First Look

By Emma Evans


This piece was written after (and inspired by) attending HCE’s launch event for The Green Issue. (For more information or to purchase your copy, visit our shop.)


Blades of grass gently spike the soles of her feet as she takes her first steps across the garden. It’s a new house, a new space to explore and it hadn’t been warm enough before now. Winter lingered longer than expected, only now to be edged out by spring. She falls at the foot of the flowerbed, face-planting each of the “pretties” growing before her one by one and inhaling their smell deeply. She sings to them, her toddler-melody as sweet as the scent from the flowers themselves. Her way to say she loves something when she doesn’t yet have the words to say exactly that.

She drags herself away from the flowers, the lure of a brightly coloured plastic wheelbarrow and a spade, matching the life-size adult ones that tower over her when she’s next to them, too much to handle. She excitedly stumbles around the garden pushing the wheelbarrow and stopping – her legs going much faster than her brain can process – back at the flowers she’d face-planted not ten minutes before. The “pretties” are still pretty, and gently she shuffles soil around them, ignoring warnings not to dig the flowers up, they need to be left alone to grow.

She insists she wants to help, shuffling soil around is apparently not doing so in the slightest, so instead she squeals for water in her own little red and green plastic watering can and stands – for once, she is the one towering – over the plants, angling the can towards them and watches with wide eyes as the fountain of water drowns them.


Lindsay stands at the bifold doors, her hands enveloping a hot mug of tea. Spring has taken charge and made her changes in the garden. The snowdrops and daffodils are coming into bloom, daisies peeking through too when they are so used to being intertwined within fingers of daisy chain-making children. Lindsay watches Autumn stumble, shout about the “pretties” and have her attention pulled from the flowers she almost falls into, to the brightly coloured plastic monstrosity of a wheelbarrow and spade.

As Alan delivers a plate of favoured biscuits (‘definitely no gingernuts, as requested’), he hands Lindsay a polaroid. She looks at it – a little girl, her head nestled in the flowers, her favourite plastic wheelbarrow and spade close to hand, with the caption “ahhh, pretties!” – and looks up at the garden in front of her. There’s a little girl, her head nestled in the flowers singing the same melodies as Lindsay once did when she didn’t have the language capabilities, with her wheelbarrow and spade close by.

Winter was giving away to spring when Lindsay got her first look. Now winter was giving away to spring when Autumn gets her first look too.