How she had said their growing box was for babies? How she had not talked to Gheeta since?
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