Alfred

Winner of The Mystery Competition WINNER Year 4-6 organised by WRITE ON – The School for Young Writers

Fiction, Mystery, Young Writer, Short Story, Suitable for Young Readers
Lilah Hughes | The commuting Book
Lilah Hughes

Sep 22   ●  4 min read

Nobody knew who he was. Or where he came from. Only that he lived on the traffic island in the middle of the intersection and had one arm. When he first appeared, the people gathered at the town hall to discuss what to do with him. There were many arguments until the mayor came to the stage and said simply, “He shall stay, as he is one of us.”

Over time, the people got used to him. I agreed with the mayor, but then was hurt when no one came to help the man. But he looked happy enough, so I left him be, waiting for the right moment to ask him about his story. So when I heard someone had been hit by a car at the intersection, I went to see, but got there just in time to see the man being carried by stretcher into an ambulance.

I rushed home, scribbled a note for Mum, grabbed a jacket and hurried out the door. When I got to the hospital reception I asked, “Did a one-armed man come here?” The lady behind the counter retorted, “Are you a family member?” I hesitated, “Well … no, but—” She snapped, “Well, if you’re not, then leave.” Then she attended someone else.

A few days later, I went to the intersection … he was there! All the same, apart from a cast on his left leg. I hurried across the road and said, “Excuse me, can I talk to you?” The man turned around and said, “Of course! Sit down.” So I did. Then I said, “I have so many questions! Why do you have one arm? Why are you here? Who are you, really? Where are you from? Why are you homeless?” The man replied, “I’ll tell you my story and answer your questions.”

“When I was a boy, I was so adventurous that one day I jumped over the fence of my house and went into the woods beyond it. But naturally, I got lost. For days I lived on berries and stream water until the military found me. They took me in as a helper and when I was seventeen I was sent on small missions. Then they sent me to war, and my arm got blasted by shrapnel. When I finally left the military, I had no money, only a paper bag of food and a flask of water. So I traveled all over the country before I found this place. So here I am.” Then the man checked his rusty, battered watch and exclaimed, “You must go off to school, dear!”

So I got up and started to walk away, then remembered and asked, “What’s your name, anyway?”

The man replied, “Call me Alfred.”

So, I did.

 

Originally published in Write On – Issue #52
Winner of The Mystery Competition WINNER Year 4-6 organised by WRITE ON – The School for Young Writers

 

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