Friday September 16, 2005
I’m quite proud of myself today. In spite of being awfully busy on other things, and expecting to be even more busy next week, I made the time to sit down and write the second of the six one-a-week stories I’ve undertaken as a challenge from the writing group.
It’s not the most exciting of stories, but I don’t do exciting stories just now. Wouldn’t fit my theme.
The day the sky didn’t fall
With a frightful shriek and clatter a hen pheasant rushed across the paddock, neck stretched up as far as it would go and, on reaching the mesh fence bordering my garden, ducked, leapt, and landed safely on the lawn, feathered petticoats all a’fluster.
“Phew!” she said, looking me straight in the eye.
“Whatever’s the matter?” I asked, suppressing a giggle.
It was suppressed out of politeness, of course, but you’re allowed a silent giggle when a pheasant says “Phew!” at you, surely? Leastways, I think you are. Pheasants aren’t known for talking to humans, let’s face it, not even an old bloke sitting in his garden, being quiet.
“I thought I saw a dog,” she said. “Not that it’s any business of yours.”
“You thought you saw a dog?”
“You don’t hang around waiting to be sure when you’re a pheasant,” she said. “Not in these parts you don’t.”
“True. Lots of hazards and threats for pheasants round here. No matter, you’re safe in my garden.”
“Hmmph. That’s easy for you to say.”
“Well, at least the fence is dog-proof,” I said. “If there was a dog, that is.”
“We’ve been through that. Just the thought of a dog… Oh, my goodness, what’s up with Ethel?”
A second pheasant streaked into view, all of a panic and running as fast as she could with her head stretched out before her. She made the fence safely, and joined her friend. Or her sister. No telling with pheasants, and they often don’t know themselves, coming from very large families as they do.
“That was a close call,” she said.
“Dog?” asked the first pheasant.
As if to answer the question a large, rather silly-looking golden retreiver galloped into view around the corner of the stable, the other side of the fence, his back legs doing their best to overtake the front. As they do.
“SIT!” I commanded, loudly. Well, if it worked for the dog training lady on the TV, it ought to work for me.
The dog skidded to a stop and sat down, looking sheepish. Short of breath, panting in fact, but gratifyingly sheepish.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, chasing innocent pheasants?”
“Sorry. But a dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do.”
“Well, do me a favour and go do it somewhere else. You’re frightening my guests.”
Off he loped, still looking sheepish. As like a shame-faced sheep as you can manage with a lolling tongue, that is.
“Thank you,” said Ethel. “Say thank you to the nice gentleman, Phyllis.”
“I shall do no such thing. These humans are no more to be trusted than dogs and foxes.”
“Oh, you can trust me,” I said, doing my best to ignore a far off but still guilty memory of roast pheasant served with game chips, beetroot, shallots and red cabbage. “I don’t go around attacking creatures who come visiting my garden.”
“Unless they’re slugs,” Phyllis said.
“Well, yes. Slugs I attack. But then, everyone attacks slugs.”
“That’s right,” Ethel said. “You’ve got to give ‘im that. Everyone does attack slugs.”
“Well, alright, then. Thank you.”
“You’re both of you very welcome,” I said. “Will you stay for a while?”
“We’ll have a bit of a rummage in that over-grown bit in the corner but then I think we’d better be off. Before the sky falls, you understand.”
“I doubt it’ll fall today,” I said
“That’s what they said to the little red hen,” said Phyllis, still grumpy. “And look what happened to her.”
“Why, what did happen to her? So far as I remember, the sky didn’t fall on her either.”
“No, but they made her into a story.”
“Ah. There is that,” I admitted. “Anyway, you’re welcome to any little snacks you can find.”
And off the two of them wandered, chickle-chuckling quietly to one another as they rooted around in the carefully nurtured wild corner at the back of the garden. A little while later they pushed their way through the hedge to the safety of the long grass in the field off to the left, Ethel calling a polite “Bye!” as she went.
“Bye,” I returned. “And thanks for the story.”
“Hmmph,” said Phyllis.