Hide and Seek

Sam covered his face with his hands and turned to the tallest wall “one…two..three…”

Jane and I scattered, stifling our giggles. “Ten…eleven..twelve…”

I saw Jane turn a corner and lost sight of her. The ruins were a maze. I clambered over a low wall and ducked down. “Thirty-three….thirty-four…thirty-five…”

I was in a square space. Walls on all four sides made of grey blocks, a small gap in one wall – maybe it had been a doorway. “Fifty-six…fifty-seven…fifty-eight…”

It must have been a home once. That’s what Mum said – this was once a small settlement. Impossible to imagine now, just squares laid out with low walls, nothing inside them, nothing to make them more alive than a lego project. “Seventy-nice…eighty…eighty-one…”

I traced my finger on the damp stone. There was lichen and maybe a fossil. Dad said there would be fossils. I tried to squint. My knees were getting damp on the wet ground and I shifted so that I was squatting instead, without raising my head above the top of what was left of the wall. “Eighty-eight, eighty-nine…ninety…”

What would our house look like if all that was left was a metre of wall and everything that made it home had been taken out? I closed my eyes and tried to imagine. “Ninety-three…ninety-four…ninety-five.”

I must be getting used to the cold, or maybe the wind had changed direction. I wasn’t as cold any more and the draught had gone, there even seemed to be heat coming from somewhere. “Ninety-six…ninety-seven…ninety-eight…”

I opened my eyes. There was a tiny horse carved out of something by my feet, lit by the light of flames. I picked it up and stood up, staring around me. The space around me was dark. A fire was burning in the middle of it. The walls were high and the only light came from a gap in the high roof and the low doorway. Pots and wooden furniture were tidily placed around the room.

I could hear people talking close by but Sam’s voice seemed further away. “Ninety-nine….One Hundred… Coming – Ready or….”

Clasping the tiny horse, I rushed to the doorway and ran outside. There were no ruins: I was surrounded by buildings and strangers in strange clothes were everywhere. One of them turned and stared at me. Pointed. Called out with words I didn’t know.

And I couldn’t hear Sam anymore.

Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permissionwall

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