My parents tell me that I’ve been running ever since I was born. Not running from anyone or anything – just running for the sake of it. I went straight from crawling to toddling around on my little legs as fast as they could carry me, and never ever stopped.

But every so often, even I needed to stop to catch my breath. Today was one of those times.

This house in the forested mountains was the closest thing we had to a base. A home. We always came here when we needed a break, help, or even just company. They were loving, fearless, open and generous, and I couldn’t do without them. Their home was a sanctuary of love and nature, and electricity for our laptops.

I sat cross-legged on the mattress in the back of the van, feeling the sun’s rays warming me through the open windows. It was rare that I was alone these days, so I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and just listened. The morning birds were awake and starting their daily routine of endless calls, extraordinary in their diversity. I could hear a gentle breeze flowing through the thick bushland, rustling the leaves ever so gently. There were distant sounds of cars and activity in the house in the valley below. I could hear water quietly gurgling away in the fountain in the front garden. These quiet moments were all I needed to recharge. I was ready to run again.

I opened my eyes. Frankie was sitting next to me on the mattress, his deep green eyes regarding me with slightly blank affection. I smiled.

‘What’s up, Frankie? Did you sleep well?’

He said nothing, as per usual. Instead he blinked at me and curled up beside me. I gave the black fuzz on his head a little scratch. He made a peep of contentment and settled in.

I returned to the task at hand. I grabbed my flat brush and stirred the brightly coloured goo in the bowl, careful not to stick my face too close to it. I took the brush and started painting it on my head, working from my part down, staring into the mirror, intent on my task. Distantly, I could hear a voice calling my name. Haley. Haley Dee.

I looked up in the mirror to see Thom striding towards me with a cup in his hands.

‘Blue again?’

‘Why not?’ Blue had always been my favourite colour. It made me feel happy, calm, and alive. It kept my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds.

Thom put the cup down on the little shelf next to the mirror. It was tea. Hot and sweet.

The smell of the dye was pretty noticeable. Thom wrinkled his nose and looked down at Frankie.

‘How can you stand it, bud?’

Frankie didn’t stir. He usually didn’t until someone mentioned food.

I took a sip of my tea and instantly felt human again. I sat in the van and stretched my neck and fingers. My fingers were starting to itch. I was already feeling it. Thom watched me through the mirror.

‘Are you ready to go?’

I smiled. ’Yes.’

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