Once upon a time a leftover almond orchard lingered in a suburban street. The other inhabitants of the street walked by the orchard every day on their way to the bus or the train or the shops. Mostly they ignored it, although in spring their inward-looking eyes might stray outwards for a moment to graze the pale pink petals fading to their magenta centre.

It was the children who knew the world which flourished among the twisted trunks of the almond trees. On hot summer mornings they escaped the dullard wizards and witches who would confine them to their weatherboard box prisons. They slipped, one by one, two by two into the insect-buzzing grass between the trees. Provisioned with nectar of orange cordial, and slices of the softest bread filled with white and gold fragments of egg and carried in elf-made baskets of satiny tupperware, hunger could not call them away for hours at a time.

The children were kings and queens in their orchard kingdom. They stabbed holes with ragged fingernails into the stems of yellow flowers to weave crowns and royal necklaces. They built stone castles from fallen branches and dug moats of flattened grass. They jousted on stick chargers and brandished twiggy swords, clutched their ketchup bleeding hearts and roiled in deaths which left their hair and clothes covered in emerald seeds.

One day, a knight in golden bark armour scaled a tower tree to rescue a long-haired princess. He stretched to her to receive his silver furred almond reward, and tumbled from his brave steed branch into the maw of the dragon roots below. The dragon took him, one piercing bite, and there the brave knight lay, pale and still.

The dullard wizards and witches wept, and forbad the kings and queens forever from the orchard kingdom. The kings and queens were imprisoned in the weatherboard boxes and when the hundred years of their sentences had passed, they were sent into exile to the playground at the other end of the street.

The playground’s hard wooden roundabout, molten metal slides and black asphalt surfaces scraped their bare knees and elbows, no longer protected by golden bark armour.  The kings and queens rebelled but when they scorned the hard-edged playground and sneaked to their orchard kingdom, they found their entry blocked. Not by dragons, which they could have dealt with, but by a looming thicket of silver thorns adorned with spells warning, Danger Keep Out in rampant red letters.

Worse, the thorny thicket wielded magic to conceal the orchard kingdom from their sight. The knobbled trees were invisible and the long grass and the yellow flowers hidden behind a veil of open hot sky and red earth scarred with trenches marked with lines of string.