By Ivan Southall Illustrations by Edward Greenwood
If Rodney's brothers had understood how disoriented and lonely he felt, perhaps they would have behaved differently. Or maybe not. He had always been a little strange. When leaving school the other kids did not realize that I was following them, something delayed, waiting to be invited to play.
For Rodney everything was difficult since Andrew was not there. Andrew's house had always been there, always by the side. And now, suddenly, was not. There was only a vacant lot with tangled brambles, tall eucalyptus and ferns.
"Be careful with the snakes," her mother told her., you shouldn't play there.
Sometimes, almost forgetting that things had changed, sat outside, muttering: “Andrew has to be here. Please.” But Andrew was not, could not be, because Andrew still lived where he always lived, in the city, thirty miles from there. It was Rodney who had moved house.
Now there was no house next door, just one across the road. A large house with an impressive room with large glass windows that per-
they mitigated glimpse, even though Rodney had never looked out; and a large sloping meadow ideal for wallowing, even though Rodney had never wallowed in it; and a long curved road to descend vertiginously with the bikes, though Rodney still hadn't slipped through it. Patricia lived there.
Patricia was ten years old, which made her a little old for a guy like Rodney who was eight. But Rodney didn't care. She wore red to go to school and that's why it showed when she came back.
On the bus, of course, He never sat close to her - this would not have gone well., but he stood behind, with the boys. Sitting in front and turning to speak would not have worked either.. They would have laughed at him. Eight-year-olds don't talk to girls.
At school, boys and girls sit at different desks; the boys have a playing field, the other girls, and even different sheds to protect yourself from the rain. After, when the bus took them home, she would go up the hill and disappear.
One of these days Rodney was going to say: “Hello, Patricia. You know me, ¿no?” One of these days I would tell him, and whoever laughed at him would get punched in the nose.
I would go up the hill, I'd knock on the door and say: “Do you go out to play? If you let me roll on your lawn, you can ride my bike. How about?” This is what I would tell you if you could start talking.
Good, in a way I had already tried once OR twice. Actually almost once a day. With a determined step he went from the house, in the valley, towards the store that was on the road, but then hesitated as always leaning somewhere, standing up, circling the bike or counting the cars that passed until her mother poked her head out the door of the store.
—Rodney, dont have other thing that does? Is it that your brothers have gone and left you again? Run home to find a book to read. Is not going well? So, Why don't you ask Patricia to play with you ?
—¡Oh no! You are always the same. I am not effeminate. Play with a girl! What have you believed?
So, returning home to kick a ball or eat an apple or throw cherries at the magpies; or else he would raise the curtain and lean on the windowsill and watch. From there I could go looking at the glass room. Sometimes the pointed piece of the roof where the panes met the eaves made it look imposing like a church. Maybe it was; you never know. Perhaps they asked God to forgive them for being so sinful, which for Rodney was a very strange thing on the part of adults since he had never seen any of them stick out their tongues or pull their pigtails or play in the mud in their Sunday clothes.
Other times, Early in the morning, sunlight glinted off the panes and the room seemed stranger still, as if it were a star that had fallen to the ground while he slept. At night, when the lights came on, before the curtains came down, it was beautiful, very beautiful. It was like a palace in the sky, as if inside the floors were marble and the door handles were gold, as if Patricia didn't eat her dinner like any normal person, but have dinner out of sight at a very long table while tigers, leopards and spotted dogs prowled around him, purring.
It was terrible not being able to see everything that was happening in there.
Even when he went up to the roof of his house he could not see anything. And if I climbed a pine, He couldn't see much more because the magpies were up there and they wouldn't let him climb very high. Those old magpies had a nest up there and their beaks were like knives. Snap, snap They squawked an inch from Rodney's hair..
—Marchaos, old magpies. Disappear, old magpies. My father bought this tree - he yelled at them. But it was always Rodney who had to run down—. I'm going to eat you, old magpies. I'm going to roast you in the oven if you don't behave. And so, What will become of you?
He had seen the glass room the same day he had arrived there, weeks ago, a long time ago, long before the summer heat began and the cicadas had begun to sing. Then i had seen her.
—¡Eh! Look at this! A glass room. Do they grow orchids in there? He said to his friends.
But he was the smallest and no one heard him. No one ever heard him. It was like talking to people without ears. They were unloading the car and saying “¡Oooh!”, and “Is not it wonderful?” and “It will be great to live here” and things like that. When they came through the mountains, following the moving truck, his father had said laughing: —Take a look. This is a place to live! What had i told you?
And mom answered every moment: -Yes, Dear; yes, Dear. But please! look at the road.
They all talked like they were crazy.
"Are we really going to live here? Said one.
"This is what your father said. Now we are shopkeepers. There is. Down there. Our store — Mom answered..
—Oye, mother, Are we going to sell candy, ice creams, apples and all that?
-Mom, What is that smoke? Is that a bush fire?
-Look, mother. Is it a real lake or a reservoir?
—¡Arrea! Look at the horses, mother. A park with horse races.
Rodney, half drowned among his brothers, compressed in the middle of all, I was too small to see anything. I only saw heads and backs, big as barrels.
-What lake? What horses? What fire? What do you see?
They hadn't heard it this time either. When he grew up he would be a giant and would stand in front of others so as not to let them see anything.
"There are good boys at school, Dear? Have you made many friends? You are a lucky boy. Christmas holidays are very close. We will have many things to do. We are a lucky family, Don't you think? Living here is fortunate - his mother repeated like a song..
But mama was too busy now, being a shopkeeper, smiling all the time and hardly ever being at home to have a snack after school.
There was no postman to come with the whistle.
Dad was now the postmaster, behind a fence, in the shop, like a face in a cage. No newsboy kid came down the street yelling as he pedaled his bike. Mama had the newspapers lined up on the counter. There was also no baker who could take him in the van to the end of the road. Mom also sold bread. The bustle did not come there. There was only stillness. So that sometimes I could hear Patricia, across the street, talking to someone he couldn't see. Once he even heard the voice of Patricia's dad, what did he say: -Leave those taps. I'm taking a shower. Do you want to boil me raw?
Imagine it. Inside the house, under the shower and you could still hear them. Was it possible that they could hear him? He would have been displeased if Patricia knew that he sometimes cried and got angry, and that twice they had sent him to bed for screaming.
-Hello, Patricia, I would tell him.; when I have rolled in your lawn, Can I take a look at the glass room? Hey patricia, What do you have there? Do you have fish? ¿The cats? Do you have dinner there? Do you kneel in there and pray? Is that a pool?
The same thing happened in Sunday school. He sat in her class and she in hers, and when they came home — almost a mile away — she was always walking on the other side of the road accompanied by little girls.
-.Yeme, Jesus, he said., Are you so busy with other people that you can't spend a minute with me? How about sending a lion, let him roar and jump, so that I can rescue her?
When she went down to the store to buy things for
his mother, he sat near the red mailbox waiting for
she would go out again. After, I watched her go through
road, up hill, until he closed the door of his house.
And when I was inside, Patricia looked through the glass, still carrying purchases in hand, and sighed. “He is a good kid. I would like to be able to ask him if I can play with him. In that store there had never been anyone to play. It would be great to play on that flat ground over there. But rp I think you like me. When I look at him he always looks away.”
-What's wrong, Honey?
"You were talking to yourself again?
So that, she would put down the shopping cart and after a while she would sit on the carpet, in the glass room, and read a book or drew or dreamed. Sometimes I would look up and see that little boy spinning his bike or kicking a ball, but he couldn't see her and he probably didn't care. That was a room to look outside, made especially for it.
what a beautiful story. The story explores a kind of analogy with the world of children in terms of showing their prejudices and fears in their own relationships. In the end, the glass room is a key metaphor since it allows us to observe the outside but not show the inside. Between the two protagonists who come to like and see each other, they never get to guess what the other person feels. Still it ends up being a potential friendship. Thanks for the story
I grew up reading “The children's World”. I love these stories even as an adult. Reading these stories transports me. Excellent content!