Keep your shirt on

Suje walked the same path he always walks. Beautiful scenery attracted him here each morning. A mixture of earth, dirt, nature and peaceful farm countryside. A few conversational hellos to locals and friends as he passed. From all appearances, this would be another day like all the others.

“You know”, he thought, we should go fishing today. After work. I’ll ask my friends, Retro and Laus. What an enjoyable time we will have. Friends, joking, swimming, fishing.

As a young man in the eastern town of Serpentine, he was expected to pursue the careers set out by his father and family. His older brothers were in the tax collection business. He had little interest in this. But, he was not getting younger and soon his father would push even more for him to finish his schooling and come to work with the family.

His sisters were smarter than his brothers. They combined efforts and created their own business designing custom defense gear and clothing. Lightweight yet sturdy and strong. Most everyone needed some sort of protection from the surprise visit of the locusts. Those buggers could chew through your clothing and into our skin in a few moments surprise. So, better to invest in some sort of protection that run the risk of bleeding everywhere. That’s what their advertisement brand is built on. Not a bad idea if you ask me.

They let him try out some of their newest season apparel. His friends got a good laugh out of capturing some of the biting creatures and testing the endurance of the material. He was not as thrilled, but it was helpful information to give back to his sisters.

He was almost at the grain storage silo. After filling his basket for the morning and returning that Mother, he’d be able to finish his choirs and have the rest of the day to himself. It really was a wonderful time in his life.

Never did it cross his mind that today might be different. Not without struggles, he understood, but nothing overly difficult.

Coming back from the silo, following a different path than he used to arrive. Similar enough, but there was something about changing the pathway home that gave him a sense of journey. It took the same amount of time and difficulty. He saw the way home differently that the walk path to arrive. The wind blew slightly and a dark cloud covered the tree tops to his right. “That is strange” he thought, but kept moving. His brothers did teach him to pay attention to his surroundings. He tried to apply that in most situations. But with a positive spirit and adventurous mind, he most likely forgot this more times that he should have.

That feeling of ‘strange’ flowed up the spine of his back. No recognising something was different, he increased his gate. A rumble noise from the tree line. A shaking of the ground. Like when a boulder falls from a cliffside. A thud and shutter. Felt, more than heard.

Does he run home or stand his ground? Time for the thimble to decide. He reached into his pocket and returned in his palm the thimble. A small sewing device his sister Bella gave him to stitch small tears in the fabric of his shirt. He used this in times when he couldn’t logically determine what to decide. Spinning it and waiting for it to stop. The direction told him how to continue. The small end pointed toward the trees. Face it.

He sat calculating his options. Weapons? None. A basket of grain, which if he lost would only hurt him later or he’d have to return to get more from the silo.

One lesson he did remember from his brother Fredric was “if it makes you look up, you might want to look down”. One distracting thing might actually just distract you from the real threat. Just in time he turned with suspicion and caught a glimpse of the blur of the object as it passed his head. He quickly rolled to the ground. Got his body weight under control and recovered his feet under him in a way that would allow him to defend himself from the threat if needed.

His eyes glanced through the grass field. Nothing.

“BAAHHH!” a leaping Retro jumped out from the grass only a few feet from him. He fell over backwards in stress. His feet tangled and heels caught on the ground. A sense of regret, annoyance and fright. As his breathing slowed, his thoughts turned from pain to laughter.

Retro, now standing over him smiling, caring about the wellbeing of his dear friend, but also giggling at the surprise tactic he was able to pull over on his friend. “Keep your shirt on buddy”, no one is here to hurt you. Boyhood pranks meant to solidify friendships as well as safely learn to deal with anguish and turmoil. This time very unexpected.

“Why are you not with you mother at the market?”, Suje asked.

“Oh, she don’t need me with her. Besides, I fooled her over that I wasn’t feeling well. I figured we’d go fishing today”.

“I wanna go, but I have to get this basket home for lunch and then choirs. How did you make the noise?”, stated Suje.

“What noise?”, proclaimed Retro in confusion. “What were you spooked about a minute ago? You rolled your thimble dude. You freaking?”

With a little quiver in his voice, Suje said “I heard a noise over there. It was big.”.

“Man, you crazy, come on. We check it out”.

Oct 28, 2020
Keep your shirt on
Down to earth