The Tournesols of Solsequium
Story 1. Strawberry Tea.
The day Pappy T’sol fell into a strawberry there was a huge party.
It was true, though, and from what I heard, the bandy-legged, warty, bad-tempered curmudgeon Pappy T’sol, was lucky to be alive. Mind you, the ancient old grump didn’t appreciate getting well and truly stuck, and was as mad as a hornet when they came to get him out.
If I’d said Pappy Tournesol had trod on a strawberry, you wouldn’t have paid any attention, but to have him land splat in one, now that’s different, isn’t it?
Oh, did I not say?
The Tournesols are wee folk; the men are skinny and thin, their women roly-poly and much shorter, but not one of them was ever taller than fifteen inches, and most thought themselves lucky to make it to twelve!
Pappy T had a long, long way to fall; and small as he was, he was going like a bullet when he collided with that berry. It was as well he didn’t go into it head first, but eighty years living on the big Sols and working the high cables and ropes had made him a wily bird, and at the last second he flipped over and dropped straight as an arrow into the soft, sweet mush right up to his neck.
Wasn’t he lucky? The berries to the right and left were still pea green, and if he’d landed there, the outcome of this story would have been a wake, not a party!
Quiet now, this is how it went.
Pappy T’s No. 1 crew, working on one of the really big Sols, were preparing to winch a batch of sunflower seeds down into storage, when an unexpected gust of wind caught old T’sol fair and square and sent him flying over the edge of the Sol head he was standing on. Falling off somewhere wasn’t so unusual an occurrence in these high and dangerous places, but when Pappy’s safety harness broke and slipped off, the small unfortunate incident quickly turned into a major catastrophe.
Eeeeeeee! The men watched in horror as old T’sol, yelling and hollering, arms and legs twisting this way and that, plummeted downwards, but there was a sigh of relief, when they saw him pull himself together and execute a perfect swan dive, till he faded from view, camouflaged by the shadings of the foliage below.
Pappy’s eldest, Sparky, off his mark in a hurry, had just enough time to warn the crew below, waiting patiently to manhandle the big seeds, about Pappy’s imminent arrival, which, considering the situation, wasn’t going to be particularly pretty.
“Ooooout of the way,” he roared into a speaker tube, “Pappy’s comin’ down the hard way, organise a recovery party!”
“Message received!” Work stopped instantly, scared eyes squinted up into the bright dappled light, trying to catch sight of T’sol senior as he zipped on by. Hearts stopped as they listened for the thump when he hit the ground, but surprise, surprise, there was silence, Old T’sol never made it to zero,
Didn’t I tell you? Well, I will now!