As usual, Lagos was in a hurry. Most leverets are. It’s in their nature. Today though, Lagos had purpose in her hurry, the spring had been a tough one. Cold and wet. The kind of cold and wet that chilled Lagos to the bone. That insidious, creeping cold that slowly takes hold and then hangs onto you like a jack russel to the postman’s trouser bottom.
And she was hungry. Very, very hungry. Fresh new shoots weren’t popping their tender succulent heads above the safety of the earth near her form, and she had heard on the wind that there were new shoots applenty over the round hill, so she followed the direction that the wind had come from. Loping and weaving with the odd sideways leap. Hope in her heart and a gnawing in her belly.
The dawning light revealed low lying fronds of mist that swirled and parted as Lagos ducked and weaved her way across the marshy field. It spooked her a wee bit to the extent that she nearly flipped over backwards in fright when a disembodied voice called her seemingly from nowhere. ‘Lagos. Hey!’
Lagos flattened her belly to the ground, her ears laying hard against her shoulders and eyes wide and prominent.
‘Lagos, over here – in the sycamore’. As Lagos looked up Ulula drifted down from the tree on silent spread white wings (which looked very effective against the mist which whisped away from her as she approached the ground), and landed with a thunk in front of Lagos.
Lagos let go of her breath and relaxed as Ulula drew herself tall and pushed out her chest with that faraway look in her eyes.
Oh lordy, lordy thought Lagos, here she goes again with her pronouncin’ and prophesyin’ and atellin’ me what’s afoot.
A stream of words fell from Ulula’s beak and landed in the centre Lagos’s forehead – just above her eyes.
‘The wind is fickle and mischevious, and utters untruths to the young and daft. Beyond yon round hill is naught but gray mazes. Grey, unyielding mazes like stone but not stone. Within the mazes are fearsome creatures with shopping bags and pom pom hats. Danger. Great danger’.
Ulula shook her head, and rotated it widdershins and back again – her eyes bright and focussed again. She looked at Lagos in a confused fashion before turning and flying back up to her sycamore to sleep off the exhaustion of oracular prophesy.
Lagos wasn’t phased. She was a leveret on a mission. A mission to fill her belly and stave off that miserable dank cold in her bones. And anyway, running leveret fashion was fun. It felt good. She carried on covering ground at speed (not always necessarily in the ‘right’ direction, but speedily anyway). She had a mission she had committed to and nothing, but nothing was going to put her off it.
The sky was almost light now – that place in the morning where promise is. The sky wasn’t as gray as it had been over the past few weeks, granted it was a bit watery looking, and myriads of small shower boding clouds scudded on the fickle wind, but there was blue. A sight for sore eyes.
Lagos’ spirit soared. She felt good. She felt anticipation and a lifting of the heavy drudge of misery of the past few cold weeks.
She ran, and leapt, and leapt and ran long loping and streamlined and the round hill was in sight and she ran up the slopy slope of the round hill and she neared the top and the anticipation was building and she was getting oh. so. out. of. breath. and at last she reached the gently domed crest of the round green mossy hill and sat panting upon a large flat boulder and sat up tall on her hind quarters and sniffed the wind and looked around and she saw
A grey maze.
A gray maze that had been deserted by the fearsome shopping bag pom pom hat creatures. It stood crumbling and overgrown with ivy and the barren sticks of buddleia that promise purple pointed clusters in the warmer days ahead.
Rusted carcasses of cars littered with dried grasses and last years leaves with elder growing cheekily out of the gaping maws of long lost windscreens and quarter lights.
As she looked in wonder, that place on her forehead began to flicker and shining ethereal visions slid across the silver screen of her mind – bent wrought irol fences, huge gates hanging at precarious, swinging angles from their once sturdy hinges. A ramshackle bandstand and the remains of a pond, mildewed swan shaped boats lying on their side half submerged in brown sludgy murk amidst a tangle of last year’s bulrushes
AND FRESH GREEN SHOOTS
Fresh green shoots beneath the birches by the lake. A carpet of them. Enough to fill her belly for weeks to come – sheltered by dessicated red brick walls that shed their crumbs on frosty mornings, split and cracked but still shelering.
A bright shining map emerged, with a route perfect for a ‘this way, that way, forwards and back’ young leveret, and she allowed this map to sink to her heart for safekeeping before the flickering stopped and the uncaught visions faded and were lost.
Lagos sighed and smiled deep down into her soul, allowed the weak April sun to caress her back, and headed towards the broken gray maze with a calm self assurance that wasn’t evident in her Leveretish trajectory as she followed the map that she had stored away in her heart…