Araminta Arabella Higginbottom had a big name for a small girl. She hadn’t grown since the age of four and was by far the smallest child in her school.
Araminta loved ice cream. Whenever she heard the chimes of the ice cream van she ran out with her money in her hand to be first in the queue. But all the other children got their ice creams and lollies before her, because the ice cream man could not see her. “You must eat your greens”, he said, “then you’ll get bigger”.
Araminta enjoyed shopping at the supermarket. She liked to push the trolley while her mother loaded the tins and packets. But Mrs Higginbottom was always putting things in the wrong trolley because she could not see Araminta. “You must take your vitamins”, she said, “then you will grow”.
Araminta’s favourite treat was going to football matches with her father. She loved the atmosphere and the roar of the crowd. But she could not see the match unless her father lifted her onto his shoulders. “You must get more exercise”, said her father, “then you’ll shoot up a few inches”.
Araminta also loved outings with her Grandfather. One day they went to the circus. Araminta was spellbound by the trapeze artists. She applauded loudly when the lion tamer put his head in the lion’s mouth. She was amazed at the elephants, and amused by the chimpanzees.
But Araminta’s eyes opened wide when she saw an extraordinary clown. “Look how tall he is!” she said to her Grandfather.
“That’s because he’s on stilts”, he replied.
“What are stilts?” asked Araminta.
After the show, Grandfather took Araminta to the back of the big top to meet the clowns. Araminta wanted to know how difficult it was to walk on stilts. “It would only take you a week to master the art of stilt-walking”, said the clown, “but you have to learn with practice stilts”.
“Where can I find some practice stilts?” Araminta was keen to get some as soon as possible.
“No problem”, said the clown. “I still have mine from when I was little. You can have them for a week to see how you get on”.
So Araminta took the stilts home to practise.
As soon as she heard the ice cream chimes, Araminta put on her stilts and toppled out to be first in the queue. But the ice cream man couldn’t reach to pass her the ice cream cone.
When Araminta’s mother put on her coat and hat to go shopping, Araminta was first out of the door, teetering up the street on her stilts. Mrs Higginbottom had a job to keep up with her and when she reached the supermarket, Araminta had already demolished a pyramid of tinned beans and two shelves of cereals!
When Saturday came, Araminta put on her football scarf, hat and stilts. She was excited at the thought of seeing every goal without having to cling on to her father’s head. Mr Higginbottom paid for the tickets and pushed through the turnstile. Araminta tried to follow, but the stilts got tangled in the turnstile and she missed the match waiting for the firemen to cut her free.
After the match was over and Araminta was standing firmly on her own two feet, she said to her father “I don’t know what’s so great about being tall.”
“Well”, said her father, “there are other ways of getting the first ice cream and doing the shopping. I also know how you can watch the match from a better position”.
The manager of the football team was standing nearby. He was a friend of her father and was delighted that Araminta was a fan.
“How would you like to be our team mascot?” he asked Araminta. “You get to wear the team strip and you can sit on the bench with me. But there’s one condition – no stilts!”
Araminta was thrilled to be a mascot and decided she would never walk on stilts again.
© Kim M. Russell, 2015