The Earth Moves

Entry by: Alobear

22nd April 2016
The Earth Moves

I am seven years old.

It’s the school holidays and the summer sun is shining down on the small patch of grass that makes up our back garden. My older brother is there, as are my parents, and we’re all looking at the lawn with varying levels of dismay. Criss-crossing the grass in random patterns, the earth below has erupted through the green stalks, showing where some nefarious creature has been digging tunnels.

Our garden has a mole.

This is the garden where my brother and I play tennis up against the back wall of the house. This is the garden where my mother sunbathes in rare moments when free time co-incides with sunshine. This is the garden where my father begrudgingly mows the lawn when the grass gets too high. This is the garden where we work, and live, and play as a family.

But now it has been invaded by an insidious interloper, who has taken the space for its own.

I’m actually quite excited by the presence of the mole. Surely, they are cute and furry, and couldn’t possibly mean us any harm. But no, my mother says it has to go, and that is why we are all now standing on the patio, our eyes turned to the clear evidence of our unwanted guest.

There is someone else here with us, too. He is a tall and burly man in dungarees and a stained shirt. He has a bushy beard and big boots, and he is stomping all over the garden, inspecting the tunnels. There’s something about him I don’t like but, if asked, I don’t think I could say what it is. His presence somehow feels like more of an intrusion than the mole’s, even though the man is here to restore our garden to us.

The man pays no attention to me or my brother, instead only looking at and speaking to my parents. I’m listening, though, and it soon becomes clear to me that the little mole is unlikely to survive the traps that will be laid for it.

A classic, seven-year-old’s tantrum ensues. The man is less than impressed and, after all, he is only trying to do his job. My mother attempts to reason with me, and is probably thinking she should have insisted that my brother and I remain inside for the duration of this consultation. My brother is not making a fuss, but he looks quietly disapproving of the mole-eradication plan.

While the scene is still playing out, something wholly unexpected occurs. The earth moves at the exterminator’s feet, he bends down, reaches out with the speed of a serpent’s strike, and straightens up with the mole wriggling in his hand.

The mole is smaller than I would have expected. Its fur is deep black, but shiny in the afternoon sun, like an oily patch on the driveway. We all stare as it struggles in the man’s unforgiving grip, its pink feet scrabbling against empty air. My mother is the first to regain her senses, hurrying into the kitchen and returning quickly with a plastic ice cream box. She and the man work together to secure the mole inside, and his job is prematurely completed.

At my mother’s insistence, he promises faithfully that he will drive some distance out into the coutryside and release the mole into the wild, where it can live a happy life, untroubled by, and untroubling to, humans.

I believe him.

I am seven years old.


(True story - I still remember it vividly, even thirty years later!)