“We’ll have to roll it to Larry”, decided Lois. “Are you kidding? What if someone sees us with it?” Leona was very worried.
The ball’s name was Manny and it did not appreciate being called ‘it’.
The ball listened intently to the scheming girls as it was being rolled along the riverbed, dribbled between two of the lions (Leona, too embarrassed to be seen with her sisters, was following 30 paces behind). The ball knew it had made a terrible mistake.
Like the lions, the ball was well aware of fertogafers, but had never seen one for itself. In fact, its mother had drilled into it, the golden rule of their exclusive species: “YOU MUSTN’T BE SEEN!” This rule had been passed on for countless generations. It was uttered at every possible opportunity, even when it didn’t seen necessary- “Manny, can you please pass the termintes? And remember, YOU MUSTN’T BE SEEN!” “Yes, you may go outside and tease some Red Romans, but YOU MUSTN’T BE SEEN!”
There were, obviously, some exceptions to this rule. It’s permissible to be seen (especially by fertogefers) if their likely response will be, “Yip, that there’s an armadillo, ya see ‘em squashed all the time out on the I-95”. But it was a rule that if anything that sees you is going to enjoy seeing you, appreciate how special and unique you are and take a genuine interest in you, YOU MUSTN’T BE SEEN! (Author’s note: Yes, I am bitter.)
To fight off the nausea induced by the relentless rolling, the ball pondered the series of events which had led it here. Rolling was not its preferred method of travel and it wasn’t accustomed to it. Tucked safely within, it possessed four legs, although it rarely used its front ones. Walking around on all fours was so terribly primitive.
It had arrived at that fateful bush by following an ant. At any point along the journey, it could have used it freakishly long tongue to reach out and gobble up the ant. In fact, the ant was expecting this. With each tiny step, the ant recalled the happiest memories in its short life, like the time it learned that millipedes made brilliant ‘bendy’ buses. But the ball had bigger plans for the ant. The ball hypothesized that if this ant was left to live, it would lead to more ants. To its dismay, the ant led it not to more ants, but to this particular bush by the roadside, where it was promptly eaten by an exceptionally fat Ground Agama. ‘Fantastic’ thought the ball to itself. AND YOU MUSTN’T BE SEEN!
So there it found itself, far from home in mid-afternoon under a bush with no travel snacks. Despite being quite blind, it knew there were lions about. The lionesses wouldn’t care to be reminded that they shamelessly neglected their hygiene in favour of their looks. The ball also felt the rumble of the approaching dust cloud long before the girls did. The rest is history.
By this time, the ball was sufficiently hot and dizzy and wanted very much to be tucked away in its burrow.
As they rolled the ball along, the girls continued to speculate. “I think it’s just a tortoise. Yes, I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s a tortoise”, said Lois. From 30 paces behind, Leona shouted, “What about a mongoose? It may be a mongoose with a terrible skin condition. I have a lovely cream that should help…”. But then Leona remembered that she didn’t like the ball, whatever it was, and was certainly not going to share her cream with it. She hoped the other girls hadn’t heard her offer, so there wouldn’t be a need to formally retract it. “What will happen to the garden ornaments if the whales can’t read?” Lisa asked Lois, with grave concern in her voice.
“Do tell me you haven’t kicked that poor Pangolin all the way here?” quizzed Larry when he saw the girls approaching. Embarrassed, they stopped in their tracks.