There was a gentle breeze rolling over the top of his head. He closed his eyes, for a brief moment, and sniffed the air. He could smell something sweet, floral. It made him happy.

Acorn spoke again: “What’s your name?”

“That’s a dumb question, isn’t it?” They both laughed. “It’s Cornflower.”

“Really? But my name’s Acornflower.”

“Right? That’s stupid. Acorns don’t flower.”

He tilted his head. He hadn’t thought about it like that before. “So I’m Acorn, and I don’t flower.”

“Yup! And you’re my best friend.”

“Best friend?” He examined the lump-thing. “I just met you.”

“I’ve always been here with you. I’m the reason you came up here.”

Somehow, he just knew Cornflower was right. This thing, whatever it was, it had always been with him. They had always been together, playing in the woods, watching their parents fight. This was just their first time beginning to grow separate.

And now he was a teenager.

And his parents were fighting again. And he was hiding on the hill again.

Cornflower was no longer just a nub on his head. It had grown into two appendages, long and spindly, wrapped around each other in a tight cross. They could move independently of him, and they would twist and curl as it would speak.

Yet, Cornflower only existed when he was alone with himself. If he looked into a puddle when he was in a group, the top of his head was bare, smooth, featureless.

When his parents were busy, he was studying to become a healer. He knew they would have some choice words if they ever found out, but he thought – ‘I don’t know. Maybe I can help Mom find out what’s wrong with Dad. Maybe I can help others.’

Maybe he could help himself. Maybe he could figure out what was wrong with himself.

Cornflower was speaking to him: “We need to get out.”

“I can’t,” he mewled pitifully. “I don’t know how.”