I must have checked the inside pocket of my school blazer at least twenty times on the walk home. The Swallow sisters were incredibly selective when it came to friends. I often wondered whether it was that they could not agree on which people they liked or if they were so secure in having one another, outsiders were merely an accessory. I think it is more likely to be the latter, because whenever the opportunity arose they relished in putting on a bit of a performance.
Frog Hall Manor was a grand old house, the kind wealthy retired people ummed and ahhed at on property programmes, admiring the period features. Mum said they must have inherited it, there was no way two music teachers could afford such a place.
I arrived at twelve on the dot, spare clothes and snacks in tow. Jane greeted me at the door, requesting I remove my shoes and follow her to the festival area. She walked very quickly, it was a struggle to keep up, my socks slipping on the glossy dark oak floorboards. As we reached the door to the library she swiftly moved to one side, sure not to block my view so I had the full effect.
The door creaked open with her small, pale palm pressed down against it. Tents of all colours were pitched amongst the books and the instruments and the busts of historical figures. A few familiar faces popped out, each in a tent.
They played music all through the night. We painted one another’s faces, transformed into a tribe of wild creatures. We invented games, picking books at random and reading an excerpt in the most whimsical way imaginable. Midnight snacks consisted of lavender lemonade and asparagus tips wrapped in prosciutto to dip in soft-boiled eggs that had tiny flowers hand painted all over the shell.
Every time I see the canary yellow yolk of an egg I think of that night.
Photo: Little Gatherer
Inspiration: The Daily Post