Johann and a stranger
by Hinda Rosen
As soon as the bell went Johann grabbed his lunch box. Once inside the shelter shed, he opened it. His dad gave him a sandwich. Great– just what he wanted! He peered between the slices of rye bread and saw two chunks of yellow cheese, his favourite. He placed the box on the bench alongside his school satchel, leant back, bit and chewed. The sandwich was yum. Although he left a half of the bench empty no other child entered the shelter shed. Johann sighed. He’d have liked to eat his lunch with one of the other children out in the playground.
Just after the second bite Johann noticed something out of the corner of his eye. A minute movement that was almost unnoticeable. He stopped chewing and glanced down. No, nothing there. Nothing to leave a cheese sandwich for anyway. Yet he felt something move among the green grass stalks. He saw a colour he wasn’t used to. Something bright he didn’t normally see at school. He was still wondering if it he saw something that wasn’t there when the grass stalks shifted, and a tiny, brown head appeared. The brightness was a yellow stripe running across the head from right to left. Johann held his breath until he was ready to burst and when he let go, he did it as slowly as he could. Between puffs out he looked hard and saw clearly a pair of shiny, pop eyes, an upturned, black line of a mouth and where he imagined its ears to be, a couple of antennae quivering wildly.
Good thing I’ve put my glasses on this morning, he thought.
A round, pudgy neck with bright, yellow markings emerged from under the bench next. Johann shifted his left runner away from the grass. He knew that the best way to tell what creature was, was to count its legs. He bent down and began to count. His mind on: ‘Insects of Australia. An illustrated encyclopaedia,’ nanna Haya had given him for his birthday. He had looked at all the coloured illustrations four times-but he had only had time to read one or two pages of writing. What could it be? He asked himself, I hope it’s not a spider.
All was quiet for a moment then there was another tiny movement in the clump of grass. More of the brown body with yellow markings and two more legs appeared. Then the creature stood still, antennae quivering.
Johann grinned. A yellow upside-down violin on a shiny, brown back meant only one thing and when he saw the last pair of legs, he was sure. He was looking at a Fiddler Beetle.
‘You’re not alone,’ he whispered to the beetle. ‘I’m glad I’m here with you and not in the playground with the rest of the class.’ This wasn’t true but saying it made him feel better.