Running with the Thing
by Guy Belleranti
“Exercise,” Marie gasped out. “Don’t you know that exercise…does the body…good?”
“Oh, I know…that,” Ramon said, equally out of breath. “I just thought maybe…you were trying…to get away from…the Thing.”
Marie slowed from a run to a trot and stared at him. “The Thing?”
“Yep.” Ramon slowed to a walk. “Do you see it, too?”
“Uh, no,” Marie replied, now also walking. “But I wasn’t looking.” She glanced to her left and then to her right. There was lots of activity going on around the neighborhood, but she wasn’t sure what Ramon meant by The Thing. “Do you mean that boy in the driveway over there practicing moves on his skateboard?” she asked.
“Nope,” Ramon said giggling. “He’s just a kid like us.”
“How about that lady walking that big dog on the other side of the road? Or that man raking the leaves in his yard?”
“No, no, no,” Ramon said. “Those are just a lady, a dog, and a man. I’m talking about the Thing. T-H-E and T-H-I-N-G,” Ramon spelled. Then he dropped his voice to a whisper and said, “It’s right behind me.”
Marie looked. “But, Ramon, there isn’t anything behind you. No one, nobody, and no T-H-I-N-G thing.”
“There is so,” Ramon declared.
Marie stopped walking completely and put her hands on her hips. “Okay, then tell me what it looks like.”
“Sometimes it’s tall and sometimes it’s short,” Ramon said. “In fact, right now…wow! Now there’s two Things. Come on, Marie. We have to run again to see if we can beat them home.” He chugged forward on his short legs.
Marie rolled her eyes. Little brothers could be so weird! She kicked back into running gear and in a moment had caught up to Ramon.
“Hey, Marie…Ramon!” Tony from next door swung his bike in alongside them. “What’s with the fast feet?”
“I’m exercising,” Marie panted.
“And I’m trying…to get away…from the Things,” Ramon said between gasps for breath.
“Things?” Tony asked. “What things?”
Marie slowed down to walking speed again. “No things at all, Tony. Ramon’s imagination’s gone goofy, that’s all.”
“No, it hasn’t!” Ramon cried. “The Things are there – you just aren’t looking right.” He came to a complete stop, spun around, and stuck out his right arm. “Look. Don’t you see them?”
Marie and Tony looked.
“Where?” Tony asked.
“Yes,” Marie said. “Where?”
“Right there…behind us.” Ramon waved a finger, pointing as he counted. “One…two…Yikes! Now there’s three Things.”
“AARGH!” Marie said. “Ramon, one Thing was a teeny bit weird and two Things was a little more weird, but three Things–that’s a lot weird.”
“No, it’s not! Ramon pointed and counted again, this time in rhyme:
They’re behind you two and me.”
“Marie sighed. “No, Ramon, they’re not. You just want us to join you in some silly game of imagination and–”
“I see them!” Tony interrupted.
“What?” Marie crossed her arms and glared. “Tony, you can’t see them because—” She blinked as both Tony and Ramon pointed and counted, “One…two…three.” They were right. There were three Things! Ramon’s shadow, Tony’s shadow and…her own shadow.
Come on,” Marie said with a grin. “Let’s run again and give our Things some exercise!”
1. What were Ramon and Marie doing outside?
2. Why did Marie stop running?
3. Who joined them on his bike?
4. What did the three Things turn out to be?