The only interruption to our routine was the occasional visits from Aunt Jessica.
She would arrive unannounced in a flourish of brightly coloured clothing and sweet treats that made our mouths water with anticipation. She would joke that we all flocked to her when she entered because we could smell the caramelised sugar and almond-scent of marzipan that clung to her after spending her mornings in the kitchen preparing for the visit.
“No,” we reassured, “it’s because we want to hear the rest of your story and find out what happened to the Gangly Lion.”
She would laugh then, a cacophony of notes that were as deliciously light as the pastry she made with juicy apricot filling. Her face would brighten and the purple eye shadow she so often wore would sparkle in the light. Immediately you felt cherished and important: as though she came to see you only. Of course, we all felt like that – it bonded us together as children and we accepted that, to Aunt Jessica, we would all be individually unique and, therefore, special: in our own way.
At such times we collected cushions and blankets and any available soft furnishings that we could in order to create a mountain of softness for our bodies to lounge upon. When we were all gathered, gorged on yummy snacks, she would begin and every one of us stretched our necks a fraction closer, just to listen, as she regaled us with adventures and mysteries that we had no choice but to believe were true.
The first sentence of today’s exercise is a random line from Emylia Hall’s The Book of Summers, which I happened to have on my bedside table at the time.