Thursday, 11 November 2010

The stranger we met in passing

We liked to play in the field close to the house. The grass had just been cut and we collected it into great heaps with holes in the middles. Here we could sit, almost hidden, and make camps from which to throw missiles at each other.

As we foraged for more grass, a stranger appeared, although we had not noticed his approach. He was very tall, but stooped like an old tree and he wore a coat the colour of a pine forest, so long that it swept up leaves and grass clippings and small animals as he moved. The animals peeped at us from under the folds. They didn’t seem in the least bit scared.

In his hand he held a banana.

‘Excuse me,’ he said in a voice as deep and old as the hills. ‘Could you tell me what this is?’

We told him and he looked the banana, pleased. ‘Oh good,’ he said and flung the it far away from him with his long green-sleeved arm.

He waited.

We waited.

‘Oh,’ he said, disappointed. ‘Isn’t it supposed to come back?’

We glanced at each other. ‘You may be confusing it with a boomerang,’ we said.

‘A boomerang. A b–ooo-ooo-mer-ang-ang-ang.’ The word shuddered around the field and bounced off the trees back at us. ‘And where might I find one of those?’

‘Australia!’ piped up the youngest of us.

‘Ah Australia. Thank you so much for your time and assistance. I shall bid you good day.’ He checked a pocket watch that reminded me of the White Rabbit’s in Alice in Wonderland, and disappeared in quite the same manner in which he’d arrived. The animals, who’d been gathered up under his cloak, looked startled and scurried away.

‘How very odd,’ I said. And we all stood around for a little while, not quite knowing what to do.

Then Joe shouted; ‘First one to find the banana gets to eat it!’ And off we raced, flinging up the mown grass around our feet until the air was full of it.

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