It was a moment trapped in time; everything was frozen. Only the grass shimmered with its mirthless laughter around him. The daisies, struggling for breath, rose up tentatively through the grass and looked upon the scene and sighed collectively.
‘Ha ha. You look funny,’ giggled Janet.
Pause. Heavy deep suffocating pause.
She tried again: ‘Percy? Are you okay?’
A single thought swept through his mind; it spoke to him; whispered seductively to him…’I think I love her…’ Oh, how he longed to caress and stroke those frizzy, dilapidated brown curls. ‘Don’t even try it sonny Jim!’ hissed the curls.
But what was this exactly? His heart talking or his head? And why him? He did not know… Meanwhile, something strange and wonderful was occurring around him.
‘Boy! This kid has got it bad. He seeks adventure and look where it has taken him. It’s staring right in his bloody face!’
The voice was crisp, sharp and lightly croaky. It sounded wise, intelligent and slightly tinny as though it was reverberating from a small space.
So who could it be?
But of course, it was none other than Freddie the beetle.
‘I’m more concerned that he hadn’t realised adventure has been staring at him in the face since me and you entered his life all that time ago, old man.’
The gruff voice was unmistakeable. It had to be Rufus.
‘Well I think it’s about time we announced ourselves Rufus! I am positively sick of taking the backseat. Let’s go help Percy with his decision making!’
And with a puff on his miniscule pipe, Freddie’s moustache grew, he assumed an expression of sophistication and leapt onto Percy’s nose with a stern and commanding, ‘hey, listen here old chap! It’s about time you took your head out of the clouds and listen very closely. I can grant you two wishes and fix this life of yours forever; so wish wisely…’
Finally! Something in life that Percy had been longing for; talking pets and a solution!
‘Two… two wishes?’ spluttered Percy.
Damn, this can’t possibly be real, he must be positively dreaming!
Rufus whacked him round the head with his heavy paw and looked expectant: ‘quit beating around the bush and face facts. You love the girl. You know it. So stop running away from responsibility and be a man!’ His gruff rumbling startled Percy. He’d better tell her now before the madness consumed him and he lost her forever!
‘Tell her how you feel,’ rumbled Rufus in a softer, more sympathetic growl.
Okay yes, his resolution was definitive. But how to tell her?
He looked imploringly at Freddie who announced in a smug chuckle, ‘why you wish for it of course!’
Percy’s mind raced through thoughts of cars, money, unlimited ice cream and games consoles, no school, no exercise and absolutely no homework; each idea becoming more farfetched than the last. Yet it was Janet’s sweet expectation, her devoted patience that centred him. How could he deny her endless happiness? And he did love her, didn’t he? A whoosh of warm air embraced him and he finally knew what to wish for.
‘Janet. My beautiful chestnut, I wish to accept this future marriage proposal and get married to thee. You have my whole heart at your feet, please, treat it well.’
Janet was beside herself with victory and joy. She had always longed for this very moment. However, she acted coy and demure in response, teasing him with a reserved smile and a glittering eye.
‘Great. That’s settled then!’
With a shy kiss on his lips she leant into his shoulder with a swish of her skirts.
The atmosphere unfroze and the sun shone relentlessly, brightly, as though it was both Freddie and Rufus smiling down upon Percy and Janet in blessing. It illuminated them within an iridescent bubble that isolated them from their school surroundings; it was as though nature itself was applauding Percy for fulfilling his inner desire.
Love smiled. She always knew how to make magic happen. The cheeky minx.