THE RED POST BOX by David Edwards
Jane jumped in the air and flung her arms up and down. “Let’s pretend we’re birds, Becky,” she said. She flapped her arms again, but this time without jumping.
“No. I want to tell mummy what I’ve learnt in school today.”
“But she’s talking to my mum.”
“She always does,” Becky said softly but loud enough for Jane to hear. “And my three brothers never let me get a word in at home.”
Jane, who wished she had brothers to talk to, grunted, “Let’s race to the red pillar box at the end of the road?” She turned and tugged her mother’s tweed skirt. “Mummy. Please start our race off.”
“Ready. Steady, go,” her mother said without turning from Becky’s mum.
After eight steps Jane looked over her shoulder and saw her friend still with the two mothers. “Blow her,” she said, “I’ll race myself.” She liked running and often beat her classmates in school races.
An elderly lady coming the other way nodded to Jane and said, “I wish I could race you. I ran when I was younger.” She turned as Jane trotted past. “The red post box will be glad to see you.”
Jane almost stopped. What a strange thing to say. She stared ahead. The pillar box certainly seemed worried today. Its mail slot usually looked cheerful. Jayne always thought of this as a mouth that ate letters.
She slowed as she grew closer. It was a lovely red colour, the shame shade as one of her crayons. The small white square with the collection times on was a bit twisted. Jane thought of this as its nose. Putting her hands on her hips she took a deep breath.
“You run faster than that some days,” a man’s voice said. Then a loud hiccup sounded.
Jane turned as far as she could to the left and then to the right. No one was about. She frowned.
“Who is that?” she said, this time looking up and down.
“It’s rude not to pay attention when you are being talked to,” the voice continued and then hiccupped again.
She shook her head. Surely the voice could not be coming from the post box. She bent towards the letter slot. Two large hiccups and a groan came out of it.
“Are you poorly today?” she asked.
“I’ve swallowed a frog. He’s making me hiccup.”
Jane started to laugh but didn’t wish to be rude and so asked, “How did you swallow a frog.”
The pillar box mouth straightened now someone was listening. “A row of cars had stopped at the pedestrian crossing. Sitting on the roof of a blue Ford was a bright green frog. He looked at me and then suddenly jumped on to my red top.” A loud hiccup came again.
Jane put her ear to the letter slot .What was that sound. “Ribbit, ribbit.”
“That’s the frog telling me he wants to get out,” the post box said before hiccupping three times. “He’s upsetting my stomach. I’m only used to letters and packets.”
“Why did the frog jump in?” Jane asked.
“My white square was itching. I asked him to scratch it for me. As he did so a big lorry came past and the wind from it made him begin to fall. To save himself he shot through the letter slot. Now he can’t get out.”
Jane thought for a moment, and then shook her head. “My arm wouldn’t go far enough inside to reach him,” she said.
“I know, but it is almost time for my postman to stop in his red van and collect the letters. If you waited a few minutes you could ask him to let the frog out.” The post box shrugged and then said, “Could you ask your mummy to let you watch my tummy being opened and the letters taken?”
“What a great idea.” She saw her mother had caught her up. “Mummy can we wait and watch the postman take the letters out of this red post box?”
“Were you talking to the post box, Jane,” she asked.
Jane didn’t think her mother would believe her, so she ignored the question and asked again. “I’d love to watch the postman.”
Her mother said cheerio to Becky and her Mum and put her hand on Jane’s shoulder. Then a red van drew in to the curb. A tall man wearing a day glow vest grinned at them before pushing a key into the lock.
“Please will you let the frog out when you open the door,” Jane asked.
“A frog?” he said. “In here?”
“Yes. He’s jumped inside. Please let him out. He’s hungry.”
The post man opened the shiny red door, looked inside and took out the frog. “Well, I never,” he said and lowered the shiny green frog to the pavement.
“Mummy he winked at me,” she said as the frog jumped onto the low wall at the pavement edge. It turned and stared before jumping through a gap in the hedge.
Her mother smiled. “I think he winked at both of us,” she said. “He must be saying thank you.”
“Here. I’ll wink as well,” the post man said, putting the letters in his van. “Cheerio, both,” he said and drove off.
Jane patted the side of the red post box. She was sure it had softly said thank you to her. Holding her mother’s hand she began skipping along the pavement. She was glad her friend hadn’t run with her. Becky wouldn’t have talked to the red post box and the frog might still be inside.