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Perfectly Formed (prequel)

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This story is for Craig, and for all the other people out there who are not afraid to chase their dreams.

‘Look at me when I’m talking to you!’ His mum’s voice hit him like a pointy finger digging into his back.

Craig wheeled his chair round to face her and crossed his arms.

‘You’re only 12, Craig!’ His mum glared at him before turning her eyes towards his dad. ‘Brad?’

His dad fidgeted in his easy chair, harrumphed and said, ‘He’ll be with me and the rest of the crew, Mary.’ His tone of voice wavered between asking and telling.

Craig sighed.  This wasn’t going as well as he had hoped. He had known his mum wouldn’t be pleased when he said he wanted to join his dad on the expedition to the Geographic North Pole but the age card was the last weapon he had expected her to use.  He had no argument prepared for that one.

‘He’d have to be absent from school, the academy won’t like that.’ His mum squared her shoulders.

Craig cringed, first the age card and now the school clause; his mum was fighting dirty! He shuddered to think what reason she might use next.

‘I’ll talk to the head, explain the education Craig will gain from this trip,’ his dad offered.

‘You’ve a whole lifetime ahead of you to do things like this, what’s the rush?’ she demanded of Craig.

Craig tried to distract her slightly. ‘Mum, all I’m doing is watching Dad at work. Lewis Pugh swam there in 2007.’  He couldn’t hide the admiration from his voice.

‘I hope you don’t have any plans to try a stunt like that, Craig.’ His mother’s voice trembled. She patted the arm of the settee beside her.

Craig edged into position beside her warily…what if she went mad, grabbed hold of him and refused to let go or something?  Craig put his hand around her arm and gave it a gentle squeeze before saying, ‘No, Mum, no swimming while I’m there, promise.’

 She didn’t respond but turned to his dad again, instead. ‘I don’t understand why you have to go anyway; you’re a grass scientist! Plants don’t grow there!’

‘I don’t have to go, Mary, I want to. It’s a chance of a lifetime for me, and for Craig. Remember when we were still at Uni and I told you about the book of Inuit legend I found at the British Library?’

Craig’s mum nodded and Craig felt a surge of hope. Good plan, Dad, take her back to when she was young and used to have fun.

‘Remember the story about a knoll on the North Pole where grass grew fast enough to set seed during the very short Arctic summer?’

‘It’s a legend darling…but then you have always been a dreamer.’ Mary’s eyes narrowed. 

Craig’s newfound hope plummeted. He gritted his teeth and came to his dad’s defence. ‘Many legends are known to have elements of fact, Mum.

 ‘And what about polar bears?’ his mum challenged, unconvinced, and getting determinedly back on track to keep him from joining his dad at work.

‘Prince Harry was there, surely if it’s safe enough for royalty…?’  Craig said, confident that would do the trick. The royal family could do no wrong in his mum’s opinion.

His mum shrugged. ‘He has plenty of minders; he doesn’t need to worry about bears sneaking up on him when he’s not paying attention.’

‘Polar bears don’t hang out at the North Pole, there’s no food there.’ Craig’s dad winked at him.

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