The gate was open. The gate was never open. But someone had come in and not closed it properly. It was only a little bit open, just a teeny weeny gap, but big enough for a tiny body to squeeze through. Ethan eyed it thoughtfully from his vantage point in the sandpit. He stopped filling his bucket. The back of the tip truck was full anyway. He had been filling it and emptying it for ages. He discarded his little shovel and got to his feet. He looked around. He could see Mummy through the kitchen window. She was laughing. It must be something Auntie Shelly had said. He didn’t think she was all that funny really. She always gave him that strange look whenever she came to visit. She and uncle Danny didn’t have any children, Mummy told him, but he didn’t know why.
He took hesitant steps towards the gate. He shouldn’t go out there, he knew. He had been told. There was a park with lots of trees, and plants and bitey insects. He and Daddy had gone for a walk there once. Daddy had told him the names of some of the trees and the plants, but he couldn’t remember. He looked back at the house. He couldn’t see Mummy. He would just take one little look. He was a big boy. He could look after himself. After all, he was ‘free’, almost four.
He stuck his head through the gap. He couldn’t see, the grass was quite high. So he squeezed the rest of his little body through. There. He was now on the other side of the gate. He could see trees and plants but no insects so far. More steps. Further and further from the gate. There was a little track he could follow if he wanted to. Did he want to? Mummy would be cross with him, but he was curious and wanted to ‘splore and that beat Mummy being cross with him any day. So he ventured slowly down the track. A butterfly hovered briefly in front of him. He clapped his hands with glee and ran towards it. It fluttered away, he followed but it was too fast for him and disappeared. He could hear other noises now. Insects and birds and also the sound of cars in the distance.
He stopped and looked back. He could just about see the gate. A little further? A bee buzzed around his head. He didn’t like bees. They stung if they landed on you and that hurt. He had been stung once when he was very little and he still remembered how much it hurt. They also made honey, so he had been told. He loved honey. Mummy sometimes made him honey sandwiches with the crusts cut off. That decided him. That and the bee still buzzing somewhere nearby. He could hear it but he couldn’t see it. He marched back along the track.
He soon reached the gate. He looked around one more time. It had been a lovely adventure. He now knew what it was like to ‘splore all by himself. It was a little bit scary, but not too much. He squeezed through the gate and ambled back to the sandpit. He sat down and suddenly felt quite sleepy. He curled up on the sand, closed his eyes and was soon dreaming of his daring adventure and honey sandwiches with the crusts cut off.