Flowers by Gracie Bawden

The summer of ‘07 was hot with youth. The old oaks’ new leaves danced limply in the lazy wind. Even the sea was thick with heat, its waves rolling over each other in a slow and smothering embrace. An old Bush radio blasted out the Arctic Monkeys' Fluorescent Adolescent which cut harshly through the air that lay stale between Gemma and Bailey.

They had hitched a ride there after school, as they often did, Gemma’s long bare legs catching the drivers’ eyes more so than her protruding thumb, the drivers’ predictable taken aback expressions as the girls asked for lifts to Larkton Woods. Decade old rumours of crazed men in torn tweed jackets wielding rusted old shotguns made Larkton woods a no-go area for kids and gullible dog walkers alike. The woods were theirs and theirs alone. It wore its ever-evolving rumours like a neatly polished ‘Do Not Enter’ sign.

Gemma had told Bailey about this spot beneath the trees the previous summer, and Bailey desperate to tame her doubts said that she was sure it was beautiful and would love to see it one day. Gemma had taken her that evening and Bailey had seen that she was completely right. Perhaps more right than anyone had ever been about anything. Just as now, the leaves had seeped a certain private, sepia light, and the willows drooping into the river seemed to exude a genuine beautiful sadness that Gemma once said could be bottled and sold as poetry. She was right about that too.

On this particular afternoon the sun lay so thick against their skin that Gemma interrupted their still silence to stand and remove her tight black school skirt. Lying, her hair matted with the rough dust beneath her Bailey watched Gemma unzip her skirt and behind her eyes flooded an image. She used to get it in her fishnets. Gemma unzipping her skirt, pulling gently at her silk pants to reveal a mass of thick flesh pink flowers. Big round dahlias and fat roses and primroses with fat black seeds. Remember when you used to be a rascal?

‘Sometimes I think I don’t want to ever leave this place’ Gemma said, looking up as if pleading to the umbrella branches above. She folded her skirt and laid back down. ‘Me too’ said Bailey, rolling onto her side and collecting the ground’s mossy summer scent.

Gracie spends her time at her home in Cornwall, England where she studies A levels in English, drama, and philosophy, with the intention of going to university to study Creative writing in September. To read more of her work you can follow her blog at