Bonus 11: If… II

If… II
by
Matt Zurbo

 
One day, Bobby found the strangest thing at his door. (Two giant letters had been left there. An I, an F.)

If.

He walked around (with the letters under his arm), not sure what to do with the word…

If I had a billycart… he thought. I’d race wombats through paddocks.
If could fly…
If I let my imagination loose in class…
If I rowed out to sea, with my IF, in a boat, what amazing things might I see?
Mermaids, mermen, giant octopuses… What things might see me?
If I stomped and crashed and growled, what would others think?

That night Bobby lay in bed, thinking.  
If I ran that marathon. If aliens landed. If I could hear the world’s smallest sound. If I could hear ghosts talk. If someone needed saving. If voodoo was real…

If, if, if…

The next day Bobby woke up and thought… What if I was an astronaut?
Just like that. (He pictured himself in his space suit, getting on the bus to school, his letters, I and F, tucked under his arm.)

Other people had found letters, too! Other kids!
(Words like – happy, sad, cool, dog, clever, stormy.)

Sally had Bobby’s favourite word. F. R. E. E.
Free.

(She held it on pieces of string, each letter floating above her, like balloons.)
If you hung out with m…” Bobby started to ask, but Sally drifted away.

Everybody else’s letters only said one thing. They were ‘glad’, or ‘smart’, or ‘happy’ or ‘tall’.
But Bobby’s word… It could be scary.
If I ruled the world…
If I cried for no reason at all…
If people cheered when I fell…

It could be amazing, in big ways and small…
If trees rebelled…
If every roof was a vegetable garden…
If giants were real…
If I could walk through the Dreamtime…
If the sun never set…

If I could tell jokes…
(He imagined standing on his I and F in class, making kids laugh.)

If I could make Dad less sad…

If he worked hard, Bobby could do anything with his letters!
That was a lot of pressure!
It made him lonely.

Then, the next morning, he saw Wanda. (She was dragging her letters. W and E.)
WE.

Bobby and Wanda decided to team up.
If we became fishermen…
If we made our own drive-in…
If we discovered monsters were real… and liked to dance!
If we saw shark fins swimming down the street…
If we fell in love…

Sometimes they even invited friends over to play…
Louie had four letters. (W and H and A and T.)
What.

What if we formed a band?
What if we were magicians… who did magic tricks with people emotions? Cut them in half, make them disappear?
What if we could pull moods from a hat… and wear them like coats?
What if we tried to save the planet?

Scientist approached Bobby with their ideas,
as did politicians,
poets, writers,
dreamers…
(They came with words like “Save” and “Help” and “Need” One person simply had a large question mark.)

But, mostly, it was just Bobby and Wanda, inventing stuff, having fun…
“There’s so much you can add to our letters,” Bobby sighed.
“Anything,” Wanda agreed.

Now and then, Bobby still liked to mess with his letters on his own…
If I could find a way…
If I built…
If lightening struck over there…

If I fell for no reason at all…

If, if, if…

He would just hang out and play around with two letters that formed the simplest, most beautiful word of all…

Then, a month or so later, Bobby (was walking out the door with his “I” and his “f” and) bumped into Vince. Vince had NO sense of humour! Vince had no imagination. He did, though, have four letters of his own. S and T and O and P
Stop.

Bobby didn’t like that. He ran to Wanda.

If I was chased by…” he started to say, then letters dropped from the sky.

S
fell in front of them.

T fell behind.
O fell to the left.
P fell to the right.

Stop it…
Stop now…
Stop having fun…
Stop being a team…
Stop being clever with your words.
Stop, stop, stop…

If we made a run for it…!” said Wanda, and she and Bobby (leapt over the T and the O and) made to sprint down the street, only to bump into Julie Scree.

Julie (was big and mean and) had decided she could play this game, too. No letters had come to her, so she had cut down a tree and carved the letters DON’T!
D and O and N and T

Don’t play with letters…
Don’t hang out…
Don’t find joy…
Don’t find wonder…
Don’t use words to explore…
Don’t, don’t, don’t…

Wanda had had enough! She LIKED hanging out with Bobby, she LIKED exploring and having fun with him, and, yes, maybe even falling in LOVE!
We HAVE to get out of here! she thought.
We can’t let them drag us down!
We have to be free…
We can’t let Vince and Julie STOP us…

“Yes,” smirked Vince. “That’s my word; STOP!

Wanda felt her world collapsing. Her word was so beautiful, so positive. WE. But now she was using Vince’s word! Gah, no!
What if… Vince got between her and Bobby?
What if… she and Vince hung out?
What if… her new words were; WE STOP?
What if… Julie joined her and Bobby?
What if… they formed the words; IF WE DON’T?

That was just too much! She made to run, but Julie’s letters fell, boom, boom, boom, boom, in front of her!
D,O.N.T!
And Vince ran from behind.

S.T.O.P!
And Bobby thought; What if I trip him…? So he did.

(Vince fell flat on his face, his letters sailing through the air, forming the word
POTS, then,
TOPS, then,
POST, before bowling over Bobby and Wanda, who crashed into Julie Scree.)

Everything hurt. Bobby was the first to dust himself off. When he looked around all their letters had merged.
STOP, WE, DON’T and IF had formed something new.

Maybe this will be a fresh start, Bobby thought, fascinated about where life might take him with his exiting new words.

(He read the letters where they had fallen.)
“NOT WIPED SOFT?” he said. “That makes no sense!”
(So, quickly, he arranged them again, just as Wanda was coming to her senses.)
“FIND TWO POETS?” she read. “Where’s my WE?”
“In there…” Bobby panicked, (pointing to the letters as he moved them about once more).
“TOWN TOP IS FED?” squawked Vince, still rolled on his head.     
“END FITS POT, OW!?” raged Julie, and both her and Vince scrambled to get their letters back.
They fought each other so much, they ended up with each other’s words. (Vince with DON’T and Julie with STOP. Both of them standing behind Bobby and Wanda, exhausted, sucking in air.)

Before anybody could moan or complain or use their words for meanness, or as weapons, Wanda read them out in the order everybody was standing.
“IF WE DON”T STOP…”

There was a pause, while all three of them took in what Wanda had just said.
IF
WE
DON’T
STOP…

“…we could build mountains!” Bobby said.

“Empires…” Wanda agreed.

If we don’t stop… we could find enough people with letters to write a poem,
form a book,
shape a love letter…
(Bobby and Wanda gave each other a nervous look.)

“IF WE DON’T STOP, there’ll be no-one who could stop us…” Julie admitted.
“We’ll be invincible…” Vince agreed.

Bobby was having a ball! He knew that words could be used for good and for bad. It was up to him, it was up to THEM! He had to lead from the front.

IF WE DON’T STOP
We will think of four times the ideas we could on our own…

If we don’t stop… the sky’s the limit…
We’ll explore space…
Become famous musicians…
Inspire generations…

“If we don’t stop,” Bobby smiled. “We’ll be friends for life…”

 

 

The End

 

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