Locke's Bandanna

A little boy was playing by the beach with his black-haired friend. They were trying to catch the seabirds by the water's edge. The girl suddenly stopped. She remembered something really neat she had wanted to tell her friend.

"Did you know?" she said, yanking on his sleeve. "Did you know what my mom found?"

The boy looked up and shrugged.

"She found a sick man!" the girl said in an excited whisper.

"What's so great about that?" the boy replied. "Your mom's found lots of them sick people. She helps the doctor, of course there're sick people. What's so great about another one?"

The girl continued yanking on her friend's sleeve until he finally looked at her.

"But he's a stranger," the girl said emphatically, as though that explained all her excitement. When the boy seemed about to shrug again, she added, "and he's dressed really strange and he's all hurt with cuts and he's got this big bag of money and a big knife!"

Well, this really was exciting news. A strange man with lots of money and a knife! The boy tried to act like he didn't really think it was such great news. He was a whole three years older than the girl, and he couldn't let himself act as though he was just a kid like her.

"And what's your mom say about him?" the boy asked as casually as he could.

"She calls him a 'no-good bandit,' but I think he's a great warrior," the girl said.

"A bandit? A warrior?" the boy asked with awe, forgetting to act his age.

The girl smiled, pleased that her older friend didn't think her news was childish and uninteresting. "Wanna see? My mom won't mind."

The boy nodded, and they were off at once

The next day, the two children met at the beach as usual. The boy proudly sported the stranger's bandanna over his own brow. He felt like he was a treasure hunter, the richest and sneakiest treasure hunter in the world.

The girl frowned when she saw the boy. "You shouldn't have took the man's scarf," she said.

"It's not a scarf, it's a bandanna, and I'm only borrowing it until he wakes up. He's not gonna wear it now, silly" the boy said. He was a little annoyed at his friend. It was only a bandanna, after all. It wasn't as though he had taken the knife. Not even he would dare to touch that.

"I still think you shouldn't have took it. And I'm not silly," she said quietly.

The boy felt a little sorry that he had called her silly, but it would simply be too uncomfortable for him to apologise to her. He tried to cheer her up instead. He liked to see her smile. "But isn't it so neat? I'm just like an adventurer, just like him, except I'll never get all hurt 'cause I'm the greatest adventurer!" the boy exclaimed. "And you can be the poor girl who needs money to feed her family, and I'll go and get all this treasure for you. Wouldn't that be fun?"

The girl smiled a little. It would be fun to have her own hero. Besides, he was only borrowing the bandanna. Seeing his friend smile made the boy very happy. He even found a pretty shell for her, and they spent the rest of their time that day treasure hunting for more shells.

A number of days later, the boy was chasing some seabirds by the water's edge. His friend was late and he was getting impatient. He adjusted the bandanna. He never wore it in the town, and never near grown-ups. It was part of his adventuring dreams, and wearing it all the time would take away some of its wonder. However, he decided that when he grew up, he would wear a bandanna all the time, because then he'd be a real treasure hunter. Maybe when the man got better he would let the boy keep his bandanna. The boy smiled at the thought.

The sound of his friend calling his name jerked the boy out of his reverie. She ran up to him with a worried look on her face.

"What's wrong?" he asked her. He thought that perhaps someone had bullied her.

"The man," she said, "is...he's dead."

"Oh," the boy said, a little shocked. The man wasn't just a stranger, he was a brave adventurer, a warrior, a hero. He shouldn't have to die so young, all alone, with no name to put on his gravestone.

After a long moment of silence, the girl dared to speak up. "The...the bandanna, aren't you going to give it back?"

The boy took the bandanna off his head. "No," he decided, "I've got a better idea. See, I'll wear his bandanna, and be like him! Then I'll be as great as he was. And I'll go around and be a hero, and they'll remember the man and they'll think how great he was too."

The girl was not at all pleased with his idea. "But you said you'd give it back. You got to give it back. You took a dead man's things."

"I'll give it back when I see him in heaven," the boy said. He was very annoyed that the girl didn't like his idea.

"No, no," the girl insisted. "Mom said when you take a dead man's things you've gotta do a good deed with it, or...or...something bad will happen."

"I said I'll do a good deed with it. Didn't you hear my idea? That's a good deed, isn't it?" the boy said. His friend was still very upset, and he was a little nervous himself about taking a dead man's bandanna. To take their minds off the matter, he suggested that they try to catch a seabird. The girl simply sat on the sand and watched him.

"Look, I caught one!" the boy exclaimed. He showed the white bird to his friend. "See, I caught one, isn't it pretty?"

"Oh!" the girl exclaimed, jumping up. "It's hurt, that's why you caught it so easy. Let me see, there's something in its wing. Let me see! I can fix it, my mom showed me," the girl said with something like pride. She gingerly took a thorn out of the wing. "See? You fix it up like this, see? Let me have the bandanna."

"What? What for?"

"The good deed," she reminded him.

The boy reluctantly handed her the bandanna. She bandaged up the bird's wing and released the bird onto the sand. The seabird immediately ran off.

"Think it'll be all right?" the boy asked.

"Yep, my mom showed me how to do it." Looking worried again, the girl added, "I hope that's a good enough deed."

"Sure it is. A good deed's a good deed. Sure it's enough. And the man would be happy that we did it," the boy said reassuringly.

"Right, he would be, wouldn't he?" the girl replied with a smile. The boy answered this with a smile of his own. The good deed seemed to make the stranger's death less saddening.

The two children spent the rest of the day playing by the beach.

author's note: did nobody else think that Celes was jumping to conclusions?

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