The worst part about coming home is that she has to hide the tattoo.

She first noticed it when she was in a dressing room, ten years old and trying on a new dress. It looked like a small black dot on the back of her neck and over the years it grew into a vine that covers her skin, every inch but her face. She’s lucky. Her great grandfather’s was a vast prairie, with a rabbit that lived on his shoulders and hopped across his face. Other animals moved in the distance along his torso, and his legs were ant colonies and a maze of roots and dug-out dens. He lived his entire life on the family farm.

She is a vine, a maze of branches and a thousand different kinds of leaves. Insects scuttle between cover, and there’s a mouse-nest on her back with a single nervous mouse. When she peers over her shoulder to look at it in a mirror, it twitches its nose and scurries back inside. Vine-children keep secrets in their core, silent, and safe, and they cut their chests open and bare their hearts for the world to see. They guard knowledge, and they walk the between places.

Her father laughed with joy the day the first leaf opened, green and beautiful. Her mother wept.

She wears tops and jumpers with high necks and long sleeves. Before she leaves her private spaces, she must put on gloves, and when in public she must wear long jeans and trainers, with knee-high socks, just in case. She doesn’t leave home without a scarf in her bag. Every coat and jacket she owns has a hood. Her hair is always cut by Aunt Irma.

She tells people she’s very sensitive to sunlight, if they ask. Not many do.

She keeps the great book that her grandfather gave her the day the rabbit went away. He went for a long walk after that, and never came back. She was fourteen. Two years later the leaves on her father’s oak tree turned gold and tumbled to his feet, and not two months after the doctor told him it was cancer. Her mother still lives on the farm, with her brother and his young family.

She used to live there too, until the door appeared in the air by the old barn. She went through and never came back.

She drifts home sometimes, eyes sparkling with the light of otherworldly places, words from strange languages drifting off her tongue. The locals call her fanciful with a smile.

One day she may never come home at all. Her mother will not weep for her twice.