I am sitting under a tree in a small area of woodland, thinking about life and death and my friend, Herman. On the other side of a wire fence I notice a group of school children. They are on litter-picking patrol and are spread out across the field, eyes to the ground, in search of sweet wrappers and crisp packets.
Suddenly, I hear a voice calling to me. I look up and see a line of small boys standing along the fence line.
First Boy: Excuse me …. what are you doing?
Me: I’m sitting and resting for a while.
First Boy: Is this the first time you’ve been here?
Me: No, I used to come here with my dog.
First Boy: Where’s your dog now?
Me: He died.
Second Boy: Awww that’s so sad.
Third Boy: My grandpa had a dog, a Jack Russell and he died too. He was 16.
Fourth Boy: My fish died but fish don’t live as long as dogs.
Me: Death is sad, isn’t it?
At this point I wonder whether I might be getting them into trouble and I suggest they return to their teacher and their litter-collecting duties. I stand up to leave.
First Boy: Oh, don’t go. Please stay.
Me: I have to go home now.
First Boy: Will you come back another time?
Me: Maybe I will.
As I walk away, the children remain standing on the fence line and we wave until we can no longer see each other.