Friday 26 April 2019

Little Detectives

by Michal Reibenbach

homemade lemonade

I live in Dillydale, a boring little village where nothing of importance ever happens. My best friend Chloe and I spend many happy hours together, playing the various street games which little girls do. By far our most exciting game is pretending we are ‘detectives’. 

Chloe’s parents are quite well off and have bought her a beautiful bike. Thus she cycles up the road, stops beside our front gate and waits for me. My family is poor and I don’t have a bicycle, besides my fearful mother would never allow me to ride a bike. We surreptitiously sneak over to one of my neighbors. He has an old, rusty, man’s bicycle with brakes that don’t work in his garage and permits me to use it. I call out to him, ‘Mr. Smith, I’m taking your bike!’ He calls back as he always does, ‘Alright, love.’ If my anxious mother were to find out that I am riding an enormous man’s bike without breaks she’ll have a fit! 

I love cycling, the sun above is bright, the breeze on my face is welcoming, the motion and speed as my legs move up and down, it’s a feeling of freedom.  We cycle down the trail through a pine wood, there is a fresh scented tang of the pine needles. Arriving at a pond, we dismount and lean our bikes on the rough, dark trunks of tall pine trees, rasin drools from wounds in their bark. As always Chloe has come fully equipped with a hamper of food, a folding gas ring, magnifying glasses, string, and various tools. We cook sausages on the gas ring, gulp them down with bread rolls and then eagerly eat the dessert which is a delicious chocolate cake. Having appeased our hunger we set about putting up booby traps by tying pieces of string from one tree trunk to another in order to trip up ‘thieves’ or ‘murderers’ who might be lurking in the forest. We also dig a hole which we cover with branches, into which we hope ‘the criminal’ will fall!  Then taking hold of our large magnifying glasses we slowly walk around the pond carefully inspecting the ground for anything suspicious. The magnifying glass enlarges our eyes enormously, it is quite startling. ‘I’m the ghost of the large eye,’ says Chloe in a moaning tone of voice and as a result, we double up in a fit of laughter. Tiring of our game we sit down at the edge of the pond. Shimmers move across the green surface. The lily-pads are in bloom. We throw pebbles into the water, they send ripples in ever-widening circles until they disappear. A woodpecker pecks a tree trunk hunting for insects and the sound dispersing around us. At length, we rise, brush the brown pine needles from off the back of our trousers, gather up our ‘stuff’, collect our bikes and cycle off back home.

Those childhood memories would be treasured forever.

Sixty years later:

I’m reading the book, ‘Little Detectives’ and the whole time I have the uncanny feeling of ‘deja vu’ as if I recognize all the streets and places described in this novel. As soon as I've turned over the last page I go shuffling off to my computer and search for the author’s name in Google. Low and behold! I discover that the author used to live in Dillydale, the same little village in which I  grew up in and he and his friend, although a year younger than I, also used to play ‘detectives’ as children. Now an old man the author has used his childhood memories from Dillydale to write the novel I’ve just finished reading, ‘Little Detectives’, which is so successful it is studied by some A level students for their literature exams and has also been produced as a film. As for me, I’m no writer but I am a good storyteller. I enjoy reminiscing about my memories to my children and grandchildren and I hope that they might someday also pass down my stories to their own children and grandchildren!

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