Lucas had been fat once. His mother had liked to cook, and he and his father had encouraged her by eating all the pecan pies, the sausage and potatoes, the endless casseroles and roast chickens with fresh bread rolls from the oven. Lucas’ face had a swollen but happy look, and his lisp almost seemed cute with all the extra fat jiggling below his chin. Of course he had been teased at school but that didn’t matter because at least his parents were alive then, united by bowls of steaming food and forks at the ready.
But now, at 12 years old the orphan called Lucas was skinny and tall. He acquired food through searching through the Woolworth bins or shop-lifting, it was divided between the dog and him. Lefty was a street dog who in his younger years had liked to fight, resulting in a missing leg. He was a faithful dog, as long as he was fed every day and at least had KFC once a week. In exchange, Lefty offered Lucas his coarse fur body as a pillow to sleep on at night.
Despite this Lucas was not homeless or as forsaken as one might believe. When his parents died from an extremely rare double coconut falling while in North Queensland, his mother’s strange sister Aunt Primrose had volunteered to take the boy in. She had always wanted children but had never gotten around to it and instead doted on her worm farm.
Lucas admired Oliver Twist, his dirty face and his adventure with the Gang of Thieves. Lucas had relocated to a small town in Victoria, Aunt Primrose had a large house with a sprawling garden. There was rumour about town and in the small school that she was a witch. The fact she didn’t seem to eat, and even worse cook, made Lucas want to believe this was true. Something as exciting as a witch was better than a three course meal. Aunt Primrose did have a laugh that came out like a cackle, and she laughed often as if it was as simple as breathing. But the broom only came out for sweeping and the jars of preserves were only of peaches and juicy pears the sweet smell wafted in the hot kitchen. Disappointingly there was no eye of newt, wing of bat.
Lefty had met witches and was glad that Aunt Primrose wasn’t one. She was odd yes, but rather friendly. He was old now and wanted to live out his final three legged days with simplicity and laziness and not be enchanted into magical forests looking for special mushrooms. But Lucas was an orphan, and as stories of orphans go they never can be ordinary. And although Dickens would not write a book about him, nor would there be a musical making a song and dance about his misery his universe would be like an ongoing surprise birthday party – without the delicious cake. Unfortunately Lefty’s easy life would be disrupted.
(To be continued – with suggestions. What would you like to see happening to Lucas and poor Lefty?)