(Illustration by Rico Schacherl 30 Nov 2009)
Phrederick was in seventh heaven. The sun was shining. He had finished his chores. His back was against his favourite tree and, best of all, he had Pachydella, Jungle Princess in his trunk. Pachydella was his favourite heroine. She was his only heroine. When he wasn’t reading her latest adventure, he dreamed of her, and in his dreams he was hers. Usually timid and reluctant to get more than his toes wet, with Della he bashes down trees, leads the herd in a trumpet dance, wallows deliciously close to her in the cool river.
Yellowbeak-blueness, Phred’s friend of the bird variety, was also enjoying the book. He’d come across the ellie in this very place some time ago, and been intrigued by his specs and reading matter. His air of concentration and suppressed excitement. Blue had flown to the branch above Phred’s head and started to read as well. The two never spoke; they wouldn’t have understood each other. But each afternoon of rest and shade, each book, drew them closer in companionable quiet.
Phred would have been surprised, but then not, to learn that Blue loved Pachydella too. In his dreams, Blue and Della race through the veld, scattering everyone in their path. They dive-bomb the matriarch. They watch the sunset from the top of the hill and get tipsy on marula fruit. Sometimes, she lets him sleep in a fold of her ear.
To both boys, there was no other creature so wonderful. But would they survive this shared adoration? Who knows? One thing we do know, love transcends all, as their friendship shows.