toads. Perhaps she mused, small hand fingering the long key, perhaps the grown ups were correct. Perhaps they, and the wicked world, accepted that the clocks going backwards decreed accuracy in the physical world. Was a scientific fact. And she alone was a dis- believer and thus misplaced in a selfish time belonging only to her. A bit like discovering yourself in the mushroom circle. Disappearing completely as the rest of the world carried on somewhere else. Until. Circles of black. No sounds overhead unless she listened and then they did. Claws and feathers. Flapflap. Round and above. Above the water they flew. Making such a racket that the park seemed to squeeze itself smaller in irritation. Like Daddy. He was always irritated. Mainly with her. The magpies seemed to follow the thread on a route to the north of the park. You had to count them. It was rule. Like poetry having to rhyme. And not turning over the corners of pages in books. She hadn’t really been up there much because her wellingtons became heavy and after about an hour or so, her calves ached and she got hungry. She stopped midway to look more closely at the thread. It was quite thin. Like the one that new girl had worn to school before the long summer holidays. And the teacher had said to them all to be kind because the little girl didn’t go to school because she travelled with fairground people. Or gypsies. Or some such. Her mother was calling to her. From back beyond the red thread.