Barry Heard


The secret to making a daisy chain was to use the pointy little fingernail on your right hand. That was what the kids at the Doctor’s Flat school had told Phyllis Wardell. During the flowering season, many daisy chains were worn to school — it was almost the fashion. So here was Phyllis, sitting among the capeweed just up from the creek, plucking the daisy flowers carefully, pushing a small hole in the end of the stem and then carefully threading another through. She picked the flowers slowly — not to protect the plant, but simply because any quick movement would upset the bees that were landing and doing their little wriggles on the bright-yellow flowers. If you upset the bees, they had a nasty way of showing that they didn’t like being disturbed.

This daisy-chain necklace would be for her mum, Mrs Ann Wardell. Mum had given Phyllis several days off from school, so she deserved a present. Although her mum had offered Phyllis no reason for the reprieve, making daisy chains beat schoolwork any day.

All of sudden, a piercing scream frightened Phyllis. She rushed up to their log cabin and pushed open the door, only to see her mother on the hardened dirt floor, clutching at her huge stomach. Phyllis stared at her mother. She was obviously in extreme pain. There was sweat dripping off the end of her nose, and a disturbing grinding noise was coming from her mother’s mouth as she gnashed her teeth in agony.

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