On the long path that found its way through the well traveled valley, people walked, talked, carted and camped, two boys were having an argument.
One said to the other ” Sure, your no good, what have ye ever done?”
“I done plenty, for you and for the rest” came the reply.
“For me! Sure, what did ye ever do for me?”
“Well…oh, I cant remember, like, a specific…”
“Ye never done feck all! Now shurrup about the whole lot of it”
“Aye, fair enough”
They walked , now slower, relaxing as the pace settled into a more casual walk.
“its lovely out here, ain’t it?”
“‘ It is”
“Shall we stop for a smoke?”
“There is a rock up there, we’ll sit on that, sure.”
“Sound…Race yah” and he was off, sprinting on the bumpy rocky road, headless in his haste.
The boy left behind looked up and down the path, ascertained that the blobs in the distance were far enough away that it was safe to expose himself and began urinating into the ditch at the side of the path.
On the side which he faced he could see a hut built into the valley side steadily exuding smoke from its stone chimney.
The boy hitched up his trousers, fastened his rope belt and jogged after his mate, who had rolled two cigarettes and was lighting both while stood on top of the rock, facing away from the smoking hut watching the distant figures.
Struggling to climb the rock to join him, the boy called out, “Give us a hand, Damien”
“Why of course, Padraig” said Damien, mocking his friends use of the formal Damien, while grabbing Padraig’s outstretched hand.
Damien handed Padraig a lit cig and gestured in the direction they had come from.
“Come a fair distance now, Podge” he said.
“We have, Damo, we have indeed.”
Both took a few pulls off their cigs and surveyed the remaining path.
“Tis more uphill from here on,” said Damien,” Its gonna get tougher.”
Padraig, looking at the sky, said “Its gonna get wetter first, look at that big feller!” He pointed at a dark grey cloud that had pierced the horizon and was moving quickly to cover the valley.
A gust of wind pulled at their cigs, the glow of there tips deeper as the valley darkened.
“Feck this man, lets head for that hut” said Padraig, looking away from the cloud.
Damien turned, slitted his eyes against the smoke rising from his cig and nodded in agreement.
Padraig, much more adept at getting down from the rock than getting up, simply hopped skipped and jumped his way down in three clean moves. Damien was more cautious and reconstructed his original ascension in reverse.
Padraig, looking at this reconstruction, said “Ah, I see how you done it now. Nice one.”
Damien dropped the last foot or so, turned and flicked his cigarette butt in Padraig’s direction, but the wind caught it before it reached him and blew it in the direction of the hut. The boys followed.
Further along the road, two girls were walking. They had noticed the cloud, the boys and could see smoke coming from what they guessed was a cottage of some sort.
They were slowly speeding up, one girl, her hair cut short in the style of poor city boys, panted “Should we holler?”
Her partner, not as short of breath, or hair, as she, said “No, we will just catch them, they wont move as fast through the grass.”
The short haired girl said “Oh, ok…Race yah!” and ran hooting as she sped down the incline of the path.
The long haired girl shook her head in both amusement and resignation to her friends wild whims.
Padraig and Damien were struggling through the long grass, just as the long haired girl had predicted.
Damien stopped, cocked his ear to the wind and said “Do you hear that?” He looked around and saw a young boy moving quickly towards them, and a girl chasing after him.
“Ha, look, ones slow like you, Podge” he said
“Why am I always a girl” said Padraig, not seeking an answer.
They could both hear the boy shouting now.
“Shall we wait?” said Padraig “What if he is a loon?”
“You ever see a loon run away from a girl before?” said Damien.
“True” said Padraig.
The girl with short hair, seeing that the boys had stopped and were facing her stopped, leaned back into the wind and let out a whoop, cupping her hands to her mouth to send her shout into the wind.
Her long haired companion caught up to her and barked “Would you shush, Verona!”
Verona stopped yelling, but whispered “Call me Tom, again”
“What? No, no more shenanigans. And why are you whispering you blamed fool, there a time away still.”
Verona scrunched up her face and harrumphed.
“Harrumph” she enunciated.
“Come on, before it rains.”
They walked now, seeing the boys walk toward them. The boys walked slowly and cautiously.
“Why are they coming towards us, Jen? dont they see the hut?” said Verona.
“They will probably offer to escort us two young ladies to that shack” said Jen, her eyes glazed over, looking into the middle distance. Snapping back to reality, she said, in a serious tone, “They are big boys. I think its best if you be Tom , Verona.”
Verona smiled with delight, opened her coat and untucked her jumper from her trousers and burped deeply.
“Ok, now I’m a boy” she said.
“Lovely,” said Jen. “Now, no tomfoolery, no windups, schemes or otherwise messing about, Tom.” She wagged her finger matronly as she said this, but a smile played at the corners of her mouth.
“No shenanigans” said Verona, saluting comically, crossing her eyes.
“Good. So shall we be brother and sister or…” started Jen.
“Or sister and brother,” finished Verona.
Jen laughed easily and said “Both! Hush now, Tom, we are getting close…”