The Camel Hill
Carefully she pushes the door a little bit further open so that she can see the entire veranda.
‘It’s true,’ she whispers. She hears well. Grandma also talks to the animals that sit in a semicircle around her chair. They are fascinated by what Grandma has to say. She would prefer to go for it, but a voice stops her.
‘Don’t do it,’ whispers something behind her.
She looks shocked and sees a squirrel sitting on the back of her wheelchair. A bit gray and the legs crossed as if he wants to show that he can sit very nicely. Just like the children who must sit upright in their seats in class at school.
‘Are you Corn?’
‘No, I am his father, but you really have to go to sleeping now, otherwise, you will mess everything up. Come on, a little quick and don’t hesitate.’
She looks at his little brown eyes. For some reason, she willingly closes the door and does what he tells her to do. She turns her wheelchair and drives quietly to her bedroom. Stops next to her bed and roll into her bed. She pulls over the blankets that Grandma had already opened. The sudden silence and tranquility give her an unpleasant feeling. She doesn’t quite understand what is happening. Has she now been sent to bed by a squirrel? I think I’m a little confused. Animals that can talk, what nonsense. I would have gone a bit crazy due to the accident. Yes, mommy brought me here because she thinks I am crazy. Of course, she doesn’t want a crazy child in the house. Maybe the people in the village, say that I am also a witch. All these thoughts are playing in her head and then the tears roll over her cheeks. Under her bed, she hears rustling, and she looks over the edge of her bed.
She is shocked when a squirrel comes out from under the bed and jumps on her blanket. She is so frightened that she swings her arm out immediately. If the squirrel had not been that fast, she would certainly have hurt him.
‘Ho ho, what do we get now? I haven’t done anything to you,’ and he carefully approaches her again. ‘I know what you’re thinking, but I can promise you that the animals can actually talk. You don’t have to cry, it’s okay. But you must have to do something for it. Only the sun rises for nothing. Do you promise me that?’
She apologizes. ‘But don’t do that again! You just jump on top of me. You could have warned me.’ ‘You’re right. Excuse me for scaring you like that. We are better off getting on with each other than then scare each other. I have so much fun, ha ha ha,’ he roars with laughter.”
‘It doesn’t have to be that exaggerated. I’m going to sleep because I’m tired. Good night, squirrel.’
‘Good night, darling,’ the squirrel answers and stretches out his beautiful red-brown tail. He carefully taps her nose with the tip of his tail. A cloud of blue, yellow and red glowing stars circles around her head and she falls asleep.
Grandma sneaks in and covers her gingerly. Gives her granddaughter a big kiss on her forehead and leaves the bedroom with the squirrel.
She sleeps through the night and the next morning when Grandma enters the room and wakes her up, she does open her eyes with difficulty.
‘Come on, girl, wake up. Breakfast is already waiting for you.’
She feels a bit strange, but she is also happy in a good way. Grandma helps her get up, drives her to the kitchen and they sit together in silence at the breakfast table. Fleurtje makes a sandwich and tells her grandmother that she slept wonderfully. ‘And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have any bad dreams.’
‘That’s what I like to hear,’ and strokes Fleurtje’s hair. ‘I like it for you. I hope you enjoying staying here.’
‘Grandma … you’re a sweetheart.’
She asks grandma to come closer, takes her head between her two hands and gives her a big hug.
‘Thanks, honey,’ and grandma gives Fleurtje a kiss on her forehead.
‘Now I have to clear the table because that’s doesn’t happen itself.’
‘Shall I help you?’
‘No, I will do it on my own. That goes a little faster.’
‘Because I have lame legs and you probably think I can’t help you?’ Grandma turns abruptly and looks at her granddaughter with a serious look.
‘You must never say that again, otherwise, I will treat you like a lame-duck from now on.’
Fleurtje is shocked and makes an excuse. ‘I’m sorry grandma. You are right I do not want to be an apathetic soul. It shot out before I realized it. I will try to restrain myself.’
‘Okay, I agreed. We don’t talk about it anymore. Just go outside and I’ll be with you in a minute.’
With a smile, Fleurtje drives to the terrace. She places her wheelchair neatly by the porch fence and basks herself in the first-morning sun rays.
Her thoughts go home, but soon she realizes that she likes it here. Suddenly she feels a strange feeling sliding through her body. It is very quiet, and a gust of wind is blowing her hair. She looks at the treetops, but they don’t move. The wind is suddenly no longer there either. A shiver runs through her body and for a moment she thinks she’s getting sick, but nothing could be further from the truth, because she feels super today. The fear of recent times has disappeared. Something in the corners of her eyes makes her stare straight at the floor.
‘Wappert, is it you,’ she whispers?
‘Yes, who else do you think!’
‘Are we going to do nasty? Is something wrong or, did you get out of your bed on the wrong site,’ Fleurtje answer and she looks questioningly at Wappert.
Wappert jumps forward and sits down in front of her wheelchair. Looks at Fleurtje and asks: ‘Have you seen Corn?’
‘No, not Corn, but his father.’
‘Oh no,’ he whispers and skittishly looks around.
‘What do you mean. I think he’s very nice.’
‘Corn’s father. No way, when he sees me, I am dead.’
‘What happens then. Have you something done, that is not allowed?’
Wappert shakes his head end and looks timidly around him.
Fleurtje turns her wheelchair and whispers that he shouldn’t be scared.
‘Not scared of Corn’s father?” And then he is gone again.
‘Well, yes. What is this about? I don’t get it. Wappert, come back. I will never harm you. Even if I wanted to, I can’t even do it because I can’t walk,’ but Wappert doesn’t listen and runs deeper into the forest.
‘Okay, I’ve had enough of this. Get out of here. I’m kidding myself here,’ but when she wants to go inside, a squirrel jumps on the backrest from her wheelchair. She thinks its Corn’s father, but the squirrel is also running away.
What’s going on here, she thinks. She peeks inside to see if she sees grandma. She is sitting quietly in her familiar chair. For a moment she looks up and asks: ‘Darling, do you enjoy yourself?’
‘Grandma. Can animals talk, or not?’
Grandma gets up and walks shuffling on her slippers to the porch. Slide two fingers through a tuft of Fleurtjes hair and says: ‘Can animals talk. Well, now you say!’
‘Grandma comes on, is it really like that. I think I’m dreaming or I’m going on mad.’
Grandma looks at her with a smile, squats in front of her so that she can talk to her on the same level.
‘Little girl of mine. What does it matter if you are dreaming? As long as you enjoy it. Trust your grandmother and forget what is happened in the past.’
Fleurtje doesn’t understand what grandma means.
‘Leave it behind. I think that’s not possible,’ she says.
‘I understand that, but don’t you like nice dreams?’
‘So, I dream anyway?’
She lays a hand on that of her granddaughter, and with a smile, she says, ‘Not so many questions girl,’ and gives her a little slap on her nose. Getting up and humming, she walks back to her familiar chair.
‘Dream, dream, dream …’ a voice is singing behind her.
She turns and sees a squirrel’s head protruding just above the edge of her chair. Just when she wants to turn her wheelchair around, he has already disappeared. She looks over the edge but sees nothing.
‘Dream, dream, dream …’ she hears again.
You know what, she thinks. I pretend to do I don’t hear him. She remains completely silent and starts humming softly. That doesn’t bother the squirrel. He jumps on her left shoulder and walks to the right shoulder. Pushes his soft fur against her cheek and asks. ‘Are you mad at me,’ and jumps for her on the table.
Fleurtje falls from one surprise to another and eagerly awaits what else will happen.
The squirrel jumps forward a bit and goes as close as possible to her chin. Grabs her nose with both legs and presses his nose against hers. But if he wants to say something, he chokes.
Fleurtje starts to roar with laughter and say: ‘
I’m mad at you. No … that would be great.’
The squirrel stretches and gently rubs its nose with its front paw.
‘I’m Corn, but Wappert, my friend, calls me Cor.’
‘Why Cor, Corn is a beautiful name,’ she smiles.
‘I think so, but he can’t say Corn. That’s because of his large teeth, nice isn’t it.’
‘I don’t know if it is nice!’
‘Of course, I do, Wappert and I make fun of each other.’
While Corn talks about Wappert, he comes running and asks: ‘Where do we always laugh about?’
Corn jumps from the wheelchair and jumps on top of Wappert’s back. Lifts his sagging ear and whispers something that is apparently not intended for Fleurtje’s ears.
In order to be able to hear the conversation between the two, she leans forward as far as she can and listen to what they have to say. But there is no more than a squeaky sound.
Corn and Wappert suddenly get serious and sit next to each other. Wappert, who is licking one of his paws, grabs his slack-hanging ear with both paws and stares shyly in front of him. Corn shakes his tail a bit, taps Wappert’s leg and tells him to stop. Wappert follows his gesture and sits up beside Corn.
Fleurtje looks at the spectacle with tears of joy in her eyes and she thinks it is wonderful to see but does not yet know why they whispered so much.
‘You two make me so happy. I love you both’ and she wipes away a tear. ‘But why did you whisper like that?’
Both are embarrassed but don’t show her that.
‘Is there anything,’ she asks. ‘Then you must say so. I don’t like secrets.’
‘We have to talk to you,’ says Corn kindly.
‘But we’re already talking,’ and she suddenly realizes she’s talking to animals. She presses her back against the backrest, shrugs her shoulders and thinks.
Talking animals. I still can’t believe it, but I still hear it.
Corn jumps in her chair spin a few laps around his axis and says quickly one after the other.
‘Come, come, pay attention!’
‘Yes, yes, she says strangely, ‘I can’t follow you. I want to listen, but I think I’m being fooled. You act weird.’
She raises her hand and hits hard against the blade of her wheelchair. Frightened, Corn jumps off the wheelchair and sits down next to Wappert on the ground. For a moment it stays quiet, then Corn says: ‘Leave that. I am always scared of loud noises.’
‘I’m sorry Corn. What did you want to tell me.’
Corn climbs back on her chair and sits down in front of her again.
‘You have to listen to Wappert very carefully because he talks a bit difficult.’
Fleurtje leans forward in a controlled manner to be able to see Wappert properly. He grabs his ear with both forelegs, scrapes his rabbit throat and whispers: ‘Fleurtje we want to know why you should stay with your grandmother for so long. You must tell us everything and not lying, but tell us the truth.
Fleurtje looks at them guiltily, knowing that the truth is not so nice. She hesitates for a moment, but after a few deep breaths, she tells her story.
She tells them about the accident and the death of daddy. The long time she had to stay in the hospital. And the sadness that her mother has to bear now that she also has to take care of her because she can no longer walk and has to move in a wheelchair. She also says that she has not been so nice to the people around her and that she now understands why they no longer like her.
Corn and Wappert listen carefully to what she has to say. Then suddenly it becomes quiet and Fleurtje thinks that they too will not like her anymore.
‘Now that you’ve heard my story, you’re certainly not so proud of me anymore,’ she asks cautiously.
‘Well, we already knew that,’ Wappert replies.
Corn jumps back on her shoulder and says: ‘Don’t pay attention to Wappert.’
‘Corn shut up, otherwise, I will call my brother,’ Wappert chuckles and Corn is silent immediately.
Fleurtje looks surprised from one to the other continues: ‘I was no longer manageable at school and for the people who love me,’ and she looks questioningly at both.
‘Go ahead,’ whispers Wappert.
‘I’m not proud of myself. At school, I got so mad at one of the children that I hit her with my ruler in her face.’
Shrugging, she tells the event in one breath. And the further she gets in the story, the easier it goes for her. And then suddenly she bursts into sobs.
‘And I got so mad at them, that’s why I hit one of the kids with my ruler in the face. You know, I don’t even regret it. They were so ugly to me. They bully me with the fact that I am in a wheelchair and that it would be my own fault. It drove me crazy, but that is no reason to be so ugly against the people who really love me, I regret it.’
Fleurtje can’t stop crying, she is so ashamed.
Wappert, who has been listening to her all the time, looks at her with compassion. He nods at Corn, who grabs an earlobe from Fleurtje with his paws.
‘Don’t do that Corn, it tickles,’ she sobs.
Corn who receives a signal from Wappert that he must stop continues to tease. Fleurtje stops crying and looks sadly at Corn and Wappert.
Wappert stands up and puts his paws on his back. He walks to and fro before her wheelchair. Stops than and says: ‘It is all very sad, but that is no reason to respond on that way.’
‘But they still call my grandmother a scary witch and I don’t like that up. Grandma is a lovely lady.’
She clenches her fists but sees that Wappert doesn’t like it and Wappert angrily appeals to her: ‘Don’t do that, stop the pathetic behaviour.’
Corn jumps off her shoulder, stands next to Wappert and starts teasing her. ‘Wappert means it. I’d just keep calm if I were you.’
Fleurtje is a bit ashamed and stares at Wappert. ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it anymore,’ she whispers.
Corn calls to Wappert that he must stop running around, but he doesn’t listen. Corn suddenly jumps on the ground and stops him. ‘Now it’s over. You make us crazy with that running back and forth. You look like a hare instead of a rabbit. They always jump back and forth like that,’ he shouts irritably.
‘Yes, yes, I am standing still, but don’t call me a hare, otherwise, you will get it,’ and he starts to chuckle.
‘Stop that chuckle, you look like a girl rabbit. Fleurtje probably won’t like it what we have to tell her.’
‘I also don’t like that you made up the name Wappert for me,’ grumbles Wappert.
Corn climbs in the tree and knows exactly what Wappert means by that. He lets himself slide down and just above Fleurtje’s head he calls to Wappert.
‘Let me tell her why I gave you that name,’ he says.
Fleurtje stares from one to the other and asks: ‘Can both of you stop with teasing each other.’
‘Only if you don’t get mad at me,’ Corn answers.
‘It’s all right, I won’t get angry. But if you both continue like this I will go inside.’
Corn leans forward as far as possible and when he hangs just above her head, he shouts.
‘Your grandmother is called ‘The Ugly Fairy’,’ and quickly he climbs back to the top of the tree.
‘If I catch you, I’ll eat you raw,’ Fleurtje answers angry
Corn drops from the tree and sits down in the grass next to Wappert.
Wappert looks at him and shaking his head. He asks Corn when he will get serious.
‘Did I do something wrong Wimp nose,’ he asks. ‘Yes, Wapnose that is an even nicer name than Wappert.’
Wappert grabs him by the tail and lifts him off the ground.
‘Let me go, I will be kind to you, I promise,’ begs Corn.
‘Just for me, and what about Fleurtje. She has become very angry because of your childish behaviour.’
‘But she promised not to get mad at me and you have to keep promises.’
Fleurtje interrupts them and says, ‘I promised I wouldn’t get mad at you, but I’m not mad, I’m furiously at you,’ she shouts!
Wappert, who still has Corn by his tail, wants that Corn to apologize to Fleurtje.
‘Why. I don’t do anything,’ Corn answers’.
‘Then I give you to her and you know what she’s going to do with you.’
‘Give him to me Wappert. I eat him with skin and hair. You know, I love squirrels.’
‘Okay… okay, I surrender. Sorry for my childish behaviour. I can promise you that your grandma is a very sweet and nice ugly fairy. It’s just a joke to tease you,’ Corn apologizes.
‘Apologizes accept,’ Fleurtje replies. ‘To be honest, you are just a little right. If I didn’t know that grandma is a very sweet person, I would also think she is an ugly witch too. You know, Grandma would say, let’s forget it.’
Wappert lets Corn go and he flops down on the ground on his backside.
‘Get out,’ Wappert calls suddenly, and both run in a different direction.
Fleurtje is surprised and doesn’t understand what is happening. Suddenly she hears rustling among the bushes. She keeps quiet and sees a ferret creeping out from under the bushes. The ferret is snooping around, and she understands why Corn and Wappert have taken off. When the ferret picks up the smell of both, the ferret becomes completely crazy. Roaring and sniffing, he follows the trail and Fleurtje looks with anticipation at what the ferret will do. She sits still and thinks about what the teacher told them about the ferret at school. She said that ferrets are predators that hunt rabbits and squirrels. They are also often confused with a polecat. The ferrets are used for hunting to combat the population of rabbits.
Ferrets are very fast and have enormous stamina. When a squirrel is hunted by a ferret, it often ends badly. A squirrel may jump from tree to tree, but a Ferret will be hunting after the squirrel till he can no longer continue.
Unexpectedly, the ferret stops spinning, looks at Fleurtje and asks: ‘Have you seen Corn!’
She nods fiercely and says, ‘No, who is Corn?’
‘Don’t be stupid, he has just been here. I can smell it anyway.’
‘Too bad for you, but I don’t know who you mean.’
‘Why don’t you want to tell me. He is my best friend,’ he starts slimy.
She even doubts, but then she thinks about what the teacher taught her. If corn is his best friend, why does he run away quickly, she worries.
‘Come answer me, I don’t have your time. After all, I haven’t …..,’ he mumbles without finishing his sentence.
‘You certainly wanted to say that you didn’t eat in days,’ Fleurtje replies. ‘If I knew where he was, I would say so. I hate squirrels.’
‘So, you know who Corn is,’ the ferret replies. The water drips the ferret out of his mouth, and he nods at her.
Fleurtje calls her grandma and the ferret quickly takes off and flees into the forest.
Grandma comes out and lovingly strokes her granddaughter’s head. ‘Do you enjoy yourself,’ she asks.
‘Grandma. Is it true that you….?’ Fleurtje doubts. no, she can’t ask grandma that. Then she says: ‘I have got a huge hunger from all of this.’
‘Come, I have already got a nice lunch for us on the table, grandma says.’
After lunch, Fleurtje returns to the veranda and searches down the hill. She hears the birds squeak and further on there is a squirrel high in the tree. Could it be Corn, she wonders, but the squirrel makes no attempt to move in her direction.
Grandma who puts a chair next to her sits down and puts an arm on the tray as support. ‘Don’t you think it’s wonderful here? Soon when the leaves are really going to fall, it will be much nicer. Do you know how they call that hill over there?’
Fleurtje shrugs and shakes her head that means that she doesn’t know.
‘The Camel Hill.’
‘Camel hill, but there are no camels here. But yes, I have experienced crazier things today. This is also possible.’
Granny pressed her cheek against that of granddaughter and points to the hill. ‘Take a good look and you’ll see two bumps. To the left of those bumps is a crooked tree.’
Fleurtje lets her gaze go down the hill and gets excited when she discovers the tree.
‘Yes grandma, now I see it too. Just like a camel,’ and when grandmother looks at her granddaughter, she sees her shine.
‘Grandma, the air here smells so good.’
Grandma nods and sniffs deep into the forest air. ‘Now that you say it, I almost forgot how nice it smells.’
‘I would like to live here forever,’ Fleurtje says with a smile on her face.
‘Honey, listen to me,’ Grandma whispers.
Fleurtje looks at Grandma in surprise. She hears the seriousness in her whispering voice and Grandma continues:
‘After the school vacation you have to go home, so let’s enjoy the time that we have as much as possible.’ Grandma turns her face to the hill. ‘This hill,’ she continues.
‘You mean the camel hill, yes, grandma?’
‘Yes, sweetheart, the camel hill. He can become yours.’
‘From me,’ Fleurtje asks, surprised. Excited, she looks at the beautiful trees and listens to the chirping birds. She doesn’t understand and asks. ‘But Grandma, how and when.’
‘Oh, that doesn’t just happen. You will have to do your best for it. This mountain is yours if you find the right man and he knows the only right questions and answers.’
Fleurtje raises her lip and finds that grandma says strange things. ‘Come on, Grandma, don’t be weird. How should I find the right man with my disability? There is no one who wants to marry a lame one.’
She looks at Grandma but sees in her eyes that she means it. In order not to offend her or to hurt her, she decides to keep her mouth shut and lays her hand on that from grandma. ‘You know, Grandma, I’ll wait and do my best not to disappoint you.’
Grandma nods satisfied, gives her a kiss on her forehead and walks quietly inside. In her mind she is satisfied with the result she has achieved so far with her granddaughter.
For a moment she turns around and looks around. What shall she fit well in this environment it goes through her and she hopes that the result will end just as well?
End of Part 2