Belinda sat on the bottom step and leant her crossed arms on her knees, her head on her arms. Her eyes were closed. and damp. The skin on her arms was speckled with goosebumps in the wind.
After a moment she lifted her head and looked across the yard. The wind swirled the leaves on the grass in little eddies. The gingko tree was shedding.
One of its tiny fans drifted to the bottom step and settled by Belinda’s right shoe, upside down, its dull brown-green underside mimicking Belinda’s brown school shoes. She stared at the leaf, at its dull soft underside, at its pretty fan shape, oriental. She’d often collected the gingko leaves and kept them on her bedroom windowsill. She liked their shape.
Today she merely turned her head sideways on her arms and stared a while at the leaf lying by her shoes. Dusk was falling. The air was chilly. She thought of the things her mother had said, the things her father had said, of the marmalade smashed on the kitchen floor. She thought of the dog yelping, and of her little brother crying.
A tear welled up again, and she felt its saltiness as it trickled down her cheek to her lips, and then it dropped, so lightly, on to the back of the gingko leaf.