The Writers Bloc workshops produce some amazing work. This piece from Athol Henry is no exception. I was captivated by the brevity and magic that's woven into this little story.
Did you know that if you share your stories (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, any kind of story) in the workshops, they could be selected for publication in Bloc Features? Start here.
Fly like a bird taller than the stars
“Goodbye, Colin,” said the lady standing next to the toy tree. She had bird feathers tied to the ends of her hair.
The lady held out a ball, “Do you know what this is?”
Colin shrugged, “An old ball?”
“Not just any old ball,” the lady said, “This is a magic ball. It will let you fly like a bird taller than the stars.”
“It will?” said Colin as he studied the ball patched with duct tape.
The lady continued, “But only if you can guess what is in this box.”
In her other hand the lady held a small wooden box with a lock on the lid.
Colin looked at the ball closely. He was about to ask for a clue when he discovered the lady had gone. Only the toy tree, dust and spinifex were all he could see.
A monster wind once grew from the sea, and blew so hard it smashed the houses. The only things left after the wind were the Roadhouse and the toy tree. When families left Kinawonnapa, each kid put a toy in the tree to say goodbye.
“I am the only kid in Kinawonnapa,” Colin said to a large teddy in the toy tree.
He ran home to the Roadhouse.
Colin looked at the poster stuck to the wall of the cafe. Workers from the mines told him it is Eusȇbio, one of the greatest players of all time.
“I have a magic ball,” Colin said to the great Eusȇbio.
The great Eusȇbio looked down at Colin and said, “Football is a magic game, the game of life. To play you must have courage. You must believe in yourself. But most of all you must have a dream. And even though managers and coaches write the story, the only play that counts is on the field. Football is the Theatre of Dreams,” he smiled.
“Wow!” Colin said. He took his ball patched with tape to the park. He kicked it into the net.
Colin waited for magic to start. He waited and waited. But nothing happened. Colin sighed, “If only I knew what was in the box.” He picked up his ball and ran off.
Colin carried the toys from the toy tree to the park.
He put the zebra who wanted to be a unicorn and a dancing gorilla as midfielders. He chose Pixie a Dinosaur and a Smiley Crocodile as the defenders. For the goalie Colin found a large teddy bear that always wanted to fall over.
“You’ll never save a goal if you fall asleep,” Colin said. He pushed the bear up again.
Colin looked at his team of toys. He liked them, except for the large teddy. He had fallen asleep again.
“I’m sorry Mr Bear but you are going to have to sit on the sideline.” Colin carried the bear off the field. He hung an orang-utan from the top of the chicken coup, which was also the goal.
It was getting late. The sun was almost behind the flat topped hill called El Mesa. Colin waved goodbye to the toys and ran home.
Colin looked out his bedroom window. He could see El Mesa under the moon. “I will fly like a bird taller than the stars,” he said quietly. If only he could guess what was in the box. Colin fell asleep. He dreamt he was playing football against the rest of the world.
When he woke up the next morning, Colin looked up at a poster on his bedroom wall. It was the picture of Xavi, the great Spanish player.
“I am going to fly like a bird and score nine gazillion goals today,” Colin said. He quickly got dressed and ran outside.
A girl was sitting on a hill beside the park.
“Oh,” Colin said, “Where did she come from?” he waved to her.
The girl did not wave back.
He pulled out a tiny whistle and blew it, thuurrrp!
Colin kicked the ball. He ran after it before the wombat got it. Colin’s feet were flying. He thought he would fly up into the clouds.
“I will fly like a bird taller than the stars,” Colin yelled. He kicked the ball over the spotty crocodile. It landed next to Pixie a Dinosaur. Colin kicked the ball as hard as he could. It did not go over the head of Zebra who wants to be a Unicorn or land near the dancing gorilla, but flew out of the park. The ball flew higher and higher until was just a little dot. It bounced off a cloud and came down, down, down and bounced with a boom. It bounced with a bing. It stopped with a fphssssssssst.
Colin’s magic ball landed in a spinifex.
Colin crept up to it. He picked up a stick and poked the ball. He heard a loud hiss. The ball crumpled and flopped with a thud. A sharp needle from the bush stuck out of the side. Colin sat in the hot sand with his flat ball.
“How can I be the bestest player in the whole world without a ball?” He wanted to cry.
A new ball rolled into the park.
The girl started to kick it.
Colin looked up and saw her, “Hey! You can’t play here. This is my game,” he yelled.
The girl said, “So? Who are you?” She picked up her ball.
Colin blinked. “I’m…er…the only kid in Kinawonnapa and I have a magic ball.”
“What is so magic about it?” The girl asked.
“Well…” Colin shrugged, “I have to guess what is in a box carried by an old lady to find out.”
The girl bounced the ball on her knee. She flicked it over her head and kicked it with her heel. She trapped the ball with the side of her foot. She said, “My name is Kala. It means fire.”
Kala kicked her ball to Colin.
Colin leapt after it.
He dribbled the ball with both feet. Just as he was about to pass, the girl tackled him. She kicked the ball away.
I'm so thrilled to have an excuse to read as much great writing as possible, and that includes your writing. Every month I'll feature a great bunch of words from the Writers Bloc workshop, which is something anyone can be involved in. We pay writers $50 to feature their pieces at Bloc Features, and would love to read yours. Head to http://thewritersbloc.net/ to get started!
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