Harper snuck in as many glances as she could at Greenvale’s Royal Park in between Harper Dane’s complaints about the fact that her and Tahlia Sandsmith both wore the same style of shoes to school today. Harper knew when to nod, periodically letting them out in sets of three to give the illusion that she was listening. The negative focus on otherwise petty daily events were the very things that led to Harper becoming increasingly assertive when it came to reclaiming her time as her own. Usually, she would nod away and let her friend go through the motions and Amelia would eventually conclude that these matters maybe didn’t need to take up any more energy than they already were. The distraction today, however, came from the unshakable feeling that something was different about the park. Very different.
The feeling reminded Harper of the time she had walked into her grandmother’s house and could tell that something was missing, but couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. At the time, Harper was not only concerned about the fact that things were missing that she didn’t know about, but also about the fact that parts of her brain knew more than what she thought she did.
“I mean, I basically spent the whole day spying on her just to make sure nobody noticed we were wearing the same shoes,” Amelia continued.
“Uh huh,” replied Harper while nodding.
“You’ve done that thing where you zone out again, haven’t you?” Amelia asked.
Harper encouraged her friend to look behind her. “The park,” she said, “Do you notice anything different?”
Amelia squinted, her forehead displaying lines of concentration. “Yeah,” she said, flicking her ponytail behind her as she turned back to Harper. “It’s the boulder.”
Harper nodded, slowly this time. Amelia was right. In the middle of the park, was a boulder that had never been there before. She heard Amelia call out to her as she started walking towards the large rock but, knowing that her friend would follow her, she ignored her and kept walking with intent.
The boulder looked as though someone had sprinkled black and silver glitter along its light grey surface and some long lines and dark cracks aged its otherwise smooth exterior. Standing at its base, Harper ran her right hand along one of the smaller lines and felt the surface vibrate. She placed her left-hand flat against its surface and turned her head to better her position her ear against the boulder. Closing her eyes, Harper concentrated on trying to use her senses to get whatever information she could. There was a deep, low humming coming from inside.
“I wouldn’t be going near that thing,” Amelia announced, breaking Harper’s near-hypnotic state. Just as Harper opened her eyes, the humming turned into a grumble, making the boulder vibrate with such ferocity that the two girls took several steps away.
Cracks continued to appear along the boulder, and the girls knew that they should move, but they were unable to make the connection between their brains and their legs. They were frozen. Harper’s eye darted towards the top of the boulder. Its surface was splitting, and something was coming out. A wing. Harper had never seen a creature so large before, but she didn’t have much time to process that before being distracted by a man, who the girls knew as Jim, placing his hands against the rock and whispering something they were unable to hear. The wing dropped back into the rock, and the cracks began to close.
“You girls better go,” Jim said in a surprisingly calm manner. The girls ran towards the edge of the park so fast that their school bags were swaying from side to side. When they got to the edge of the park, they found a hedge and peeked over its top. They held each other’s hands as they watched Jim arch his back and position the back of his head and lift the boulder on to his back. He managed to carry the boulder out of the park, heading towards the train tracks on the outskirts of town. The girls lost site of Jim and the boulder just for a moment as the Charleville train went past. By the time the last carriage had sped past, Jim and the boulder were gone. Amelia and Harper stared at each other for a moment before convincing their legs that it was time to run home.
THIS TALE HAS CONNECTIONS TO #135 – THE HEAVY TALE OF BOULDER JIM – CLICK HERE TO GO DEEPER!
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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