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An excerpt for Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) 2022

Below is an excerpt from my novel Among the Fields of Daisies. As yet unpublished, Daisies is a story in second person exploring the psychological and environmental factors that lead my unnamed protagonist to develop an eating disorder, and the implications the disease has on her life and relationships.

Eating disorders affect 1 in 50 young people. For more information or support, visit Beat.

Age 4

“Pat-cake pat-cake, fast as you can!” you sing as egg number two goes crack and splat, opening its jaws and out comes yellow, plop into flour, puffing up in a cloud of dryness.

Daddy says Mummy isn’t good at cooking, only heating up. But that’s not always true - she is good at pudding, and not the Yorkshire kind.

“Okay,” says Mummy in a long voice, carrying Louis back down from his nap, “here we go.” She lifts him into his wheely walker, his favourite for running.

“How are we getting on?” asks Mummy as Louis’s wheels start clackety-clacking over kitchen tiles. You lift out the spoon to let her check for lumps, some cake goo getting splatted on the table. “Careful!” Mummy’s hand moves the spoon back to the bowl.

Beep goes the oven.

“Is it ready for cooking now?” you ask.

“My turn?” Mummy takes the spoon away, mixing faster than you can. “Why don’t you pop some cases into that tray,” says Mummy, nodding at the flowery wrappers.

You can do this bit best. Yellow goes in dip number one, then blue in two, then pink, then green. All the colours in a row. And again, for line number two, then for line number three, pretty in a pattern until blue runs out, and you have to start the pattern again from the other way, just with three.

“All finished?” asks Mummy. Nod, hands slapping down for Mummy to move the tray. Louis bashes into your chair, dribbly wet down his front.

“Hello Lowly,” you say, patting his fluffy head. “Did you have a nice time doing napping?”

Mummy uses two spoons for emptying the bowl: one for spooning and one for scraping chocolate brown dollops into their wrappings, heavying them down.

You want to have a go. But I want doesn’t get.

“Tell me which ones need more,” says Mummy.

Kneeling up, you peer over the wrapper edges. “That one,” say, pointing inside pink number three. Dollop makes her taller. “And him,” you say, pointing to green number four. But that dollop is too much and now you can’t tell which ones are more lesser than the others, so Mummy dollops without you telling.

“There we go,” Mummy says. “Shall we put them in the oven?”

“Can I do the carrying?”

“Okay,” says Mummy, “but I’ll do the oven bit.”

Louis bashes into the table leg as you lay your arms out flat for Mummy to place the tray on top. “Careful not to drop them.”

Shuffling forward, you keep your eyes on the wrappings, watching them wriggle in their holes. Mummy opens the oven with a dragon roar of hotness. “Quick, before all the heat gets out.”

The oven door bangs twice instead of once, and the sound of keys rattle and clank in the hallway. “Hello?”


Running out to the black and white hallway, see Daddy from behind. He doesn’t turn straight away, but when he does it’s all smiles with crinkle eyes. Run and jump up high enough for lifting, wrapping your arms around his neck and pressing your face into his scratches.

“Hello princess,” says Daddy, pulling back to touch his nose on yours, rubbing together for eskimo kisses.

“Why are you home in the daytime?” you ask.

“Because I wanted to see my little princess,” he says. “And my big princess, of course.” Daddy slides you to the floor for kissing Mummy in a married way, but she doesn’t hug in right so he misses and gets her cheek instead.

A clash sounds from behind, as Louis gets stuck, bashing into the kitchen step.

“And there’s my little man,” says Daddy, walking through the middle to lift Louis out of his walker, kicking it further into the kitchen, clackety-clack.

Mummy follows and you skip behind because of all the happiness making you lighter. Following the cupcake smell, you hold your hands around your eyes for checking for if they’re all rising the same. Pink is for Mummy, green for Daddy and yellow is for you. Pink for ballerina’s, green goodest and yellow for sunniest.

“Daddy look, me and Mummy are doing cooking.”

“I can smell,” he says, sitting down in Mummy’s chair and bouncing Louis on his legs, doing wide faces and squished ones to make him laugh, more dribble wetting his front.

“Look at you, you yucky boy,” he says in a smiley voice, then to Mummy but not looking at her. “Have we not got a muslin down here?”

Mummy does a loud breath. “No. Sorry,” she says. “I’ll just go and get one, shall I?” But she doesn’t wait for Daddy to say yes.

The cupcakes aren’t rised yet so you climb back up onto your chair, watching Daddy keeping doing his funny faces, just for Louis.

“Can you do Mr. Raspberry?” you ask, but Daddy isn’t hearing you.

Kneeling up, you peek over the edge of the mixing bowl, seeing some cake goo still sticking round the edges.

“Hasn’t Mummy shown you how to lick the bowl?” says Daddy, catching you looking.

You think, no, so you shake your head.

“Oh, but that’s the best bit!” says Daddy, lifting Louis to face forward holding with only one arm. Picking a scraping spoon out of the bowl, Daddy spoons around the sides so that when he lifts, some of the goo has collected in its scoop.

“Here,” he says, handing the spoon to you – not for Louis.

Taking it, you look to Daddy, who nods okay. Then stick your tongue out for licking like a lollipop.

“See?” says Daddy, smiling and picking out the second spoon for making him a lolly too. “Even better than the cooked version.” He pulls the bowl forward for you to scrape some more. “Nana Spence used to have to make extra batter, because me and your Auntie Penny were always eating the mixture.”

Sitting up, you scrape your spoon around the bowl’s bottom, drawing squiggles up the sides.

“Here,” says Mummy, appearing behind; Louis’s mus-mus ready to be tied like a bib for catching all his dribble. “Oh no, don’t teach her to do that!”

Your hand gets pushed up as Mummy takes the bowl from under.

“She’ll get salmonella eating raw egg like that,” she says, with angry in her voice.

“Oh, come on,” says Daddy, as she takes the spoon out of your hand. “Don’t tell me your mum never let you lick the bowl?”

Mummy doesn’t answer, just takes the bowl to the sink for washing.

Look to Daddy for if you’re in trouble. But Daddy smiles and does a wink to you, handing you his lollipop with a shh finger so you know it’s a secret.

For more information about my books, please get in touch.

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