Herbert and The Old Tree Stump

Herbert pushed the bulldozer through the sand, making engine noises with his lips. Pffft puttt pfft. He looked at the old tree stump next to his tractor tire sandbox, then back to the Tonka in his chubby paw. That old stump had been there forever, at least Herbert’s notion of forever.

Herbert had fallen off it last summer playing Superman. His cape, a blue blankie, fluttered behind him as he jumped off of it attempting to fly. Arms outstretched his cape caught on the rugged bark sending him smashing nose first onto it’s roots jutting from the ground. With a pop and a crack, his nose was bloody and crooked, and his front two teeth lay in the grass.

Herbert felt the crook in his nose and remembered the iron taste in his mouth. ”Stupid stump. If my cape hadn’t got stuck, I would have flown all over the place, ” he said to no one in particular. Herbert knew he could fly. He just needed to get a proper cape and not get caught on a stump. Instead of flying, he got multiple trips to the dentist and a broken nose.

He hurled his bulldozer at the stump, ”Dumb stump!” The toy clanged as it struck the tree.

”Hey! Who did that?” A bellow of a voice said.

Herbert sprung up, and his eyes searched for the owner of the baritone rumble. The chain-link fence around the yard showed no one around it. He twirled to look at the house behind him. All the house’s doors set closed, and windows shuttered. But the voice came from somewhere.

“Who said that?, ” Herbert said, waving a sand shovel from his box.

“I did.” Two big eyes opened right above the broken branch sticking out of the stump facing Herbert, who fell backward on his hind end in the sand.

“Who, who are you?” Herbert did what any normal little boy who believed he could fly would. “What’s your name?”

“My name is Hauman Twitoltal. What’s your name?” The bark under the branch moved as the stump spoke?

“My name is Herbert Westershire.” Herbert got back on his feet.

“Why did you throw your toy at me. That hurt.” Human Twitoltal stuck out his barky lower lip.

Herbert felt bad about throwing the bulldozer, but then he remembered his busted nose and broken teeth. “Because you hurt me first.”

“Hurt you first?! I think not my young Herbert of Westershire. I saved your life.” If the stump could have turned around, he would have. The insinuation that he would even consider hurting Herbert was a step too far.

“You grabbed my cape and made me fall on my face. Look at my nose, it’s crooked, and my front teeth won’t come back for another year.” Herbert felt the liquid pooling, then drip down his hot red cheek. “I just wanted to fly.”

“I saved you. I was just protecting you.”

Herbert pointed at the stump and shook the shovel at the old tree stump that had been there forever. “But I just wanted to fly with my new cape. What makes you think it’s alright to stop me from flying?”

“You don’t want to fly; you could hurt yourself. You could end up in outer space, or get hit by a plane, or your cape might come off and you’d fall into the ocean and get eaten by giant octopi. You might get hurt, and I was scared for you.” Hauman, the tree stump, felt like he had to step in just in case something happened. Herbert flying was dangerous.

“But what if I don’t get hurt? I could fly.” Herbert felt like it was his choice to make. “You ruined my cape, broke my nose, and knocked my two front teeth out. So I got hurt anyway. Maybe if you just let me fly, I’d be okay.”

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