“I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with …” The boy searches the surroundings, lifts his face towards the sky, but forgets to use a distractor before blurting out: “C.”
“Oooh, that’s tricky, Porkchop. Er … could it be ‘clouds’?” The second boy punches Porkchop on his chubby arm.
“Ow, Mikey! What d’you do that for?!”
“You know — just because.”
Mikey turns to the third, slightly older child and grins, but Sophie doesn’t take her eyes off the stream trickling by.
“Okay, my turn,” says Mikey. “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with …” He casts his eye around for inspiration and sees something, but unlike Porkchop, he makes a point of gazing in various other directions before giving the clue: “B.”
Porkchop, still rubbing his arm, slowly takes in the possibilities. A flock of boisterous, squawking parakeets lift off from the nearby trees.
“Ha! Got it! Birds!”
“Nope!” Mikey scoffs.
“No?! You sure? I bet you’re cheatin’.”
“I don’t need to cheat with you, Porkchop, you dumbo.” Mikey goes to punch the other boy again but stops his fist an inch from the target. Porkchop recoils.
Mikey grins at Sophie once more. She shifts her gaze from the stream to her bare, calloused feet.
“What d’you reckon, Sophie?”
Sophie appears not to hear. Mikey nudges her.
“Yes! Y’see, Porkchop? I wasn’t cheatin’.”
A trace of a quiver on Porkchop’s lower lip — beaten by a girl!
“Your turn, Sophie,” says Mikey, watching Sophie’s pretty, smudged face, waiting.
“I spy …”
She contemplates the thin bushes on the banks, the sun beating down on the dusty field beyond, her rough hands with their ragged fingernails, her grubby, tattered jeans. And the meagre stream, flowing on its tortured way into the distant heat haze. She sighs and lets her shoulders droop.
The boys’ eyes dart around eagerly while Sophie drags herself to her feet and fills her bucket to take back to the shack. They start firing out their guesses.
But they’ll never get the answer, and nor will Sophie tell them.
That what she spied was her tomorrow. And the thousands of tomorrows to come.