The Little Friend

‘I loved that book you recommended to me,’ said my friend, as we picked over the spoils of our tea and scones. ‘I told the book club about it and it was our book of the month. They all loved it too.’

A warm glow spread through me, a glow that went deeper than tea and scones.

‘I told them a little friend of mine recommended it to me.’

Some of the glow seeped out of me. I’m on the small side, but I’m not especially small. So what prompted her to use the word little? Even though I’m on the cusp of middle age, I’m still young enough to be her daughter.

To her, I was little because I had not yet accumulated the years of life experience that she had. But I feel I’ve accumulated enough life experience to move beyond being described as little.

*****

A group of us sat around a table on a sunny summer evening. The host was a great cook and produced tender steak, accompanied by a salad and floury potatoes. Salad does not usually delight my tastebuds, but this one was redeemed by the tomatoes, which tasted of sun. When I bit into them, they released jets of sweet juice.

‘Where did you get these tomatoes?’ I asked the host. ‘THey’re sensational.’

‘Oh, there’s a little man who sells them at the market.’ she said. ‘He’s there every Saturday. He’s marvellous.’

little man
Was he really a little man?

Is he really small, I itched to ask. Or is he a man with a little job?

In the wrong hands, words can become grenades.