It's been absolutely ages since I've written anything for Lord of the Flies. Too long, I think. Anyway, this little pre-island oneshot is dark and creepy, and sort of came out of nowhere.
Hope you like it!
Roger is six years old, and he watches the moving men take their furniture away. They are moving, Mummy says, to a bigger house atop a hill. A grand place where everything sparkles.
Roger is six years old, and he doesn't approve. He likes this house well enough. He knows which steps creak, he can find his way to the kitchen at night to sneak sugar, he likes playing in the attic.
But Mummy says the family needs more room now. Mummy says Roger, dear, Mummy is going to be having a baby, and there just isn't enough room here, sweetie. Mummy kisses his sweaty forehead and smoothes his hair away.
Mummy says, We'll be moving closer to Jack's house.
Mummy doesn't know he hates Jack. Mummy thinks Jack is a fun boy to play with.
Mummy is wrong. Jack is dull and bossy. Jack tells him what to do and whines to his Mummy when he doesn't get his way. Jack doesn't play properly. He squeals like a skinny pig when Roger shows him his bug collection.
Roger doesn't tell Mummy this, because Mummy doesn't know about his bug collection. Mummy doesn't like bugs either, but Roger thinks this is okay, because Mummy is a girl.
She picks him up and says, I'm taking you to see Jack, sweetie.
Roger says, No. He says, I don't want to.
But Mummy laughs and puts him in the car. Mummy doesn't know Jack is dull and bossy.
Roger watches the moving men as they pile furniture into something Mummy calls a moving van. He wonders where they will put his things.
It doesn't take long to get to Jack's house atop the hill. It's big, and Roger doesn't like the butler. He answers the door with a scowl and Roger sticks his tongue out at him.
The butler ignores him and speaks to Mummy. He says, Mrs Merridew is with her son in the conservatory.
Mummy nods and says, Thank you, and they pass through the house.
Jack is drinking his milk. He doesn't swing his legs, and he always wipes his mouth when he puts the cup down. His Mummy beams at him, and he looks full of what Father Murray calls pride.
Roger doesn't like it.
Jack's Mummy smiles and says, Why don't you two go play out in the garden?
Jack says, Alright, Mummy.
Roger smiles at Jack's Mummy because that's what he's been told to do, and follows him outside. He says, You look stupid drinking milk.
Jack glares at him. I look a proper man. Not like you. You look a brute.
Roger doesn't know what brute means, but he doesn't ask. Jack is older and knows more words.
Jack leads him far into the garden, down to where neither of their Mummies can see them, and he says, We're going to play cowboys and Indians. And you're going to be the Indian.
I'm always the Indian! Roger cries.
That's because you're a savage brute, Jack says.
Roger glares. Then I won't play.
You have to! You're at my house so you must follow my rules! Jack stomps his foot for emphasis.
Roger walks away, not caring if Jack runs to his Mummy. But Jack doesn't; he follows Roger deeper into the garden, watching him.
Jack sounds grumpy, but he says, There are butterflies here. I've seen them.
Roger smiles a bit. He says, Help me catch one.
Jack makes a face. I'm not doing that, he says. Do it yourself.
There is a Monarch butterfly that flaps above their heads. Roger watches it hungrily as it alights on a flowering bush. He moves forward slowly; the butterfly senses no danger as it rubs its tiny legs together.
With a lightning bolt lunge, Roger captures it between his tiny hands. It flutters between his palms.
I got it, he says. No thanks to you.
Jack looks quickly back to where their Mummies are, then he sticks out his tongue at Roger.
Roger ignores him. Instead, he kneels down, the butterfly still in his hands.
Watch, he says.
Jack ignores him and kicks at a pebble.
Watch, he says again.
Jack gives the pebble another kick, then turns to Roger. What?
Roger has the butterfly held by its thin legs. He takes it by the wings and turns to Jack.
Are you watching?
Jack mumbles, yes.
Roger smiles, and pulls slowly. The wings come off cleanly, and the wingless butterfly falls to the ground, legs kicking.
For my collection, he says calmly, and steps on what remains of the butterfly.
Thoughts? Do tell.