Homage to AA Milne. Winner of The Writer's Cramp. Finalist in Talk of the Flight Deck.
Weatherby George Dupree
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.”
A.A. Milne (“Winnie the Pooh” author)
On sunny days James James would spend time in the garden, ensuring that all was in order and as it should be. It was important to know that the bird feeder was replenished correctly, the lawn neatly trimmed so as not to encroach on the flower beds and the door to the shed appropriately closed and locked with its great padlock. These things are essential for good garden upkeep and there were, regrettably, occasions when James James would have to speak sternly to his mother about them,
On the day that concerns us, James James had just started his inspection when he heard a quiet voice.
“Hey,” said the voice.
James James turned to look in the direction of the sound but could see no one. He stood still and waited for the voice to speak again.
“I’m here, behind the fence.”
The voice was a little stronger now and James James realised that it came from a gap between the wooden planks of the fence. He moved toward the fence, treading carefully as he crossed the flower bed that bordered it. Placing his feet in two areas where no plants grew, he bent over and looked through the gap. An eye of clear blue gazed back at him.
“Who are you?” asked James James.
The eye blinked and answered softly, “My name’s Jennifer.”
James James knew full well that it was now his turn to introduce himself. “And I am James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree,” he announced, giving due attention to the proper cadence of the words.
The eye blinked again. “Why do you have so many names?”
James James hesitated a moment before answering. “I suppose it’s because my mother could not decide which one she liked best. She is sometimes like that and I have to make decisions for her.”
Jennifer was silent for a while. Then her eye blinked and she spoke again in her soft little voice. “I like your mummy. She sounds nice.”
This set James James to thinking again. He had never before considered the matter of liking or disliking his mother. In general he had no complaints and she was always polite and attentive towards his expectations. Yes, he thought. His mother was indeed “nice”.
Jennifer spoke again before James James could advise her of his decision on the niceness of his mother. “Would you like to come and visit me in my garden?”
James James looked up at the towering height of the fence in front of him.
“How would I get over the fence?” he asked.
There was silence as Jennifer considered the problem. James James placed his eye back at the gap and saw that his vision was now of a delicate neck stretched upward as Jennifer gazed at the top of the fence.
Then her eye returned and she spoke. “You could ask your mummy if it’s alright to visit me. You wouldn’t have to get over the fence then. Your mummy could bring you round by the front door.”
It was now James James’ turn to ponder. He could ask his mother, it was true. But that would mean ceding his position to her. He was the one who made the decisions and he disliked the idea of relinquishing his authority. Maybe Jennifer could solve this dilemma.
“My mother doesn’t like making decisions,” he said
“I see,” answered Jennifer. “You will have to decide for her.”
“How can I do that?” asked James James. “Usually I just have to tell her something and she does it. She knows the rules, you see. But she won’t like being told to let me visit you.”
Jennifer blinked the eye several times, her mind racing. “You will have to be very clever about how you tell her. Don’t give her the order right away but mention that you have met me and that I think it would be a good idea for you to come over. If you say that you haven’t decided yet, she will think that it is all my idea. Almost certainly she will then persuade you to say yes.”
James James stared at Jennifer’s eye in admiration. This was the most brilliant idea he had ever heard. His new friend was clearly a genius.
“That’s it!” exclaimed James James. “I’m going to tell her right now.”
He turned and ran toward the house, not noticing that he trampled some flowers in his haste.
Word Count: 769