‘So did you get into trouble, then?’ Ivy asked, swinging nonchalantly. The school was closed that afternoon for teacher training; Tristan had spotted Ivy on the swings in the park across the road and had hurried over to talk to her. He wasn’t going against his parents, not really. Ivy wasn’t a stranger.
‘Kind of,’ he answered, kicking the dirt underneath the swing. ‘They were just really worried about me.’
‘At least you’ve got someone to be worried about you,’ Ivy mumbled. No-one had noticed that she’d come in half an hour after curfew. She’d just crawled into bed and curled up to nurse the remainder of her hangover.
‘They gave me a phone, though!’ Tristan dug about in his pockets and produced Matt’s old mobile phone, showing it to Ivy. ‘It’s old, but I don’t care.’
‘That doesn’t matter. Just tell everyone it’s retro,’ Ivy grinned. ‘So, what’re you doing at scouts this week, then?’
‘Bug catching. I bet I’ll be useless at it.’ Tristan stuffed his phone back in his pocket.
‘Bloody hell, Trist, can you do anything? Come on. Let’s get you a head start. I know somewhere where there are millions of butterflies!’
* * *
‘Leaping llamas, Ivy! How do you know all about these places!’
Tristan gazed at the clearing in wonder. A rock formation lay directly in its centre, and trees and wild flowers were dotted about around it. And little flocks of butterflies were everywhere. It was beautiful.
‘Well, I walk around a lot. I like being outside, feeling the warmth of the sun and finding new places. You don’t find things like this if you don’t look for them,’ Ivy shrugged.
‘It’s amazing!’ The location had taken Tristan’s breath away.
Ivy laughed, enjoying Tristan’s reaction. ‘Right, you! We’re not here to look. Let’s get you catching some butterflies!’
Sitting back, Ivy watched as Tristan ran himself ragged trying to capture one of the winged insects. He was going about it in all the wrong ways; he was literally chasing them around, scaring them off before he got within grabbing distance. After half an hour, he finally managed to pounce on one.
‘Ivy, look! I’ve finally… Hey!’
In his relief, Tristan hadn’t kept a tight enough hold on the already panicked butterfly; it had simply flown from his hand. Crestfallen, Tristan watched it fly away.
‘Well. I nearly got one. That’s something, I guess.’
Ivy smiled sympathetically. ‘Don’t worry about it, Tristan. Look, here’s an easier way. You were being too fast before, they were getting scared and flying away from you. You need to be slower.’ Ivy demonstrated her technique, creeping along the ground. ‘Of course, you can always cheat a little.’
Scanning the flowers, Ivy picked a red one and proceeded to rub it on her hand. ‘If you get a little nectar on the palm of your hand it’ll attract them. Here,’ she handed the flower over to him, ‘try it.’
Tristan did as he was told, and started the slow walk over to a fluttering rabble of red admirals. Tentatively, he held out a hand. He didn’t have to wait long until one landed on his outstretched palm, intrigued by the scent coming from it.
‘Ivy! Look!’ Tristan whispered in delight, being extra careful not to scare this one away. ‘I did it!’
‘Nice one, Trist!’ Ivy applauded. ‘You’ll have no trouble getting your badge now!’
Tristan stood and watched the butterfly on his hand until it flew away, disgruntled at the lack of food it found. As it flitted out of sight, he turned to face Ivy.
‘Thanks so much for teaching me, Ivy!’
‘Ah, it’s no problem kid. You’ve given me something to do, at least! Anyway, I don’t like seeing people made fun of. It’s no fun for them. At least now you can spend your time thinking up how to get revenge on those idiots in your scout group!’
Ivy and Tristan burst into companiable giggles. ‘Anyway, Tristan, I think we’d better start walking back into town now. It’s still early, but you probably shouldn’t be late again. Your parents would have my guts for garters!’
Tristan nodded in agreement. ‘Yeah, you’re right. Let’s go.’
‘If we’ve got time, we could always stop back at Central Park,’ Ivy thought aloud. ‘They’re having a grill off today, if we’re lucky we’ll get a free meal! They always cook too much at those things.’ Tristan drooled at the thought of the vast barbeque; it was hungry work, chasing butterflies!
* * *
The pair got back just as the grill off was getting into its stride. The air was awash with the smell of barbeque, and there were plates of hot dogs and burgers at every turn! Snaffling a whole platter of hot dogs, Ivy and Tristan sat on the edges at a picnic table.
‘Dees are guhd,’ Ivy said through a mouthful of her third hot dog, making Tristan laugh.
‘Are you serious, Miraj? He really said that?’
‘Yeah, I couldn’t believe it! He really tried to blame it on me! I just told the boss to check the CCTV footage. You should’ve seen his face! He didn’t know there were cameras around there!’
Across the park, Matt was stood talking to his colleague. ‘Anyway, Miraj, I’d best be getting back to the family now! I’ll see you Monday, yeah?’
‘Yeah mate, see you! Say hi to Cass and Tristan for me! Hey, you might want to pop over to the grill off before you leave. You’ll get a free hot dog!’
‘Who am I to say no to a free hot dog!’ Matt joked. ‘Thanks for the tip off!’
Waving goodbye, Matt strolled over to where the grill off was finally coming to a close. The competitors were clearing away their equipment, yet there were still a few plates of food going free. Scanning the plates to decide what he wanted, Matt clocked his son. Tristan? What’s he doing here? Matt thought. What – Huh? No…
He stopped dead, staring at his son’s companion who was sat waiting for him to finish his hot dog, saying something Matt couldn’t hear at this distance.
It can’t be… It’s not possible…
Matt was blown away. It was as if a vision of teenage Cassie was sat before him.