The day was crisp, like an apple. It was one of those October days that starts in a chilly grey, flat light, but then breaks up into a changing world of broken cloud and bits of blue sky.
Not just a changing sky, but a changeling sky. It was a world made by the fairies, to bewitch and entice the curious.
Steve and Ruby looked at the day and the copper trees, and decided it was time for a brisk walk to the far reaches of the valley, where the river tumbled from the moor.
They didn’t make jam sandwiches, nor did they take a generous slab of fruit cake. Not even a miserly slab.
Foolishly, they decided to go without provisions, unencumbered by penknives or fishing lines with bent pin hooks.
This would be an alpine-style dash to the waterfall, without ropes or Sherpas.
Not without difficulty, they got the scooter out of the porch. Reversing down the newly-bought aluminium ramp, Steve managed to topple the whole thing over, and he and the scooter sprawled in the geraniums. Ruby barked with happiness, and licked Steve’s face to make sure he was conscious, which is one of those things that a dog does that is, at the same time, both useful and incredibly irritating.
Oh, how they all laughed and rolled around in the grass!
When the laughter had stopped, they righted the blue scooter, and set off cheerfully. Steve imagined himself on a horse, as he trundled through the nature reserve at Tunnel End, and Ruby imagined herself winning her class at Crufts, the class being the Filthy Dog category.
It was nice to take life easy and to hear the river contentedly chatter to itself. The robins sang, the pipits flew, and the brown grass rustled. All was right with the world.
Suddenly, everything stopped.
What a disaster, and what an amazing word . . . Sudden, all of a sudden, suddenly. It is the plot driver of the teenage story. But what, exactly, is a ‘Sudden’?
It is a surprise, followed by the realisation of “Oh no, the power’s run out. What do I do now?”
It happened, of course,, about as far away as it could possibly be from home. An electric scooter without electricity is utterly useless. Worse than this, it is a liability.
It is the definition of uselessness, the apogee of irrelevance.
Then Steve had an idea, though Ruby had no idea that an idea was needed. In Steve’s bag was a mobile phone, and, amazingly, it, unlike the scooter, was fully charged.
With the help of a phone call to a friend in the village with a red car, and the muscle power of an unsuspecting elderly couple walking by, the dead scooter was bundled into the back of the car, Steve was placed in the passenger seat, with strict instructions to keep out of the way, and Ruby was installed on the floor at his feet, happily barking at this piece of off-script improvisation, the car bounced back to the village, and the Terrible Two were placed in custody in the kitchen.
“Oh well,” happily mumbled Steve, when Elisabeth brought him lashings of tea and local organic honey, “That was an adventure, and no mistake. Next time I’ll check the battery . . . if I’m ever allowed out on my own again!”
Elisabeth smiled indulgently, and wrapped a survival blanket round him.
“Wuff,” said Ruby, and she wagged her tail.