A bell rang mid-day, much like a siren, evacuating several tiny tots from caged classrooms and into the playground.
A thin boy made his way to the sand pit. His hands still in his pockets, he poked his head around. A scrawny little girl with sand all in her curly hair was making a sand castle in the corner. He said hello.
The next day the thin boy ran to the sand pit the minute he heard a bell. He saw the sandy girl there again and next to her sat a great giant, the biggest of all the little kids. He was surrounded by bright red wrappers, licking his sticky fingers as the sandy girl asked him if he ever ate lunch. A boy in shorts tip-toed up to the fat boy and tickled him from the back. The sandy girl laughed and then they all laughed. The thin boy wanted to be part of this sand pit gang and so he did.
One day the sand pit gang were making the biggest castle ever. Sandy girl and thin boy were cupping sand into small stolen flower pots, while fat boy and shorts boy were thinning sand with rocks. They weren’t doing a very good job. A tall big kid approached the sand pit. The four stopped what they were doing. The tall big kid said his name was Simon and told the sandy girl that she should tie her hair up so that she doesn’t get sand in it. The four looked at Simon very differently than the way they looked at one another. The thin boy asked Simon if he would be their leader. Simon giggled and then said okay.
For a few days Simon didn’t show, but one day he did. He began talking to the four kids. He helped them build sand castles. He made them laugh and showed them how to climb trees. The thin boy wanted to call him ‘brother’ even though he had one at home. But one day Simon was gone and for some time he took a lot of the sand pit gang’s happiness along with him. The gang was a tad bit smaller now. Everyone felt bad.
One sunny recess, three shadows were cast over the sand pit. Eight eyes stared at the dark trio. They were tall; tall big kids like Simon. But not as tall. “We want the sand pit” they said. And so they did. The sand pit gang now had three new leaders. But they weren’t nice at all. They made a bad difference.
There was one day when they told Sandy that she couldn’t wear pig tails anymore. She said that Simon told her to tie her hair that way. They couldn’t care less. The three shadows told her she could tie her hair or let it down but NO pigtails. Another cloudy day, they told Shorts that he had to start wearing shorts again. He argued that after seeing Simon wear pants, he threw out all his shorts and started wearing pants to school every day. They couldn’t care less. They said Shorts could come in his underwear if he wished but NO pants. Things were becoming worse. They told Fat Boy to stop eating candy because it made him fat. He snivelled and said “but Simon-”. One shadow lifted up his hand, interrupting Fat Boy and told him “NO more candy”.
Things were bad and they were going to get even more bad. The gang was fed up. They didn’t like the changes. Fat Boy sobbed. They missed Simon. He was their leader but he left in a snap. “Who is this Simon? Are you making him up?” asked the three shadows one day. Shorts tried to speak but the shadows only shouted. They searched around the playground, under every stone and leaf but found no Simon. The gang felt embarrassed but Thin had a plan.
The shadows came to the sand pit one day, ready to make their next change. But Thin stopped them. He said “you can’t make us”. The other three joined in. They mentioned that Simon said he’d visit them again and when he did, he would not be happy with all the changes.
“Well don’t you see?” said one shadow. The four looked at each other, puzzled. The shadows announced that they were followers of Simon and that they were sent to the sand pit by him. The four were surprised. They felt bad. “But then why didn’t he come back himse-”. One shadow raised his hand to interrupt Sandy. He said that the shadows were sent to look after the sand pit gang and to make any changes they wished. And if one said no to these changes they’d be in big trouble. “You mean Simon will-he would-” asked Fat Boy. Yes, if the new rules weren’t followed, Simon would punish them.
“Don’t you trust Simon?”, the four nodded like Jack Rabbits. “They why shouldn’t you trust us?”
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