Ally ducked under the honeysuckle arch and the wooden gate closed with a decisive click. The rumble of lorries in the street vanished like magic, and a collective humming took its place. Bees. Honeybees flying loops in the lavender, bumblebees rolling themselves fat and yellow in the buddleia, cross bees fighting amongst Love-in-a-Mist under the almond tree.
The sharp, white sunlight moved the garden like a mirage as if Ally was seeing through the gauze of a cataract. She screwed up her eyes but the flowers stayed cloudy, the colours indistinct; and the bees droned on.
Paper and paints sat waiting at the garden table. She decided quickly; just graded washes and modified hues: thin, raw umber and zinc white with a dash of purple for an old blousey rose; diluted cadmium red with a hint of black for a graceful hollyhock.
Working fast with a sponge, a rag and a voluptuous sable brush dripping with wash, she let the paint dribble and granulate, allowing the colours to mingle. She tilted the paper from side to side. She mopped and wiped. There was no need for a fine brush. Ally was making shapes and traces - an intimation of what could be.
A bumblebee covered in pollen crash-landed on the paper and left a golden sun. It righted itself indignantly and flew off.
Ally blinked twice and time shifted once more. She heard the sound of lorries rumbling past, sighed, and lifted the latch.