‘Doomed! Doomed! You are doomed!’ His voice, gravelly from shouting, invaded Monument Street and its shops. Eight-year-old Sylvie – blond curls, blue eyes – stopped at the sweet-shop door.

‘I didn’t hear you,’ she said. ‘Tell me again,’ she commanded. Her voice held a snigger.

The old man’s pale eyes rolled in her direction. ‘All are doomed! Even you!’

Sylvie stuck out her tongue at him then spun round and sauntered away. She could get sarcasm even into her walk.

As she flounced round the corner, the voice followed her, ‘You are doomed. Doomed! Your end is certain.’

Doom may have been after Sylvie but he took his time – she lived another ninety years, all that time in the house she was born in, round the corner from the sweet shop. She knew the neighbourhood like her own skin. She walked, ran, skate-boarded, cycled and drove over it until she was its oldest inhabitant.

But she never went into Monument Street again.

E. A. M. Harris