Day 362: The Pit

The Pit
Matt Zurbo


(Opening image of Sandy, sitting on a bench, alone, looking at a group of schoolkids to the left, clustered, talking, laughing.)

No-one knew where the Pit came from.
It just appeared one day, in Sandy’s backyard.
(Girl looking down into ten foot wide hole.)

The Pit had the best echo!
(Sandy lying, head over edge, saying “Hello…” Jumble of letters/words coming up out of the pit: HELLO-O-O-O! Hello-o-o-o! HeLLo-O-o-O! Hi-i-i! How-are-YA-a-a-!? HELLO-o-O-o…!”)

When Sandy played music into the Pit it came back as a carnival!
(Standing by edge, next to cute little old vinyl record player, notes drifting down from it into pit, huge notes and BOOM and CRASH, WARAW, and tickle-linkle, and BOOM-BOOM, rising out.)

If she timed the echo right, it was like she was wading through monsters.
(Sandy swatting on edge, hands cupped either side of mouth, yelling, “Raow…” Sounds coming back, with imaginary monsters: RAOW-W-W-w! GRRR-R-r-r! YEOWL-L-L-l…!)

But, mostly, she liked to talk into it, about her fears and dreams.
(Sandy lying on pit’s edge, one arm, one leg and face dangling over side. Hand is cusped to side of mouth. The letters “I feel alone sometimes, but that’s okay…” are falling from her mouth into the pit. Big letters are rising out. “…THAT’S OKAY… AT… AY!”)
And the echo was so strong, she could have sworn it talked back!

So Sandy asked the Pit questions. Then answered them when they came back.
(Sandy sitting, feet over edge, leaning back, propped up by arms. The letters of her words are rising up, and then falling down into the pit. “So, Sandy, what do you want?” Rising from the pit: SO, WHAT DO YOU WANT… ANT… NT… nt?”)

Of course, the other kids laughed. “You’re best friend is a hole in the ground!”
(Girl recoiling/startled as small group of mean school kids, lead by bully girl, laugh and point. The letters/words “To be happy, I guess…” are still falling from Sandy’s mouth, but landing in a pile on the ground next to the pit. The words of the bullies are rising out instead: “HAHAHA!” “…IS A HOLE IN THE GROUND… OUND… ound!” “LOSER… ER… ER…!” One of the gang is a small boy holding a cage with a canary in it.)

But they didn’t know about what happened when Sandy threw things in!
(Sandy, alone. We can just make out the legs of the bullies walking away/off page. She is cautiously looking over her shoulder to make sure they are gone as she is throwing a light bulb into the pit.)

And brilliant,
(Ten beautiful retro lamps of all colours and shapes are bundling up, out of the pit.)

(Sandy is dropping little daisies in. Huge, glorious stalks of green curing out into monstrous flowers are coming out.)

incredible things,
(Girl is gently releasing three or four paper planes, that are spiralling down into pit. Glorious, mini zephyrs, biplanes and Chinese kites are rising out, with various marsupials flying them. Possums and wombats, mostly.)

would pop back out!
(Girl drooping several small lizards into pit. Dragons are flying out and away.)

But Sandy didn’t want ‘things…’ The teasers were right: She wanted a friend.
“Help…” she whispered.
“Help… elp… elp… elp… elp…” her voice drifted down.
(Side on of Sandy holding onto ledge, as her top half is leaning right into pit/darkness, softly calling. The word repeats and gets smaller as it falls, until it is just tiny scribble.)

(Same image, Sandy looking down into darkness. Silence.)

“…lp…! elp… elp… ELP…HELP.” her voice bounced back.
(Same image, voice bouncing back up, getting bigger as it approaches her.)

“How…ow …ow …ow …?” Sandy said, talking with herself.
(Same image. ‘How’ falling down.)

But it was a quiet voice, a whisper, that returned…
(Sandy standing, pulling herself back/startled. The words: “I’m glad you asked… asked… sked…” Drifting up. Side of page, bullies coming back into frame, eating ice-creams.)

(Sandy on tippy toes with effort, furiously holding finger over mouth, going; “Sshhh!” Bullies eating ice-creams, laughing, bellowing; “Look at her!” “What an Idiot… iot… iot… iot…!” “SUCH a loser… er… er…!” Their words blasting out of the pit, each letter enormous.)

Why did they always have to ruin everything? Sandy fumed. There’s something down there! I was so close…!
(Sandy, sitting, sulking, while behind her, we can see bully’s hunched backs, as they are looking into the pit. The words; HAHA! and FARTHEAD and DUH! Are rising in huge, bulky letters.)

Sandy was so angry she blindly lashed out…
(Sandy, eyes closed, face red, pushing small boy with canary cage, who is falling back, with cage, into the pit. The words “JUST GO AWAY… AY… AY…!” are echoing out.)

(Boy and canary have fallen/gone from view. Everyone goggle-eyed, looking at reader. Even Sandy.)

But…! POIT!
(Boy popping back out of pit, but now he has flying goggles and cap on, cage has been twisted into glider frame, boy has and spectacular canary feathers under his arms as he flies.)
Once more, the Pit gave back!

Being Sandy’s backyard, suddenly, everybody wanted to be her friend,
(Three of the bullies smiling around Sandy, offering her their ice-creams, talking to her, etc… three more standing on edge of pit, dropping coins in as notes explode back out.)
and lined up to throw things into The Pit.

(Even more kids, laughing amongst themselves, or shouting into the pit; “Have a go!” “You wanna fight?” “Oi! I’ll have ya!” Boxing kangaroos leaping out.)

(Blue collar louts pushing wrecks in, a couple of futuristic bubble cars popping out.)

Old pets…
(Everybody watching/taking photos as main bully girl pours goldfish from a bowl into pit. Two mermaids are leaping out, arching through the air. A couple of people are under them, holding out pole nets.)

Sandy yelled, “No, no, no! Give it a rest… est … est…!”
(Sandy reaching for the pit, but few bullies holding her back, as everybody else from the neighbourhood is throwing stuff in; broken tennis rackets, old fridges, worn boots, a wooden box of apples, a startled cat…)
“What’s that?” the other kids mocked her. “Throw down your best!?”

Finally, everyone went home for the night.
(Sandy laying in the dark, by the pit’s edge. Words/letters are falling out of her mouth, onto the ground, along it, and down, into the pit, getting smaller as they go: Sigh…! I’m sorry… orry …orry …orry. All that is left around her is a toy cart with a ball in it, and the empty apple box.)

(Sandy looks startled/happy. Words coming back up, small rising to large, but not that big; That’s okay… ay… ay…)

“What happened to the bird… CANARY… CaNaRy… ary?” Sandy finally asked.
“The bird is fine. I just like fixing stuff… uff… uff,” the voice said. “Giving things back… ack… ack.”
(The canary, now six foot long and fat, is hopping out of the pit, over startled girl.)

“Well, I want to give YOU something… ing… ing… ” Sandy said. “Something we can share… air… air… That you can’t just improve and send back… ack… ack… ack.”
(Sandy pointing tut-tut finger down at the pit.)

“What… at… t…?” the voice said.
“The Milky Way!” Sandy exclaimed.
(Sandy laying beside the pit, arms behind her head, grinning, looking straight at reader/up. The words “Milky Way…” are leaving her mouth, but up into the air, with no echo.)

“It looks even better when you watch it with a friend…” she added.
(Double page image of the Milky Way.)
There was a long pause.

Sandy could have sworn, as impossible as it was, she heard the sound of a smile drift up out of the pit.
(Sandy, content smile, tired eyes almost closed, walking towards us. Behind her, a small love heart is rising from the pit.)

Sandy woke up the next day and rushed down to the Pit. But it was gone.
(Sandy from above, standing on and looking down at backyard grass, all that is left is an empty apple box on its side.)

The people of the neighbourhood were furious! They shouted and raged! “Who’s going to fix my toaster now!?” “I wanted it to turn my lava lamp into an owl!” “Somebody dig another hole! I’ll pay it good money to fix my old legs!”

One-by-one they wondered off, grumbling this and that,
(Less than half remain, all energy gone. Another is leaving, dejected.)

until all that was let was a little girl feeling glad.
(Sandy sitting on apple box, looking at grass with big smile.)


The End.


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