Out of the Mouths

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.