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The strawberry fields of Gostinya

I begin to sir from a blissful sleep. I shake the hat off my head and immediately feel the heat swirl around my head. I steady myself before perching on my arm.

I look around. I am in one of my parents strawberry fields, five miles from Gostinya a small farming village in Bulgaria not far from the Romanian border. It is August, the strawberry picking season. I am twelve with no brothers or sisters so I must harvest alone.

The hottest part of the day has passed which means I should return to work. 'Just a few more minutes' I say to myself. My parents have gone to look at a neighbour's horse which is for sale. I can allow myself a few more minutes, there is no one else to move me along.

I lay back again. I see sky and strawberry plants, I hear them jostling in the wind. I feel a tickle on my left arm, I am about to wipe it away when I start to giggle. I look down and see a ladybird in the bend of my arm bobbing about.

My giggling turns to laughter and soon I am rolling around among the ripened berries. I can't stop laughing the ladybird isn't going anywhere. She tickles, I laugh, I roll.

She tickles, I laugh, I roll.

I am about to let out another deep laugh when I notice the tickling has stopped, I watch the ladybird casually fly away. But now my arm is beginning to throb, I have never felt pain like it. 'Have I been bitten, stung, poisoned?'

'Help' I yell, 'Help!' But it is useless there is no one for miles.

I throb, I cry, I roll.

I throb, I cry, I roll.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see my father. I see the anger in his face. He is not looking at me but at his flattened strawberry crop surrounding me.

He is furious, pointing, stomping, kicking.

Pointing, stomping, kicking.

I am covered in strawberry juice and pips, my arm is still throbbing.


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