How The Little People Found Their Home

In the lounge room of the modestly proportioned suburban bungalow lived a small clan of little people. They were too small to be seen by the naked eye. Even if you squinted and looked very hard and concentrated until your eyes started to hurt you still couldn’t have seen them. That’s how little they were. Not just tiny. They were very tiny. Very tiny indeed. They were much smaller than ants. In fact they were scared of ants. Ants weren’t much of a problem though, as Mrs. Hughes, the woman who lived in the house was meticulously neat. She did one big clean each week, moving carefully about the house, from room to room, with her green bucket and sponges, spreading the agreeable smell of vinegar into the very fabric of each room as she went. Sometimes the smell could sting your eyes, but mostly it just smelled like cleaning day. Cleaning day was Thursday and it was vinegary.

Often the little people sought refuge in the joins between floorboards. To them these were like trenches criss-crossing the floor, and you could jump down into a nearby trench, if there was danger, and wait for it to pass. But not on cleaning day. On cleaning day Mrs. Hughes was especially keen to make sure that the floor was spotless, and so she would sweep, scrub, and mop the floor, then sweep again. Sweeping wasn’t too bad for the little people. They were quite safe in their trenches while Mrs. Hughes swept the lounge room. Scrubbing was a little bit less safe. There was the problem of the vinegar that she used to remove stains and other unsightly spots on the floor – it smelled very strong to the little people, and the very old and very young among them would swoon and become light-headed and sometimes even faint when the scrubbing brush came near. But mopping, now that was the really dangerous part of Mrs. Hughes’ work. As she moved across the room, waves of frothy water would fill and wash out all the contents of each trench. It was scary if you were caught in a place like this and the mop came your way. A torrent of the foam could send you half way across the floor – to the other side of the little people’s known world – in a few seconds. The little people had no option but to move around the room, in advance of Mrs. Hughes, until she had finished the lounge room and moved on to the hallway, leading up to the front door. When she had finished, the little people would stay where they were, pitch camp, and get out all of their yellowest things.

Yellow was a very important colour to the little people. They made everything yellow. Their little tents were yellow, and their clothes were yellow. They even used the word as a substitute for ‘good’. In a conversation a little person adult might say to another little person adult, “Your son was helping me get the washing in earlier. He’s a yellow young man.” Yellow was a big compliment to be paid. There was none higher.

The little people hadn’t always revered yellow though. When they first arrived at Mrs. Hughes’ lounge room, they had been cold and shivery and had had barely enough to clothe themselves with. Mrs. Hughes had two companions, a large black dog, and a small white dog with brown patches on her face. To the little people these creatures were like two gods. Gods who make war on each other and stir up the elements. They thought they were going to be killed when they first saw the big black one. The way she stomped around, the commotion when she relined on the ground with a thump, the noise that she made when she hit her head on the coffee table – it was deafening and scary and they weren’t so sure they would be safe here, in Mrs. Hughes’ lounge room. Then the other dog appeared on the scene and the pair would squabble over their tennis ball. Mrs. Hughes would toss the ball, the two dogs would jump and dive for it, and then seem to argue amongst themselves about whose ball it was and who should have possession. They were enjoying themselves, but the little people were scared. When the commotion died down, the smaller dog would position the tennis ball between her paws and methodically strip off the ‘hair’ from the surface. When the little people realised that this golden material could be woven into fabric, it seemed to solve their coldness problem. They made everything they needed in yellow, and gave thanks every day to the benevolent god, the god they called Li, for providing them with the comfort they so desperately wanted.

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Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 6:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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