Eating Clouds

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Chapter 4: A Tiny Voice

Chapter 4: A Tiny Voice

Lying on his tummy in the grass, in the middle of the forest where he hoped to find the little elves’ village, Ozzy sighed deeply. He couldn’t just go back home, not without the little elves. Gerald had said books were only stories, but Ozzy knew better. He knew that some of them were true. He could feel it.

He also felt how the sun dragged along the sky and almost painted the clouds pink, but he couldn’t leave just yet.

Quickly he stood up and patted the green of his clothes. Both his knees and behind were covered in green smudge. Not to mention his sleeves.

Ozzy felt something itching, and it wouldn’t surprise him if there was a little beetle in his hair or something. At least a few leafs. He could feel them break as he went with his hand through his raven coloured hair.

He looked at a beetle, who managed to climb over a tree trunk after a lot of effort.

“Good luck” Ozzy said to the insect, as meant for his further journeys. But the beetle didn’t respond, sadly.

The little boy blinked surprised when he saw the little thing spread his wings. It flew in a big circle and then turned into Ozzy’s direction. The beetle flew over the little boy’s shoulder, went around his head close to his ear, and then the other way around. The boy giggled, a little nervous by this sudden turn of events, and tried to follow the beetle with his eyes, afraid that if he’d move too much he’d scare it away.

After three rounds the beetle changed direction and left Ozzy, but the little boy couldn’t let him go just like that. “Farewell!”

The beetle didn’t return, but the little boy wasn’t bothered by that. He had to go on an adventure of his own. He had to find the little elves’ village.

He went over the clues once again, given by him by the strange blue book. There was high grass, a source for water and an oak for shadow and protection. Those were the important aspects, but for as far as Ozzy had seen he hadn’t come across a place in the forest which had all these things.

He had also run around a lot, jumped over fallen trunks, climbed into trees like a squirrel and jump to the next one (which didn’t work out as he planned. He managed to get a hold of a branch, which almost broke down, causing him to hang about two feet above the ground, before letting go and falling in a bed of leafs which conveniently lay there. It made him frown a little, because he hadn’t noticed it before.)

Ozzy breathed deeply and looked around once more. Today was, even though much time had already passed, a beautiful day. The sun shone through a roof made of leafs, making funny figures on the ground and trees. Now and then a soft wind blew through all the green, making everything shake a little and making a greater mess of Ozzy’s hair than it already was.During its travel through the forest it brought along a marvellous smell of fresh-and sweetness.

“High grass…” Ozzy mumbled to himself, waking himself up from the distraction of the amazing smell. It was so surprising, so new. He never smelled something like this in the city. There was only the aroma filthy gasses, garbage and unwashed clothes. There was no green, like in the pretty forest. There was only grey and high glass buildings.

There were also a lot of people in the city, but not in the forest, which was probably the thing Ozzy liked most about it. The people in the city always seemed angry and walked really fast, so fast it was difficult for a boy of Ozzy’s height to only cross the street. He had to make sure to not get dragged along the stream.

The forest was quiet and empty. There was a bush shaking here and there when a tiny animal ran back to its home. Sometimes grass curled sideways when another one of the insect kingdom made its way through.

Ozzy wondered how his friend the beetle, but then remembered he had to make haste to the little elves’ village. He was losing daylight like this.

It seemed best not to start running again, since it really wore him out. He also had to be careful where to put his feet, because there were many small bugs in the grass which he would crush with his shoe.

Not long ago, before he’d sat down and met the beetle, he’d climbed up a great oak in order to see where he could find the high grass, he’d noticed a small river running through the green pallet, not far from where he was then. If he could find the river, he’d probably reach the high grass as well.

Ozzy turned around, standing in front of that same oak, and held up his hands above his head. He made fists of them, excluding his thumb and index finger. With one of his hands he could make the letter ‘L’, which meant it was his left hand. The beetle had flew to the left.

His other hand was right, which was where the river was supposed to be. Ozzy smiled at his smart little trick and went on his way with renewed confidence.

He’d once read a book about rivers which said you could always hear a streaming river from afar, so he concentrated on his ears. And also his feet, because of the insects.

He stepped aside to give a ladybug room to pass, and almost fell down himself. Ozzy had seen a ladybug once before.

It had entered the book store through a window and immediately sat down on the edge of one of the pages of a book Ozzy was reading. He’d stopped immediately and inspected the small living thing carefully. He wanted to know what it was, so he asked Gerald, who gave him a book about insects. Ozzy knew what beetles looked like, and butterflies. And a centipede, who had a lot of arms.

“You should be more careful, you know” Ozzy warned the ladybug when he continued walking through the forest. He kept a good eye on the ladybug, but not on what was in front of him. He turned his head just a little too late and bumped into a tree which suddenly appeared. He cut his cheek at the wood, and immediately looked angry at the tree, as if it was his fault.

His cheek warmed under his hand and his chest also hurt. And his knees. And his feet too, because of all the walking.

“It’s all your fault!” Ozzy screamed angrily at the ladybug, who was now resting on the ground. It seemed to look up and stare back at the little boy, which spooked him. He didn’t expect the bug to actually understand what was being said to him. The insect looked at the boy with intelligent eyes and just wouldn’t look away. It made the boy feel uneasy. “Uh, sorry.”

The bug eyed Ozzy for a little while longer, before turning its head elsewhere. The little boy stood there dazzled before a small voice in his head reminded him of his quest in the forest.

“No time for hesitating, boy” he mumbled to himself. It was what Gerald told him when he was about to close the shop and the boy slipped his feet over the ground, not wanting to leave at all. There were just too many books that had yet to be read.

Ozzy kept walking through the green mass in a straight line and decided not to look at his feet anymore. He couldn’t help but to sometimes look down if he wasn’t hurting anyone, but he didn’t want to bump into another tree either.

After a while he started to notice something was off. There was a sound. A sound of something soft being slammed into an hard object such as a stone. Ozzy couldn’t exactly describe it, but it was something he’d never heard before. He realized then he didn’t know what a streaming river sounded like either. Could this be the sound it made?

He started to fasten his pace, until he was almost running again. It would make him tired, but he was too close to slack off now. The forest was enormous and now that he finally found a lead to what he was looking for all along. All the walking, running, climbing up and falling down wasn’t for naught after all.

Ozzy pushed aside a branch blocking his few, and then suddenly found himself standing at the bank of a small stream. It seemed smaller than he had anticipated at first when he had seen it from up the tree. Was this the same stream? Didn’t he end up reaching the wrong one?

He knelt down at the bank and analysed the water from up close. It was very clear, which surprised him. He could see the stones shining at the bottom. When the water hit the rocks peeking over the surface he could almost look through the drops flying through the air. Almost like a dance, Ozzy thought.

Curiously he put his hand in the water. It was shockingly cold, but felt soft in some way. He laughed at the refreshing element and suddenly felt the thirst in his throat.

He stuck another hand (his left one, he saw) in and made a bowl of the two of them combined. Bowing forward he took a sip and felt how the icy substance made its way down his throat. He could almost draw a line, that’s how cold it was. He giggled and took another sip, before let the remaining liquid slip through his fingers back in the pool.

He dried his hands with his trousers, which were dirty already, and decided to watch the stream some more. It moved so graciously, the way it curled up and spread but stayed clear. It wasn’t too deep, it would reach Ozzy’s elbows if he were to enter the stream. He didn’t, of course, he would never want to ruin the dance.

He followed the water with his eyes, which went to the left, till his eyes locked at something drifting on the water. Something that didn’t belong. He waited for it to come across his place at the riverbank before fishing it out with his hand.

It was a hat. A little hat. A tiny, purple, hat, with a green band around it. It would fit nicely as an accessory to the little boy’s thumb.

There was something sticking out of the green band, and when he looked closer he concluded it was a tiny flower. It was a real flower, not a fake one. He confirmed it by carefully touching it. The crown leafs were lively and soft.

Chuckling to himself, Ozzy crowned his thumb with this hat. Now his finger was like a little man. If he’d had a marker he could draw a face on it.

He moved his thumb around, pretending to be taking a walk whit his new friend.

His playtime got rudely interrupted by a high pitched scream of fear. Ozzy quickly jumped up, looking around. Where did that come from?

The next thing he heard was a scream for help. It came from the left, from the direction the water was streaming from. The little boy narrowed his eyes and searched every inch of the surface. It sounded like someone had fallen in.

“Help!” the voice screamed. It was a manly scream, a high pitched man’s voice. The screams were often interrupted by water entering the person’s mouth when it disappeared under water. Ozzy searched even harder, feeling panic rising up in his stomach.

Finally, he saw a small hand popping up. A tiny hand, as big as one finger tip of Ozzy’s. It moved around spastically in the apparently strong stream of the river. A short time after the hand had appeared a small round head surfaced. Two big round cheeks and a round little nose tried desperately to fight the water dragging it down. The glasses of the person hang across his face, only clinging to one ear.

“Help me! Please!” the little man begged. Ozzy didn’t hesitate any longer and stepped into the icy water. Close to the riverbank it only reached up to his knees, but he didn’t know how far he could go till he himself would disappear, but he didn’t think about it any longer. The little man needed his help badly.

Ozzy did his best to make his way against the stream to get closer to the little man, who drifted slowly towards him. He still moved around in panic, water splashing up everywhere.

Ozzy lifted him out of the stream with both his hands and fought his way back to the riverbank.

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