Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: RASH (04/12/18)
TITLE: Broken Down Walls
By Jennifer Woodley
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Two small boys, bare foot and carefree, sauntered happily along the track leading through the reserve. With fishing rods swung leisurely over their shoulders, they were off to the nearby creek to catch ‘a big one.’
‘Dad says the yellow bellies are biten good today, Jackie.’
‘What we gonna do with the fish when we catch it, Tom?’ his friend replied.
‘Well, let’s see. First, dad says we gotta chop his head off. Then we gotta cut him in half and scrape all the guts out. And lastly, we scale him.’ Tom answered triumphantly.
Jackie looked dubiously inside the red, plastic bucket in his hand. There lay a rusty, old knife with a dull, blackened handle Tom had found in his dad’s shed. Inwardly, Jackie hoped the whole blood and guts job would not fall on his shoulders. Just fishing and catching sounded better to the little boy.
‘Hold up, what’s that?’ called out Tom as he stopped in his steps and grabbed his mate’s arm. Approaching cautiously and bending low, they spied a long line of caterpillars weaving across the path into the undergrowth.
‘They’re all joined together like a bit of fat cord,’ said Jackie.
‘Yeh, but these fellas are hairy and kinda cute. They’re really fuzzy. Wanna get a few for bait?’ suggested Tom.
‘Nah, worms are betta.’
‘Yeh, maybe. Too much juicy stuff might ooze out when we stick the hook in em. Maybe I’ll just get one and try it though.’
‘I reckon you betta leave em alone Tom. Mum told me once some caterpillars can be real mean when you touch their fuzzy fur,’ warned Jackie.
But little Tom, full of curiosity, could not resist. Fools rush in where wiser boys dare not go. The lad bent down lower and stroked the long line of caterpillars, lightly. Just oh so lightly! But that was enough. Within minutes of strolling on Tom cried out in alarm,
‘Jackie, my hand is itchin mighty bad.’ He stopped and began rubbing madly at the soft skin between his fingers.
‘Aww it’s nothin, Tom. Maybe you can just suck em for a while till the itchin stops.’
But that was no good. And when the boy looked at his fingers again, they were puffy, red and there was a rash of pinhead dots spreading across his hand.
In fright and horror, Tom held out his hand to arrest Jackie’s full attention.
‘Look at what them darn caterpillars did to me, Jack. They’ve bit me real bad. I can’t stand the stinging anymore. I’m goin home.’
‘Oh for cryin out loud Tom, it can’t be that bad!’
But the fine airborne hairs of the procession caterpillars had not let Jackie alone either. Even as he stood complaining to his friend, Jackie felt prickling on his feet, and tiny, red dots, irritated by his scratching, started to appear.
Turning together, little feet fled home to find salve and comfort in the arms of their waiting mothers.
Sometime later, curled up in his bed as an antihistamine began to ease his throbbing feet, Jackie’s mother gently offered her first words of admonition.
‘Jack, remember your favorite story in the Bible about Gideon and his friends blowing on their trumpets and marching around the city walls?’
‘Yep,’ Jackie said, between slurps of his hot chocolate.
‘Well, what happened to the walls of Jericho when they marched around it on the seventh time?’
‘The walls broke and fell down’ Jackie answered.
‘Exactly and the people raced in and destroyed their enemies. Well Jackie, racing in without thought and self-restraint causes us great damage too. When the walls were broken down, the city was unprotected and trouble came upon the enemy. When we have no self-control, our defenses are broken down and then we end up with lots of pain and trouble also.’
‘And that’s why the caterpillars hurt me and Jimmy, hey, mum!’
‘That’s right my boy. You’ve learnt the hard way, but you’ve learnt well.’
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