Life On Earth

By Serena Wyle

Lana’s feet dangled over the jetty’s edge. The water was lower this year and she couldn’t quite touch the surface with the ends of her toes.

This was Lana’s favourite time of day, on her favourite day of the week, in her favourite part of the year. Summer. Early in the season, when the sun was just warm and welcome. Monday, when the rest of the world disappeared to work and school. And mid-morning, with the day’s possibilities still stretched before her like a smorgasbord.

She leaned forward and peered into the green-tinted world at her feet.

Schools of tiny fish, pale, almost translucent, darted through the calm sway of the seagrass. Lana was fascinated by those little fish. There were so many of them, swimming so closely together. They darted and slowed and constantly changed direction, always in time and seemingly without pattern.

But she had never seen one fish bump into another.  Never.

After a few minutes wondering whether there were fish policemen or maybe tiny fish traffic lights too small for her to see, Lana pulled her legs up and stood.

She looked back along the jetty, along the cracked concrete path that marked one side of the playground. On the other side of the yellowing grass, beyond the multi-coloured climbing frame and the sandpit set in an old rowboat, Lana could see Frank’s ice-cream van.

Frank was leaning out the window and waving at her. He’d finished his coffee and fag. It was time to go. Most days they headed to King’s Park. There was a much bigger playground there, lots of screaming kids and tired mums desperate for peace. Rich pickings.

Lana skipped back along the jetty, extending her limbs in a graceful ballerina leap off the end. Then she sprinted to the van, flung open the passenger door and leapt in with a grin.

“I thought I was going to drive this time?”

Frank shrugged as he started the engine. “Too late, dreamer. You snooze, you lose.”

 ***

“Is that all you’ve done? That’s pathetic!”

“I’d like to see you do better…I’ve only had a week, you know.”

“Bah, I have done better – look at Mars! And it only took me a couple of days.”

“What? That thing? It’s nothing but a hot red ball! At least Freddy put rings around his to make it interesting. But this…this is Creation. See the lovely colours? Lots of blues and greens. Very soothing. And it goes with the curtains. Mum’ll love it.

“What are all those wriggling things on the surface? You haven’t made life have you?

“What if I have?”

“For Pete’s sake, you know it’s too hot in here…that thing’s just going to keep getting warmer until everything dies and goes brown and smelly. She’ll have to chuck it out…”

“But it’s more interesting…”

“…and we’ll have to make another one. Look, the party’s tomorrow. Just get on with it will you?

“Okay, but it won’t be the same without life.”

 

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