Here is an extract of The Green Indian Problem –
“Mrs R told us to make a family tree. She said a family
tree is a type of drawing that is also like a map of our
families. My family tree was hard to do, because some of
my family are living with the wrong people. I drew a lot of
trees. I put myself, my mum and my sister in the first tree.
Then I put my dad in the second one. I put everybody else
in the other trees.
Because I am in the top group and the teacher thinks
I’m clever, she lets me write stories when I have finished
my work. I don’t think I’m that clever, because I don’t
understand how spaceships work, and I am still trying to
do my Rubik’s cube. My dad can do it really quickly, but
I can only get one side the same colour. Orange. If I am
not working on a story, Mrs R sometimes tells me to go
and sit with Michael and help him with his work. She says
that Michael needs extra help. I know this is true because
Michael does not understand that 2 x 2 is 4 or 3 + 4 is 7.
Michael has also been writing his name wrong. He has
been writing ‘Micel’. Then the other day I showed him
how to write it. He copied his name out loads of times and
now he can do it right.
Michael is my best friend. He lives in the next street to me,
and he is allowed to stay out on his bike when I am in bed. I
can only stay out late if it’s not a school night and if my mum
is in the right kind of mood to let me. That’s just sometimes.
Michael lives with his mum and dad, his brother, his sister
and his dogs. He only drew one tree. There were too many
people in it because he drew his whole family – even his
aunties and uncles were dangling off the branches. He put
the dogs at the bottom of it, too. It looked like the dogs
had scared everyone, so they climbed away. When I had
finished my trees, I helped him to spell out the names in his
family. I know how to spell all the names in mine.
I live with my mum, my little sister Verity and a horrible
man called Den. Den is short for Dennis. I didn’t put Den
in our tree because he does not really belong there. He is so
horrible he should have his own tree with no other people in
it. I wish he was stuck in a tree and could never climb down.
There should be special trees for people like Den.
My dad is called Graham, but everyone calls him Gray
or Grayo. My mum is called Linda, and people just call her
Linda. I wrote down all my dad’s names on the branches of
his tree. I put his new family in the tree with him too. My dad
lives with a woman called Tina and my two brothers, Aaron
and Kai. When Mrs R was teaching us about families, she
said that some people can have half brothers and sisters.
She said half brothers and sisters only share a mum or a
dad, not both. I think it means only having one parent that
is the same as each other. It was a bit confusing. Michael
kept saying, ‘I dunno what she’s on about.’ If Mrs R is right, that would mean my brothers and sister are halves,
but I think that is just stupid, because you can’t have half
a sister. Sisters are not like fractions.
I wish my dad would live with us, but my mum said
sometimes mums and dads can’t stay with each other
because they do not like to live together in the same house.
I think they should check if they like to be around each
other before they get married. I think that would save
people from getting sad. I am sad because my dad does
not live with us, but I am also sad because I am stuck.
Mrs R said if we get stuck we should try to work things
out. She told us to do it on paper like we do in maths if we
can’t work out a sum. Then she gave us a spare workbook
each, just for working things out. She said writing things
down helps to work out problems. That is why I am writing
this out. It’s because I am stuck with things. When you are
stuck, it is called a problem, or a puzzle, and it can sometimes be called a mystery. My problem is a mystery because
something has happened to me that I don’t understand,
and I can’t work out why it has happened. The teachers
say if we try but still can’t work out the answer to something we should ask somebody, but I don’t know who will
know the right answer. I want to work out the mystery by
myself, but I think I will have to ask some questions to get
some clues. That is what I am going to do. I am writing this
down in my workbook, so it is going to be my clue book
too. I’m going to take it home so I can keep working on the
problem. I think it might take a long time to get the right
answer, because it is a very mysterious mystery.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J a d e L e a f W i l l e t t s is a writer from Llanbradach,
a strange, beautiful village in South Wales. He writes
about extraordinary characters in ordinary worlds
and has a penchant for unreliable narrators. The
Green Indian Problem, his first novel, was longlisted
for the 2020 Bridport Prize in the Peggy Chapman Andrews category. Jade’s poetry has been published
by Empty Mirror, PoV Magazine and Unknown Press.
His short story, ‘An Aversion to Popular Amusements’
was shortlisted for the inaugural Janus Literary Prize.
All his stories are available for adaptation, should Wes
Anderson be interested. He is currently working on a
coming-of-age sequel to The Green Indian Problem.
You can buy The Green Indian Problem from Renard Press HERE
You can follow Jade Leaf Willets on TWITTER