In the winter, it was nothing much to look at – a scrubby triangle of grass studded with cans and crisp packets. But on a day like today, with the sun glinting off the broken garage windows at the back, and the tree thick with leaves and the tiny, spiked beginnings of conkers – on a day like today it was irresistible.
Mily had English homework to hand in tomorrow – they had to write a story set in the future: peak oil, climate change, robots. She’d got as far as secret portals to alternative realities, but she was running out of energy. Her bedroom was hot and stuffy. From her window, she could see the patch of grass in the industrial estate across the road – like a cool, green pool.
She left her radio on and her school books open, so that if anyone looked, they’d think she’d just slipped away for a minute or two. The industrial estate was Out Of Bounds. Her mother’s mouth went all tight at the edges when she even mentioned it. But there was treasure to be found there – reels of shiny copper wire, old shoes, perfect metal circles. Mily closed the flat door as quietly as she could and ran down the stairs – six concrete flights.
The triangle of grass sat wedged between twin buildings – single storey, with flaking paint on their window frames. She bent down, and unlaced her shoes, left them at the edge of the grass with her socks pushed into the toes. As she walked, the ground began to soften and cool. Within minutes she found herself wading through shallow green water, which stretched away into the distance as far as she could see. Her mother would never believe it, Mily thought, as the water deepened and she started to swim.
Inspired by David’s answer to the question: Where is your secret garden? May 20th, 7.04pm,