Grey blankets drift along, comforting the young boy below as he explores his world. He is among friends. Scouring the ground, he looks carefully beneath rocks and bricks, besides his orange football and within the tufts of grass for signs of life. On top of this small rectangular patch of lawn on the surface of the earth, our ball that floats precariously in the infinite dark void, and as it circles in orbit around another, larger ball and whilst these balls find themselves nestled in amongst billions of other collections of balls circling around other larger balls, the young boy feels entirely content. He rarely looked up, preferring to study what’s going on under toe. Every woodlouse he finds goes into the jar. He’s made half a jar full of new friends this morning.
Walls higher than his mother could climb over, when trying to collect a towel that took off with the wind, keep his woodlice friends contained. His universe has four corners. These walls separate his universe with the endless possibilities of the neighbours’ gardens on either side. Earlier that week, on his father’s shoulders, his mother laid pieces of milk bottles on the top of the universe’s boundaries. Straining his eyes, he could make out glimmers of sunshine sparkling through the little spikey bits. Returning to his jar, he pushed his face up close to the glass and wondered what it would be like to be amongst his friends. To be the same size as them where he could lie on top of a few, have a few to the left and to the right and many more on top. It’d be like the ball pool his mum takes him to every now and then.
Tea Time. Come on! You’ve got your paws all dirty again. What did I tell you? He shook his head just a little, scared to look up. Come on now, you mucky pup. Go wash your hands, you’re having turkey twizzlers again. He smiled. She looked at the jar in his earthen hand, which was riddled with black pins with minute legs chaotically moving in rhythmic circles. A society dissolved into anarchy of her son’s jar. Each multi-legged creature in motion creating their own path, looking for an escape route. They’re my friends mum. Going in for a hug of his mother’s legs, he wipes his hands into the folds of her cotton dress. She’d find out later, of course. But that moment of embrace, ulterior motives aside, was all she needed. Oh, are they my dear? That’s lovely now isn’t it? But, shall we let your friends go back to their homes, now though love? To get back to their tea, probably waiting on the table for them now, isn’t it? Yeah, they probably wanna have tea too. Can I put them back, mum? She gave him back the jar of branston pickle.
He felt an urge to run, to break for freedom with his friends, to escape the tyranny of tea time, of rules, of bath time and bedtime, of school and of having to kiss the old women over the road on the hairy cheek after she gives him a bowl of pickled beetroot. It was time for him and his clan to fly away. Large blobs came in front of his eyes, he tried to shake them away to initiate take off but, with no immediate success, he kicked his left pin forward, followed by the right. Spreading his wings to their furthest reach, he flapped with the vigour of the swans at the pond his grandad takes him to. The jar was in the clasp of the left claw and as his increased speed lead to a bumpy run up, a few of his friends found their way out of their container earlier than scheduled. Flapping hard, and creating the eeeee noise necessary for flight, he put the left foot over the divide between garden path and lawn. The right foot was next to come. The left met ground with ease, allowing the right to take off into the air. He felt his face burst through the blanket of fluffy warm grey clouds above. Blue sky broke into sight. As he braved his second step over the divide, his right foot clipped the breezeblock lip of the path. He didn’t see the breezeblock was that high and his trajectory altered. Still looking up, the clouds were spinning quickly out of sight. He saw the jar and all his friends take flight as they left his grasp. Gravity pulled him towards the earth, blue skies turned grey once again and as his body twisted. He saw the grass grow quickly closer towards him, through his milk bottle frames.