Around the world and back again
The little hamster ran like crazy around a wheel inside its cage.
‘Don’t your tiny feet get tired?’ frowned Aled. ‘Don’t you feel sick?’
The hamster slowed down and looked at Aled. Aled stared into its eyes for an answer, but he didn’t get one.
‘It must be like living in school every single day,’ Aled looked disgusted. ‘If that’s how it feels, then I have no choice but to set you free.’
The hamster went even faster than before.
‘Wouldn’t you like to be free to run around the world?’ He shouted into the cage. But the hamster ignored him.
‘Oh, I would love to run around the world,’ said Aled leaning against his bed. And he wondered if this was possible. Everybody would notice me then, he thought, even my teacher.
‘I will start practising,’ he said to the hamster. ‘And when I am ten, I will be fit enough to run around the world.
So Aled Evans ran around the garden five times, then ten times, then fifteen times. By the end of the week he could run around the garden fifty times without stopping and without getting out of breath. It was a good-sized garden too.
The following week, Aled began to run around the village of Gusty Gully. This was more of a challenge. ‘I can do this,’ he thought. I can do anything if I try hard enough.’
Aled Evans smiled to himself as he ran through the village. He saw people watching him. He could see them peeping around the curtains of their homes. I like this, he thought. No one has ever noticed me before.
‘Where are you going in such a hurry?’ shouted Phil the Fish as he whizzed past him. Ugh! The smell of fish makes me feel sick, he thought. So, he ran even faster and shouted, ‘around the world!’ on the top of his voice.
‘Can I join in?’ said Tom the Egg as he ran past the home for waifs and strays.
Aled put up his hand and nodded.
‘Can we come too?’ said Archie and Ollie as they walked home from school.
Tom put up his hand again and nodded.
‘Where are you going?’ shouted Megan and Hayley as they came out of the sweet shop.
‘Around the world,’ Tom the egg shouted back.
‘We’re coming too!’ said the girls and they stuffed their sweets in their pockets and began to run.
Aled looked back and saw the trail of children following him. They will notice me now, he thought and grinned from ear to ear.
Mrs Bumblebee was standing outside the school watching them come up the road. When she saw who it was, she put her hand up for them to stop, just like a lollipop lady. But they didn’t stop. They ran past her and kept on going. Mrs Bumblebee was so shocked, she ran after them.
‘Where are you going?’ she shouted breathlessly.
‘Around the world,’ they all shouted back. And by now, almost all the children in the village were running.
It was Barry Book and Pencil that stopped them. You see, he was the village policeman. He jumped off his bicycle and put his hand up. The trail of running children skidded to a halt, almost crashing into one and other. Barry Book and Pencil lined them all up against the hedge at the home for waifs and strays. The kind and unassuming man watched in amazement.
‘What are you doing?’ said the policemen, reaching inside his coat for a book and pencil.
‘Running around the world,’ replied Aled proudly.
‘What do you want to do that for?’ Barry Book and Pencil was taking notes. ‘There will be no one left in the village if you all leave.’
‘There would be no school,’ said Mrs Bumblebee.
‘And no need for a village shop,’ said Ian the news.
‘And no-one to help look after all the waifs and strays,’ said the lady whose garden was full of animals that needed a lot of love and attention. This made Tom the Egg feel guilty.
‘And who would buy my fish?’ said Phil the Fish ‘if there were no children to feed.’
They could live in the sea, Aled thought happily, as he looked at everyone, looking at him.
This is amazing, I could keep on running and they would all follow me! He thought.
But he didn’t carry on running. Instead, Aled stood in front of his friends and knew that Barry book and Pencil was right, Gusty Gully would become a Ghost town and grow weeds. The crows and the seagulls would squat in empty places and there would be no one to help at the home for waifs and strays. No, he couldn’t do that, not yet anyway.
‘This is our home,’ he said nodding his head. ‘This is our world, until we grow up and can go our own way. And we do need a lot more practice.’
They all agreed, and Barry Book and Pencil put his notes away and sighed with relief.
That night as Aled watched the hamster run around her ball, he smiled at her.
‘And this is your world too,’ he said happily. ‘You are well fed, warm and safe.’
‘Goodnight, all you runners in Gusty Gully. Goodnight world. One day I will run around you...and all the way back!’