The steps got louder as they got closer. Oscar knew he shouldn’t talk to strangers but his curiosity got the better of him. He plucked up the courage, scrunched his face up, to look intimidating. He spun around hastily to spook it, as he turned around he tripped over his own long straggly laces and landed face down onto the spotted concrete. Oscar could feel the waves of the warm sun rising through the ground.
Oscar’s heart beat so fast, he could feel it in his throat. He wanted to escape from the unnerving situation. He hated confrontation almost as much as letting people down. But he knew he had to stand up and face it. He raised his head from the floor and gazed over to the stranger. Oscar noticed some dirty long toenails pressed firmly into a pair of multi-coloured flip-flops.
With a great big leap, his hockey brain kicked in and he went in for the attack, aiming for the goal. Oscar jumped right up and pounced at the stranger. With his hands like claws, like a lion would pounce on its prey. Oscar shouted ‘ROAR.’
The stranger’s eyes opened wide, in shock, he roared back at Oscar; also with his hands in a claw position.
Oscar was never one for sports at school, but hockey was his secret modest skill, that he kept quietly to himself. If he received any kind of unwanted attention, his cheeks would flush the brightest beetroot red- blending nicely into his hair.
‘Oh it’s you!’ Oscar was relieved. It was just his homeless friend, Finley Rogers, from down the road.
‘I just wanted to say hi, I fort it was you, but it took me a while to catch up see. I’m getting old and my new flip-flops e me call it’s – slow me down. Been walking all day, sightseeing and I’ve seen the bootiful woodland, the sea, the trains, deer, and the sun’s shining. Oh how I love life,’ said Finley Rogers, with his arms spread out wide, he breathed in the fresh air.
‘You scared me!’ Oscar huffed with his hands on his hips. Oscar enjoyed Finley’s estranged way of thinking, it made life more interesting.
‘I’m sorry, you did the right fing- lions are pretty intimidating,’ Finley frowned, in a serious tone.
‘Good! I wasn’t expecting to see you until I got to ‘Cow pat Lane’. Your hair has grown a lot since I saw you last, can you eat with your hair like that?’ Oscar imagined him eating a bowl of spaghetti with most of it wrapped in his long frizzy beard.
‘Ha, yes o’course.’
‘Oh, well I best be going home, I’m already late, bye Finley.’ Oscar carried on his way home, scuffing his shoes along the pavement.
‘Just remember, good old Ghandi once said “Be the change you wanna see in the world” Or summing like that…’
Finley’s voice echoed down the hill, in a rather mysterious way.
Oscar turned around replying ‘Yes, ok then,’ with a slight sarcastic tone. He raised his eyebrows as though to say- ‘here we go again.’
He carried on walking down the hill looking at his feet. Laying there on the ground he saw a two pound coin and picked it up. He’s thought he was never lucky enough to find money, let alone a two pound coin. He tucked it away into his pocket safely for a rainy day, which was more common than not, on the South coast of England.
At last Oscar reached his road.
His pace slowed and his rucksack sagged down his back. He passed the homeless shelter, where Finley lived. It was a tall slim stone building, large stain glass windows and behind the building was a big garden full of colourful spring flowers. Every morning the smell of bacon sandwiches woke the entire street up, hungry.
Oscar passed his friends houses and passed the alley way, which was the sneaky route to Jimmy’s farm.
Finally he arrived home, to a small red bricked house that looked quaint and quiet from the outside.
‘The Butterworth Family’ was engraved on a small stone plaque hanging to the right of the door. All the curtains were closed and their garden wall was half way built from cement and twigs, with no gate. Oscar thought it was better without a gate, a lot easier when he came home from his cub camps, packed like a donkey.
The steps to the door were thrown together by Oscar’s dad a few months ago. A few slabs of stone splatted into cement with random objects thrown in, which led your feet to the bright sunflower door.
As soon as he opened the door, all he could hear was his Mother’s high pitched voice shouting at his dad again, like usual. Oscar shook his head; he knew he was in for another crazy loud night, ‘Hi Mum, hi Dad.’
Little did Oscar know that his mother had driven past about 15 pink blossom trees in full bloom. Which was always a sad reminder of the time her first born, Simon, had died.
No one responded, so he slammed the door behind him to get their attention. ‘HI MUM, HI DAD!’
Mrs. Butterworth, still in her police uniform took short deep breaths and wiped her tears, trying to conceal them. Mr. Butterworth, dressed in a spiral tie-dye, t-shirt and shorts, turned around and waved. ‘Alright son, hope you had a good day. Tell me, what did ya learn?’
‘Um… brainwaves,’ Oscar replied lazily.
‘How interesting. I loved learning about the brain at school. Science was my favourite subject. No hockey today?’
‘No, dad,’ Oscar huffed. He knew if he ever talked about hockey at home, the conversation would end in his mother’s shrill cry. Because she was proud of him or it reminded her of Simon. He was also quite a hockey fanatic.
‘Well, don’t mind us, just go outside and play. Your sister is out there too.’ Mr. Butterworth scuttled him outside.
Oscar always felt in the way, like his parents had better things to do then spend actual time with him. He had to be careful not to set off his mother’s emotions.
‘Why are they still arguing? Am I not good enough?’ Oscar thought this daily. ‘There has to be more to life!’ Oscar was hopeful of finding more reason to life, more adventure, mystery and fun.
With a tut and a sigh he stomped his way through the kitchen and out the glass sliding doors, into the garden. Oscar didn’t think it was much of a garden. There was not much room left to play with his dad’s flower beds and vegetable plots taking up most of the space. The only good thing about it was the trampoline. Oscar could see his sister from a mile away with her bright orange tutu; she never left the house without it. The trampoline was so high that his sister Lily could not reach it without the help of Oscar or their parents.
‘Up you go then Lil, be careful,’ as she bounced higher and higher, her curly fair locks bounced above her head. Oscar jumped up to join her, ‘Woo, it’s raining, hold on Lil.’
‘I want go to moon,’ Said Lily, jumping with joy.
‘Are you sure?’ asked Oscar.
‘Ok then, hold on Lil.’
Oscar walked around the edge, taking giant steps in slow motion. Lily tried to sit in the middle, but rolled all over the place. Suddenly in the distance the dark black clouds rolled in and thunder began to rumble.
‘Ahh, I’m scared,’ said Lily.
‘It’s ok, we’re on the moon, and the thunder can’t get us here.’ Said Oscar.
Oscar walked faster and faster around the edge. As he ran, Lily bounced even higher, rolling all over the trampoline, drenched from the rain.
‘What do you think you are doing!’ yelled his Mother. Oscar immediately stopped running. He slipped from the wet trampoline onto his bottom. Lily looked all innocent and sweet.
‘We were playing a game, Lil wanted to go to the moon, so we did.’
‘Stop this nonsense and get inside now!’ shouted Mrs. Butterworth.
Oscar helped his sister off the trampoline. They went back through the sliding doors. They squelched through the kitchen with their muddy boots.
Their dad looked at them with a smirk, ‘looks like you’re having fun. Don’t forget tomorrow we will plant those onions and carrots, if the weather holds out.’
They both nodded and trudged through the kitchen, leaving muddy footprints behind them.
‘Oh that’s it I’ve had enough, just go! Go to Jimmy’s or somewhere else to make a mess!’ said Mrs. Butterworth.
Mr. Butterworth nodded at them, to say ‘It’s OK, just come back for dinner.’
So off they went, wet and muddy. Oscar made sure Lily held his hand the whole way, so she couldn’t run away, like most 5 year olds would.
‘Let’s take the shortcut to Jimmy’s through the alley way. But you can’t tell anyone, it’s my secret. Ok Lil?’
‘Ok,’ Said Lily, with her fingers crossed behind her back.
They entered the long dark alley way, treading carefully trying not to not crush any snails, that have come out to play in the rain. The spindly bushes either side of the alley formed an archway through closing them in like a tunnel.
‘I’m scared,’ said Lily.
‘It’s ok, I can see the fence to Jimmy’s farm, see it?’
‘Jimmy,’ yelled Oscar across the alley. ‘Can you see us?’
There was no response. Lily and Oscar carried on towards the farm. There in front of them stood a large wooden house, where Jimmy’s family lived. It was covered in white and blue flowers that smelt wonderful and weaved all the way up the wall. Lily took a big sniff and sighed ‘Mmm.’
Jimmy’s twin sisters ran outside, just a few months older than Lily. Dressed in welly boots and skirts, no coats. You could tell they were farm kids – hardened to the elements.
‘I see Laura and Jenny,’ Lily ran towards them waving her arms.
‘Off you go then, Lil, play nicely.’
The three girls headed into the farmhouse where it was warm and dry. The fire roared and the smell of roasted chicken wafted throughout the house. Jimmy’s Mother welcomed Lily with a pre warmed towel and wrapped her up to dry off. ‘Nothing beats that,’ thought Lily.
Oscar shouted for Jimmy again, but he could not find him anywhere. There was a large open field and woods where they would normally play for hours. Oscar ran across the field, squelching and splashing mud up his back.
‘Boo!’ yelled Jimmy, as he jumped out from behind a bush.
‘Hey! I was looking for you and called you, but you never answered.’
‘I heard you the first time, so I hid behind the bush by the alley and followed you,’ said Jimmy, trying to control his giggle fit.
‘My sister is here playing with Lauren and Jenny, we can’t be long. We have to be back for dinner.’
‘Look what I found!’ Jimmy pulled out old rusty coins from the bottom of his pocket that he found buried in the woods.
‘Wow, they look old, let’s make a wish!’
Jimmy and Oscar ran behind the house to the well. ‘I wish for lots of fun adventures,’ said Jimmy excitedly.
Oscar scrunched his eyes shut, with the coin in his fists he said, ‘I wish… I could make Simon proud of me.’ They flicked the coins into the deep well and waited for the splash.
‘Let’s race to the tree house,’ Jimmy prepared himself in a sprint position.
Off they ran across the boggy field into the woods. No one could see them, especially in the rain; but they could see everything through the trees. They used fern leaves to hide and wiped mud over their faces like war paint. They climbed up the ladder into the tree house and spied on the girls to make sure they would not follow.
‘Oh wow, you decorated in here, the camouflage wall look cool. What’s this?’ Asked Oscar, his eyes fixed on a large knotted rope attached to what looked like a trap door in the floor.
‘Ah ha, this is my secret exit, wanna check it out?’ replied Jimmy.
‘Of course I do.’
Jimmy lifted up the piece of rope, which pulled up a secret door. It lead to a rope ladder spread all the way to the tree opposite them. They crawled through the hole and tread carefully across the rickety rope bridge.
‘One at a time, or you’ll fall into the bog of crocodiles,’ stated Jimmy.
Off Oscar went, one leg at a time, ambling like a chameleon walking on a branch. He could not fall. The bridge wobbled the entire way across. Finally he made it without getting eaten. Jimmy then followed, moving across like a monkey, smooth and steady.
‘Phew, we made it,’ Oscar sighed.
Both boys stood on a tiny platform screwed to the side of the tree. The only way down was to slide down the rope, hanging from the platform. They knew that the crocodiles (or the pet pigs), would try to eat them. They had to swing on the rope to land safely across the crocodile filled bog.
‘Ready. Let’s go,’ said Jimmy.
Oscar gripped onto the rope with all his might. He could feel his hands slipping from the mud and rain. He had to cling on tight and kick off the tree so he could swing all the way across the bog. With one big kick and a ‘roar’ Oscar swung across. Crocodiles snapped at his feet- only a few inches away. He landed face first in the mud.
‘Your turn,’ said Oscar, wiping the mud from his mouth.
Jimmy thumped his chest like a gorilla and pushed out from the tree. His hands slipped down the rope, everything went into slow motion. Oscar saw the look on Jimmy’s face, mouth wide open. He knew he was about to fall. Jimmy slipped further down the rope. Crocodiles snapped but he had to let go, the rope burn was too much for his hands. He landed on his bottom so hard into the bog that created a tidal wave and the crocodiles swam away. Thankfully no one got eaten by the crocodiles.
‘Boys, come on in now, Jimmy your dinner is ready,’ shouted his Mother from across the field.
‘Ok then Mum,’ said Jimmy. ‘Well, we best be off home too then, thanks for another adventure,’ said Oscar.
Oscar collected Lily and headed on home, squelching the whole way. Lily pointed and laughed at Oscar because he had mud all over his face, legs and back. Mum will kill me. Oscar thought to himself. Trudging back through the alley way. Lily led the way this time, hopping everywhere to avoid the snails. Finally, they were home to warmth.
They took their shoes off at the front door, and Lily inhaled deeply. ‘But it doesn’t smell like chicken,’ she thought.
With a huff, Oscar tried to sneak upstairs before being seen, as he knew his Mother would have a fit. Lily skipped through the house in her brown muddy tutu, singing away, ‘I want dinner.’
Which grabbed Mrs. Butterworth’s attention. As she turned around and gasped, she dropped her mug of coffee all over the kitchen floor. Oscar could hear the gasp from the bottom of the stairs and cringed. With a loud smash the coffee cup shattered everywhere. Oscar stopped dead in his tracks.