I leave with a story

Far beyond the hills Amanda could see the herd of sheep grazing. Their little black noses nudged the sparse green grass, nosing out the tastier, younger strands. She squinted into the bright sunshine and laid down under the large oak tree. Somewhere down below, where the town lay, people would begin waking up. The fat jolly baker would open his door and beckon people into his shop, all the while making a grab for women’s behinds. He would leave a large flour-coated handprint on the right or the left, whichever side he managed to snatch. The women would yelp and wobble their fingers at him, then place a few coins in his outstretched hand and walk away with a big loaf.

Amanda closed her eyes. Little bugs tickled her cheeks and buzzed by her ears. She swatted them away. Though the sun was shining on her, their was little warmth from it yet, leaving Amanda shivering a little in her thin cotton smock. She gathered her shawl closer to her body to ward off the cold.

“Amanda!” It was Lionel, the boy from the next farm. Amanda could see a satchel hanging from his shoulder as he made his way around the curious sheep. “No, no, this ain’t for you, silly,” he said to the sheep.

“Hey, Lionel. Whatcha got there?”

He held up the dark brown rucksack and deposited it at her feet. Fist-sized balls of white mozzarella spilled out of the opening. “Here. Ma said t’ give some t’ ya while yous working out here. We made ’em fresh jus yes’day aft’noon.” He picked up one of the larger balls and handed it to her.

Pulling her hands away, Amanda said, “Oh no, I can’t take that without paying, Lional. Ma would get mad at me.” She shook her head as he moved it closer to her.

“Well, how bout this then. We’s share it fer breakfast, and was lef’ yous can bring home t’ yer folks. Square?” He grinned, showing his crooked off-white teeth. One of the middle ones was chipped near the top. Amanda couldn’t remember whether that had been there before.

“Okay. That’ll work, Lionel.”

She reached for her own bag and pulled out a hearty loaf of dark bread. With her fingers she opened it down the middle, then broke it in half. Lionel had unwrapped the cheese and broken off bits. He put them into the offered bread and then handed one half back to her. Then he resealed the cheese and handed it to her.

They sat against the large leafy oak tree and watched the sheep grazing. The mozzarella was soft and chewy, salty on the outside, creamy on the inside. With her homemade loaf the sandwich was perfect.

“You know what I want to do one day?” she suddenly said.

“Wassat?” Lionel asked, stuffing the last bit of bread and cheese into his mouth.

“When I get old enough I think I wanna go outside.”

“What yer babblin’ bout? Yous already ou’side.”

“I mean, outside of the town. You know, see what else in in the world. There’s got to be more than this.” He nodded his understanding, still chewing slowly the last bit of breakfast. “Haven’t you ever been curious about what’s out there? I’d like to know. No more of this watching sheep business when I’m twenty.”

“I onno, I’s got a good life here. Yous pro’ly more cur’os cuz yous gone to school. I don’ really mind living here rest ma life.” Lionel picked at blade of grass from the ground and brought it between his palms. Then he make a shrieking whistle with it. The sheep all looking up for a second, registered that it was a false alarm, and went back to their nosing about.

Lionel stood up and picked his satchel off the ground. “You gotta do what is yous want, though, Amanda. If thas what you want, you should ‘splore outside. See ya.” Then he waved and headed back down the hill towards the town, reaching in his bag for some of the better looking mozzarella balls to advertise before selling.

Amanda sat back and looked at her dirty sheep. They didn’t care about anything except food. Sometimes she wished her parents had never sent her to school. Maybe they did it on purpose though. Maybe they wanted her to go somewhere else. She had a lot to start thinking about, but plenty of time to think about it. Summer was starting.

 

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