When a fierce gust lifted Billie off her feet she was lucky Mum was there. Mum’s fingers felt slippery from coconut hand cream slapped on just before, when the wind was a breeze as they strolled along the seafront.
‘Grip my wrists, Billie. Slide your hands up. Hold on tight.’ Mum had to shout.
Billie was scared. A salty blast shot up her nose and her shoes blew off as if sucked from her feet by an ice-dragon. Her socks were loosening. Her dress fluttered around – a flag on top of a castle. Mum eased backwards onto the grass, leaning away from Billie.
‘You’re all right, love. I won’t let go.’
The wind whistled through Billie’s ears, her eyeballs were ice cubes and her hair was being pulled out at the roots. Mum’s hair flapped around as she gritted her teeth and braced her legs.
She smiled, yelling, ‘Good job I’ve got a big bum.’
Mum always said it was too much takeaway pizza and yummy teashop cakes. Despite her situation Billie let out a giggle, which the wind whisked away. She felt Mum’s jade bracelet beneath her fingers, the one Dad gave her their last Christmas together.
Billie felt her socks go, left then right. She flippered her feet up and down like at the pool. The wind was trying to pull her across the bay but Mum appeared to be even stronger. She’d wedged her heels further into the grass. Their eyes met and they laughed. Billie felt safe. Dad had gone but Mum wouldn’t let go of Billie so easily.
Sometimes Mum forgot to put the rubbish out or spent the electricity change on ice creams, which had to be eaten in the dark wrapped in blankets. It’d been weeks since she’d hoovered. She’d taken Billie to school one day and it turned out to be Saturday but however windy it got and however long it went on for, Billie knew Mum would hold on tight.