Where we stand

Atop the ridge

The fishing boats in the village below swoon. At rest, for now. Their bright flags stand taut, and ready. 

The boy begins to climb.

He expertly navigates the swarm of boulders piled hundreds deep. Barefoot, agile, he ascends to greet. He’s done this before.

Clearly, so too have his friends.

Word is out that he’s heading up. And in the truest nature of unspoken agreements between children, naturally, so must they.

Two more, then five, then another group of three, and on. They make their way to the top of the ridge to investigate and assess the interlopers.

A standoff with what must be twenty sets of smiling eyes, steadily emerging from behind the stones. Most, under the age of seven, their curious stares not unfamiliar.

But he’s clearly the leader. Tallest and therefore most important, he is the first to speak.


he offers with a smile.

Hi, how are you?

A nod. And you too?

One of the younger girls, no more than four, shouts with a smile


He scolds, warning her to be polite. We have business.

Please. A ball.

Say again?

Can you give us money for a ball?

You need a ball?

We need a ball. Look there! We have a pitch but no ball.

What happened to your ball?


And so I remember that where we stand is often an uneasy place. Living where we live, coming from where we do. When we talk, we speak to each other of needs, when what we’re really talking about are wants, comforts, pleasures, distractions.

Where they stand, these children are problem solvers, behaving with perfect logic in how they’ve seen the world. And how the world has seen them.

They spend their days near the sea, in a school just meters from the water. They have the beach, shelter, friendship.

And today, all they really need is a ball.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. There are so many messages in your piece. One of them is the perspectives and messages that have been portrayed and the one we observe. When you are present you see the reality. I enjoyed reading this slice especially your description of what some of what you saw, such as the “twenty sets of smiling eyes.”


  2. Beautiful portrait of these children. I enjoyed reading the way you used line breaks to accent your writing. My favorite part is, “behaving with perfect logic in how they’ve seen the world. And how the world has seen them.” The last line frames it so well.


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