Ella would have given anything to take after her mother. Well, maybe not quite anything. Not the pebble with stripes just like a tiger she’d found on the beach, and not the notebook with a soft velvety cover where she wrote her stories. Though Ella was advanced for her 8 years, she wouldn’t quite have known the word “tactile” but knew she loved the touch of both of them, as much as the look.
And it was the same with the collages her mother made. She painted pictures and made models, too, but Ella loved the collages more than anything else. When they were finished and the glue dry, she was positively encouraged to touch them. And as her eyes drunk in the colours, her fingers rejoiced in the textures and she could have sworn she heard them sing. Her attempts had always gone wrong. Of course, she didn’t expect to be able to make ones like her Mum’s. But she couldn’t even make them like her classmates could!
It was dispiriting. Even her Mum tried to let her down gently and say that her real gift was for words. And she loved to write. But oh, she wanted to make one of those collages of her own.
A dull and rainy day genuinely made you feel worse, though she enjoyed splashing in puddles. Now she stared out of the window at what her Dad, who was tidy but indulgent, called the “messy bit” of the garden, and she took out her velvety-covered notebook, and started to write down all she saw – the downy heads of dandelions and the brittle brightness of dried-out berries, and the way the soft curtain of ranks of frost-nipped raindrops seemed to hold them all together. She wrote and wrote, and used some long words and some simple ones, and some practical observations and some flights of fancy.
Her Mum had entered the room, but, as she always did, let her finish writing, and then asked if she might see it. Ella nodded, and her Mum read it. “What a beautiful collage,” she said.