I was fourteen the first time it happened. It was a family picnic – the kind where your parents exhaust you and everything’s boring. I wandered off into a meadow of startling blue cornflowers. I was daydreaming about a boy at school, which was how I spent most of my time then. I remember the feel of the petals between my fingers as I touched them: soft, oily almost: like a cat’s ear. And then they vanished... all the cornflowers gone. And the field was full of celandines. It was that quick – like a flash of lightning – so sudden I wasn’t sure it was real. Blue to yellow. Just like that.
My brother came to find me.
“Dad says it’s time to go,” he said. I told him about the flowers, even though I didn’t normally tell him anything.
“Yeah, right,” he said. “Like a super power, only rubbish. Bet you can’t do it again.”
I reached out into the flowers. A breeze blew and some of the petals fluttered into my hair. I rubbed my fingers over them, and then, as though someone had changed the slide: daisies. We looked at each other.
“I knew you were weird,” he said triumphantly, as though all he’d been waiting for was proof.
I spent a lot of time after that trying to find a use for my skill. I used to think there was no way you’d get a gift like that if it wasn’t for something.
“Sometimes things just are,” my husband said the day after he found out.
On our wedding day, my fingers amongst the petals, the bouquet turned from sweet peas to calla lilies to spray roses like a fibre optic lamp. The flower girl stared at it in awe, her eyes as wide as oranges and her basket of petals clutched tightly in her tiny hands.