Monday, 17 November 2008
The one that got away - Linda Strachan
Don’t you hate it when you think of something when you are half asleep and it's crystal clear in every detail but when you come to note it down later, or in the morning, it's but a shadow of its former self. This happened to me recently. This is what I remember, but the original seemed so much more... I don’t know what... just more!
Last week I was almost asleep when I started thinking of a journey, not your average trip by car, plane or on foot and it wasn’t even my story…
You see there is this little squat horn-toed creature with sharp ears and a rather long chin. He is on his way along a winding path through what is obviously a fairytale land, you can tell that by the lane that meanders through unbelievably perfect countryside with undulating hills, all the optimum size for ‘pleasantness’. He is muttering and mumbling to himself as he approaches a small house with happily drooping roof, which might just look like it had been knitted if you looked at it in the right light. He has several packages under his arm that all look similar in shape and size. They are each wrapped in brown paper and tied with a piece of old knotted string.
He knocks at the door and when a young wench in a low cut blouse opens the door he gingerly hands over one of the rectangular packages. She frowns when she sees who is at the door but she takes the package. The creature looks pained as she is patently uninterested and quickly shuts the door before he has even finished speaking. He stands for a moment staring at the closed door, almost as if he wants to knock again.
Eventually he trots off along the road to the next building, which looms high above him, an imposing structure. This time he pulls a bell that rings sonorously, echoing through the valley. A tall, thin man opens the door. The horn-toed creature offers him one of the packages giving detailed instructions. The tall, thin man takes it and although he promises to deliver the package the creature shakes his head knowing that his precious package is unlikely to be opened at all, far less by the person it is intended for.
(yes, I can hear the large penny dropping as some of you read this!!)
Setting off once more he finally arrives at a shabby looking hut and on knocking at the door he is welcomed in by a scruffy old man and offered a mug of steaming ale. They sit together and the creature begins to talk at length as he offers the package, pushing it into the old man’s hands. The scruffy old man takes the sheaf of papers from the wrapping and starts to read the first few lines. In moments he is engrossed paying no attention to his guest.
Delighted, the creature sinks back into his chair and waits, unwilling to disturb the shabby old man’s obvious enjoyment of his manuscript. After a few pages the old man looks up and grins. They shake hands and the creature sets off with a spring in his step.
As he walks home he sees a familiar package at the top of the pile of rubbish outside the tall imposing building, wrapped in brown paper and string but slightly torn at the corner. A little further on he notices that one of the windows of the first house is open, unsurprising on this hot day, but he cans see that it is his manuscript that has been rolled up and used to stop the window closing.
With a shrug of his slightly bent shoulders he continues on his way home, still wearing a smile as he remembers the look on the old man’s face as he read, the delight and enthusiasm in his voice. The creature knows the old man may still decide not to take it but he is still happy because he is sure his precious words are being read and at least considered, not discarded……