Kip - Chapter II
Kip was down near the edge of the river a few bends away from the main settlement. As it was a Sunday, he’d been allowed some time after going to church to go off and play by himself, Mrs W being in her chosen environment of the social elite of the parish community. Having Kip out of the way suited her to a “t” on this occasion.
Her parting whisper to him was, “Don’t keep us all waiting for you for dinner my lad, not after all the work I’ve done preparing it for you. And don’t go falling into the river and drowning in your Sunday best either.”
Kip smiled, said thank you and then took off as fast as his legs would take him as he headed toward the shore line.
For Kip, the Swan River Settlement was a wonder-filled paradise. He loved the people who’d lived here for all those centuries before he’d arrived. If his mother had known that he’d stopped to talk with them, she’d have scrubbed his skin until it bled and washed his mouth out with carbolic soap, because to her way of thinking, the black fellas were just untamed, pagan savages. But Kip liked them and they liked him too. His wide eyed innocence and the obvious happiness which he experienced in their company was irresistible to every one of them whom he’d met him so far.
But today, the sun was shining and the world was all his to experience in such splendid isolation.
Down by the river’s edge, he watched as the distance black cormorants circled and swooped for fish way out over the water. Up in the trees behind him, atop the high limestone cliffs, white cockatoo screeched at each other. Kip thought they were calling to him so he gave them a wave.
Even though he’d only lived in the area for a short period of time, he’d become aware of the patterns of nature. By the time he’d got to the shore, the early easterly breezes had settled and there was a stillness in the air, it was the lull before the afternoon sea breezes came in to keep everyone and everywhere, cool.
The vast waters of the river stretched off for a mile in every direction, it’s still waters reflecting the pale blue of the endless sky above. He watched as more water fowl seemed to be circling way out over the water.
“Fish” he whispered to himself. He watched as the birds seemed to be having a feast out there as well as having a lot of fun. Kip spread his arms and pretended he was flying with them as he ran along the narrow sand strip. When he stopped, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a flat stone. “Time for some serious skimming” he said to himself with a smile.
“Catch this if you can Mr Fish” he shouted at the top of his voice and sent the stone skimming across the surface. He watched as it hit the water and disappear in the bullseye of ripples.
His eyes opened wide with amazement as the stone came flying back at him, landing safely on the beach at his feet. “Wow, what was that” he whistled.
The grin which dawned on his face would have soften the soul of the devil himself. Bending down again, he picked up the same stone and tossed it. Once more, in the second after it had disappeared, it arch up into the air and landed at his feet.
“Amazing” he said out loud, and picking it up once more shouted, “see if you can get this one.”
This time he made the stone bounce high into the sky yet on this occasion, the stone didn’t reach the water. As it was falling towards the surface, a glistening dolphin shot out of the water and caught it in its beak before flipping over and landing on its back creating a huge splash. Kip roared with delight and did a little jig on the beach.
“Wow, that’s amazing” he said again.
“It’s nothing really” said a clickedy voice which came from just beyond the waters edge. A dolphin’s bulbous head, with an infectious grin on its happy face was looking at him. “On the count of three, throw it as high in the air as you can and I’ll see if I can catch it.” With that he spat the stone out onto the sand near Kip’s feet. The boy was as happy as he’d ever been in his short, but frequently troubled life.
“One, Two ...” the dolphin disappeared, “THREE” Kip shouted and threw the pebble as high as his arm could make it go. As it arced down, the dolphin pierced the silken skin of the lake and the sunlight glistened off it’s beautiful body as it caught the stone once more. As the dolphin fell back into the water Kip saw white scars along it’s flank and his happiness was blemished for an instant.
In as long as it took to wonder if it’d come back to him, the dolphin popped his head above the water once again.
“That was fun” he said. “What’s your name boy?”
“Kipling, but everyone calls me Kip.”
The dolphin began to click and wave his head around. To Kips mind, if he didn’t know any better, he thought that the animal was laughing.
“That’s a funny” his new friend said, “because that’s like my name. It’s Kwilena really, but most of my friends call me Kwile. Kwile and Kip, it sounds good doesn’t it? Well, I must be off. Great to meet you Kip, if you ever need me, you just skim one of your stones and call out my name and I’ll come to you as soon as I can. Bye.” With an almost inaudible ‘plop’, his head disappeared below the surface.
The illusion of the ensuing moments suggested that he might never have existed except in Kips imagination. For most of us the line between illusion and reality is gossamer thin, yet it’s as impenetrable as steel. For Kip though, that barrier that had yet to be erected.
He stood there with his hands on his hips and a fixed smile on his face. The sea breeze arrived stirring the water and Kips fringe of strawberry hair. “Wow” he said, “just wait till I tell Mum and Dad about this.”
But he never did. Kip may have been the biggest dreamer in the whole of the colony, and some might say the biggest dreamer in the whole of that vast country, but even he knew that no one - not even his dear old Dad, would ever believe his story. That was, until he met Maali.