“Peach Blossom Lane,” I say, wanting the Royal Arcade to transform so that I may go and visit Mum at her store, which is called Delphinium’s Dainties. Mum stocks all sorts of school supplies. Everything young bloomers in Melbourne need. Uniform, wands, potion sets, spellbooks, pens, rulers, stickytape, erasers – the works. It’s a bit like Officeworks – with a few other items that they would never sell.
Peach Blossom Lane appears before me, and I walk under the archway through its entrance, and like always, I stick to the edges of the lane so
I am not trampled on by other people, mostly mothers with young daughters who are shopping the back-to-school shop. This is a dreaded
time of any term – our mothers can’t stand our whinging and we can’t stand theirs. So it’s a good thing I do most of my shopping on my own
while Mum runs the store and deals with everyone else’s whinging. Our school terms are identical to all the school terms in Melbourne – they
aren’t any different. The Goldrose School for Girls which is located high above The Royal Arcade in Melbourne, but just in our realm, may be
a tad different to every other school in Melbourne, but our founder, who just happens to be my great-grandmother Bergamot Goldrose, tries as
much as possible to run our school like the schools everywhere else, so that people who haven’t “bloomed”, don’t get too suspicious. I say
bloomed because every bloomer I know is named after a flower. And whilst non-gifted people can also be named after flowers – unless they
have bloomed magically – we all know they weren’t named after flowers because they are not magical. It’s probably just because their parents
liked the name. We never refer to ourselves as witches or wizards – that’s such an archaic term. We prefer to call ourselves bloomers while we
call people who aren’t gifted Wilted. It’s funny to think we name ourselves something that sounds a lot like school underwear – but I guess we
are all flowers – and that’s just what flowers do. We do have an all-boy’s school for rooks called The Meridian School for Boys, which was founded by
my great-grandfather Thistlethorn Goldrose, and that’s located above the dome of The State Library, in our realm, of course. Our schools are
associated, and we often hold quarterly balls together, but we remain separated for academic purposes. Apparently bloomers and rooks can distract eachother.
Grandma Bergamot and Grandpa Thistlethorn are both still alive at one hundred years old, which is an amazing feat. Their daughter – my
grandmother – Marigold Goldrose, who is seventy, is the librarian at my school, so I get to see her whenever I am in the library. It’s common
knowledge that the two schools are a huge family affair, with most of my relatives being affiliated with the schools in some way. Just like most
other schools, my school has four houses – Rosewater, Lilywater, Greenleaf, and Goldleaf. I’m in Rosewater. The Meridian School for Boys –
which we just call Meridian – has four houses as well: Ironbark, Greyhunter, Brackmore, Fernrook.
When I arrive outside Mum’s shop, I stand aside to let three girls walk out and then I go in. The store is extremely busy and she doesn’t really
have time to talk to me, but I badger her anyway.
“Hello darling.” Mum says, kissing me on the cheek and giving me a quick hug. “Quick. What’s up?”
“Mamma,” as I like to call her, …”Raina and I are meeting for tea, and I just wanted to see if you wanted anything?” I say.
“I’m ok. Your grandmother was in here before. She brought me something to eat. I’m fine. You go.” She smiles. She is very beautiful. She is
tall, with a very strong build, crazy curly frizzy brown hair which always sticks up, and bright green glasses, which are just amazing. Today she
is wearing a purple and brown patchy cardigan over a grey longsleeved top, with black leggings and black leather boots. It’s pretty much her
signature look. My father and she separated when I was one, so I don’t know him all that well, which means I was raised mostly by her and
“Can I have some money?” I ask.
“How much do you need?”
“Fifty? What for?”
“We want to go shopping…” I say.
“Ok. Get my purse out from the office.” Mum hands me a fifty dollar note, and I take it gratefully.
“Thanks mamma. I love you.” I say, kissing her on the cheek.
“Get going!” She says, laughing, and then winks at me
I leave the chaotic, crazy-busy shop and turn left into Peach Blossom Lane. Some children are chalking on the concrete which is pretty
annoying, because anybody could trod on their tiny little fingers. “Gerbera – move aside.” A mother tells a little girl of about five, who is
dressed in yellow, and is wearing white-knee-high socks, with black polished shoes. This mother sits on an outdoor chair that belongs to one
of the many cafes in Peach Blossom Lane. She is drinking a chai latte, and flicking through a bloomers-kind of magazine. From what I can see, she is reading Element. My favourite magazines are Woodsong, Holly, Blossom, and Waterwell.
I know Bridge Road and Chapel Street, and High Street in Northcote, have amazing cafes but the Wilted have no idea what the best coffee in
the world tastes like, and nor will they ever know – because they have never been to Peach Blossom Lane, and nor will they ever be able to
find it. I mean how many Wilted think to utter the words Peach Blossom Lane just as they are entering The Royal Arcade? There aren’t that
many. And most times, we bloomers have to whisper it anyway, just so it doesn’t look like we are talking to ourselves.
My best friend – Raina Storm – is the only other girl I know who isn’t named after a flower. The only other person who isn’t named after a flower is, well, me. I’m Saffra. Raina is also my cousin. Her mother Alyssum, is mum’s sister. And we are the only two girls allowed to study at Goldrose without a flower-name. Everyone else must be named after a flower. That’s prerequisite number one. Which is a bit hypocritical of my great-grandparents, Bergamot and Thistlethorn, to have those rules if you ask me. What can I say? They are my great-grandparents and I love them. I know they were pretty annoyed with their granddaughters name-choices when Raina and I were both born seventeen years ago, but mum and Aunty Alyssum just told them to get with the times. I would have loved to have been old enough to have been there – the look of shock on their faces would have been pure gold!
Raina is sitting outside Cinnamon – our favourite cafe – wearing a short black skirt, fish-net stockings, a bright red band tshirt, and docmartins – and in a world of her own. Her earplugs are in her ears, and to get her attention I have to stand right in front of her.
“Oh hey. Didn’t see you.” She says, in her soft mellow voice.
“What’s up buttercup?” I ask, in my high-pitched tone, casually, and sit down. Two lattes on china saucers are floating toward our table. They position themselves in front of us on the marble table, and then stir themselves with the teaspoons provided.
“I ordered.” Raina says.
“Obviously.” I say, picking up my latte glass and taking a sip.
“I saw your mum.” Raina says.
“Oh, she didn’t say.”
“She was pretty busy. All the year sevens are going crazy.”
“They always do.”
“God, I miss year seven.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“School was so easy back then.”
“Have you seen the booklist this year? It’s insane!”
“I know. So many books. It just so happens my mum stocks them all so I guess I’ll be getting them for discounted prices.” I joke, and sip.
“Ha-ha! Very funny! Well it just so happens my Mum teaches at Goldrose, so if I do crappy in class—”
“Boy – will you know about it!” I butt in, and laugh loudly.
“I know. I was going to say though, I’ll be able to bump up my marks, but no. You ruined the joke.” Raina smiles.
“What are cousins for?” I grin stupidly.
“Mum would never bump up my marks any way. Bitch.” Raina laughs.
“I can’t believe you just called your mum a bitch. That’s gold!” Im laughing and snorting now.
“Seriously – you would think if I got a C on an essay, and she wants an A, she would just change it herself. But no.”
“If she did that – you’d never go to school. Period.”
“True.” Raina smirks, and sips.
“She knows you too well.” I smile.
“What do you want to do after this?”
“Don’t know. Some Meridian guys are going to the movies. They wanted to know if we wanted to go.”
“Reed, Sterling, River and Rain.”
“Ugh. No thanks. I’ve had enough of the Rain and Raina jokes!” Raina says.
“They’re not cute. They’re dumb. Who the hell decided guys needed to be named after nature? It’s annoying!”
“Bloomers and rooks many years ago decided how our names would be. Come on. Let’s go clothes shopping then.” I say, pulling my cousin up by her arm, and dragging her with me.
(Please note: Every chapter from the start of Chapter Three onward, will have a strong recommendation that readers are 16 or older. There will be drug references, and references inappropriate for minors. Thank you.)