The Tulip Touuch

I saw lots of her at school. She had no other friends. Nobody else could stand the embarrassment of pretending that they believed her awful lies.
‘The army's borrowing one of our fields today. When I get home, they're going to let me drive a tank’
'Oh, I really believe that, Tulip!'
'So likely!'
They'd walk off, scoffing. I'd stare at the ground, and, guess what, I'd feel sorry for her. I knew she was making a fool of me in front of everyone. (Only an idiot would make a show of believing her rubbish.) But instead of just walking away, exasperated, like everyone else, I'd try taking her arm and distracting her.

`Want to play Road of Bones on the way home?'
She'd shake me off, rude and ungrateful. Even back then I had to ask myself why I stayed around. It wasn't out of pity, I knew that. Nobody has to carry on telling ridiculous lies, even if it's obvious that no one believes them.
'I've won a big competition. I found a scratchcard in my cornflakes and I was lucky. So now I've won this beautiful yellow silk dress’
Next time we bought sweets in Harry's supermarket, I'd linger by the breakfast cereal shelves.
'There's nothing about a competition on any of these packets’
'No. It was a scratchcard inside’
'Strange that no one else has got one’
'They only sent out a few as a special anniversary thing. That's why the prize is a yellow silk dress. It's the very same one that the model wore in their first advert’
That's what Dad came to call “The Tulip Touch”—that tiny detail that almost made you wonder if she might, just for once, be telling the truth.
'And then this man went grey and keeled over. And as I was phoning for the ambulance, his fingers kept twitching, and his wedding ring made a tiny little pinging noise against the metal of the drain.
`So I wasn't at school because the police needed one extra person my age and size, for a line-up. They wouldn't say why they'd arrested the girl, but one of them did tell me that he thought she was Polish’...