“Hey Bristlenut, taste this cake,” I said to my little brother Jim. He looked at me, unsure. The Australian sun had tanned his scrawny body a deep toffee, including his scalp under his trademark brush cut. “It tastes like chocolate,” I said, pretending to take a bite of the dirt mixture on my shovel.
He slowly took a small bite... ”It does!” he said with a muddy smile. I almost felt bad for a moment. Then I noticed something by my foot at the edge of the driveway. “Hey, did you know that snails taste like candy?”
“No they don’t!”
“They do! People pay a lot of money for them in fancy restaurants.”
As I reached for the snail, I glanced at the road and noticed a small cloud of dust in the distance, with a white spot in the centre, approaching fast. Clearly not a car. We lived in the last house before a small forest and a bridge to the more industrial part of Guildford, so there wasn’t much traffic on our end of the street.
The dust cleared as the object thundered over the bridge. Suddenly it was in front of our house – a heaving monster with menacing crimson eyes and clumps of filthy wool flapping against its sides. Jim and I shrieked. The bulging eye fixed on mine and its raw animal terror shot through me. In that heartbeat, it veered up the driveway toward us.
“Run!” I pushed my brother ahead of me to the backyard. “Mum! Help! Mum!”
My mother appeared on the back porch, annoyed and clearly about to tell us to stop fighting for probably the fourth time that day. When she saw what was chasing us, she picked up her whisk broom and hollered, “Get in the house!”
Crouched behind the dubious safety of the screen door, my brother and I watched the battle in fear and amazement. Representing evil: the not-so-white sheep. Representing good: my barefoot mum, with her helmet of short black hair and thick cat-eye glasses. She wielded her broom with an expertise that would have made an Amazonian proud. She chased the sheep through the sandbox and around the almond tree. Stymied by fences at every turn, the sheep crashed into the side of the shed, sending the sweet pea vine flying off the trellis. Thwack! went the broom against the sheep’s flank. Thunk! went the sheep’s head as it caught the edge of the rickety outhouse.
“Get out! Get out!” commanded Mum in that tone that we all knew and feared, sweeping the beast back to the driveway.
My brother and I raced through the house to the living room window. The sheep careened down the driveway, made a wide left turn onto the road and bolted off the way it had come. Back toward the abattoir at the other side of the bridge.
Lisa Sutcliffe is an Oakville, Ontario resident in the honeymoon stage of retirement. She is rediscovering the joy of writing something other than proposals and corporate documents, thanks to the inspirational environment of Brian Henry’s classes.
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