Small Green Man

A small green man sat nonchalantly on her hand. She gently turned him over, pondering his perfectness. Every small finger, every hair was… well, green. Emerald eyes twinkled in the sunlight. She smiled, and the soft lips grinned back. Carefully she laid her hand, inclined, onto the damp turf. The small green man slithered down her fingers, hesitated, surrounded by tall grass shoots, then cheerfully waved and walked jauntily into a patch of pink flowering clovers. She sighed, contented. He was safe now.

With a simple sweep of her hand she smoothed her creased skirt and turned to gaze along the gravel path back to the lake. In the blue misty shoreline an otter rolled and dived. The fairy lights of water splashes glinted over its wet coat. She called out and otter turned, waved in response to her greeting, and then slid into the deeper waters near the lily pads. Another sigh of contentment rustled through her, shivers of memory passing through her body. The otter meanwhile was about his business. Small fish darted away as disturbed pebbles flew into the lakeside foam. Otter was occupied with his searching amongst the gravel. He did not notice the dark shadow overhead. He was unaware of the stealth of the hunter at the water’s edge. Mere inches from where he worked the sombre danger watched. Silent, still and deadly. In the blackness of a moment the heron struck. Cacophony of breaking water shredded the air as an impaled fish died in an instant, passed out of time. A gentle gust swayed the lily pads, otter surfaced, hesitated and returned to his languid diving. Heron swallowed her supper.

She looked along the rock-strewn path in the opposite direction. There the boulders, water rounded, glacially scratched, rested amongst the unfurled tendrils of ferns. She narrowed her eyes against the low sun’s setting rays and gasped. Her little green man was involved in another escapade. Balancing on the highest point of the biggest stone he was, apparently, chatting to the local wagtail. The bird, never seen still, always nodding and weaving, was jumping around the rock pools. He, following her animated movements, skipped across chasms, clambered over boulders, chattering in a one sided conversation. She watched as he tumbled into soggy clefts, climbed up the ladders of moss, all the time laughing and talking with the busy wagtail.

Darkness spread over the lakeside, and a full moon rose through the notch in the easterly mountain. The first star of night flickered in the blackened sky. A dusk chill swept over the waveless water, as it became heaven’s mirror. Only in the turf mounds to the east of the water was there activity. Bright patches of ground glowed among the grassy tussocks, for now it was the hour for the people of the night to appear. The small green man returned home. His emerald green eyes glinted in the moonlight.

Alone in the darkness, she waited.

He stood by the kitchen sink. The dishes gleamed on the drainer. Sounds of laughter of parents and kin, talking one across the other, sang in a harmony where words are spoken but none are needed. He smiled. Yes. It had been a good day. The sort of day when memories are made for remembering in quieter times. At dawn he had crept out of the house and bowed down to the early sunshine. He looked out of the window now and watched the last oranges of sunset fade into night clouds. Out there, somewhere, she waits. She’d saved his life today. He realised then that he had hardly thanked her. Laughter echoed again from the adjoining room, and he knew he was not missed, nor essential to the entertainment. Time to rectify his omission before sleep arrived. He opened the outer door and slipped into the night. The gravel crunched beneath his feet as he stepped lightly. Fine whistles, chirping, rattles and silence intermingled. He felt the hot breath of something close by.

In the morning they found him. Set on a grassy green tussock, he lay curled, sandwiched, between her slender fingers.

Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011