'Future Plans' by Kathy Chamberlain

Sophia’s going to have a miscarriage. Her teacher blinks. Asks Sophia to repeat herself. It’s true – they run in her family. She’s watched her mum hunched over in the kitchen, back to the door, her tears doing a better job of washing the dishes.

Sophia stands in front of the class. It’s Aspirational Week, and Ms Green’s had them write down their Future Plans. The other children are going to be rock stars and astronauts and, in one case, just rich. They’re going to have houses, babies and puppies. Ms Green says how lovely.

Nothing comes out of her o-shaped mouth now, but that’s fine – Sophia’s not done. She’s also going to have an accident at work. She’s seen the adverts. You can’t walk along an otherwise empty corridor without a ladder falling on you. Yeah, she’s only ten now, but she wants to be prepared. Isn’t that why they’re thinking ahead?

She’s going to do some cool stuff, too, because women can do anything. That empty hut on the promenade, the one by the carousel? She’s going to get it, gut it, and turn it into the ice-cream parlour she’s going to own with her brother. It’ll be a hit. Organic ice-cream in dessert flavours. Harry’s idea. Eton mess… profiterole… doughnut flavours. After a decade of that, having survived the miscarriage and the accident, one of them’s probably going to get cancer.

Ms Green bites her lip. Looks at the clock on the wall. Twenty minutes until lunch, and there are only two children left after Sophia. They sit next to the little makeshift stage. One wiping a runny nose. One scratching a scabby knee. Transfixed. Watching upturned crates and premature rage.

If kids these days are snowflakes, Ms Green thinks. Sophia’s the whole snow globe.

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