The morning began like any other holiday with Lizzie and her four friends deciding on a pooh bear picnic in Taranaki National Park.
She packed the blue and white checked table cloth and her two teddy bears. Robin brought the guitar (a pooh bear picnic was nothing without a few folk songs) and Frances bought the pots of ‘hunny’ for them to lick at as Peter read from AA Milne’s famous volume. Frances laid out the picnic she had packed into a hamper. Peter poured sauvignon blanc into plastic wine glasses and they offered a toast, “to the bear of very little brain.”
They bowed their heads in contemplation while Peter read a chapter. His slightly mocking voice drifted over them and they smiled as they imagined pooh sticks floating down a stream. Lizzie plaited a section of her shoulder length hair then left it to unravel as Peter announced, “the end.”
“There you go, rabbit philosophy for today - never let things come to you. “ He closed the book. “Go and fetch them,” he added.
The sounds of rustling leaves and the nearby teasing stream lilted over them.
Lizzie said, “I always go and fetch things.”
“Same here,” the others echoed as they lay back to watch wispy clouds play on a blue eiderdown.
“And now for a lick of honey,” Frances said offering the pot around. The sun flashed off her red curls.
Three of them lifted themselves onto their elbows, dipped their index fingers in the pottery pot and sucked on them. Around them the tips of native trees pricked into the sky and their branches touched to form a circle around the friends.
In the background, Robin played quiet folk songs and the friends joined in. Birds shuffled from perch to perch. A tui trilled, quick notes at the top of the scale then deep throaty warbling before adding a few short quick notes in the middle. Silence. A shuffle as it jumped to another branch. Then came the song again.
Robin stopped playing and the friends peered through the branches.
“There he is,” Lizzie whispered, pointing.
Their eyes fell upon the bird, standing regally on a Kahikatea tree. As if aware it had an audience it started to sing again. The notes lifted with its bobbing tuft of white at its neck then fell against blue-black shining feathers. With a flutter it flew through the trees.
Stretching his long arms Robin stood and stretched. His green velvet jacket lifted to expose a tanned midriff.
“I’m going for a walk. Anyone want to come?”
His blue eyes played over the group. They paused on Lizzie and his lazy smile issued an invitation. She nodded. As she stood, her patchwork skirt flowed in flaring color around her.
As they walked away Frances picked up the book and as she bit her trembling lip she ran her finger along its edges. She shivered as a grey cloud floated across the sun….
Author: Suraya Dewing (NZ)