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LJI:4 "Nobody can ride your back if your back's not bent." - MLK
The Climbing Boy

Once upon a time there was a boy who liked to climb everything.  He climbed trees and shelves, towers and roofs.  He liked to travel high too, riding horses and dogs and the townspeople’s shoulders and he never asked permission from anyone or anything.  He was rarely seen with his feet on the ground.

“What makes you like climbing so much?” asked his exasperated mother, cleaning footprints off the dining table again.

“I like to look down on everything.”

On this particular summer day the boy was on the roof of the barn, bored because he had already climbed everything in sight.  Then he saw an old woman walking down the road, bent under a load of firewood on her back.  “She must have recently moved,” he thought, “I’ve only seen her a few times before and she’s always carrying something heavy to and fro.  I bet she’s carried so many things she can’t even straighten up anymore.  I bet she could carry me. And she’s the only thing I can see I haven’t climbed.”

Looking forward to his new game the boy scampered down from the roof of the barn and began to follow the old woman.  He swung through the trees on the side of the road and walked along the tops of fences, always staying close behind her.  When the old woman stopped at a crossroads and lowered her firewood to the ground, the boy saw his chance.

He jumped off the fence and ran straight at the old woman.  It took no time at all to mount her; it was barely a climb, more of a jump.  He sat up straight with his bum on her lower back and his ankles hooked over her shoulders.  The old woman stayed very still.  Then,

“Boy, why are you on my back?”

“I had to climb you.  And now I want a ride. All bent over you make a perfect steed, and I can look down on the world from here.”

“What makes you think I can carry you anywhere?”

“That bundle of firewood is much heavier than I am.  Please,” he smiled his brightest smile (forgetting she couldn’t see it) and made his voice all honeyed, “I just want a little ride.”

“A little ride?”  The old woman took a slow step towards no road at all.  Then she took another.  With every step she got a little steadier and once they were off the road she grabbed on tightly to his ankles.  “Well then, my boy, a ride you shall have.”

Soon the old woman was running through the forest.  The boy whooped, thrilled; the forest looked so different from this new height.  Then the old woman went faster still, the trees became a blur, and the boy tried to jump off but she was holding his ankles too tightly.  He pounded on her back but she did not slow.  He hunched over so he could grab onto her shawl, and wondered when she would stop.  He cried until he ran out of tears.

On and on the old woman ran, until the moon came up.  The boy was cold and hungry and cramped from sitting hunched over for so long.  Finally the old woman began to slow; the trees became individual things again.  He could see a light up ahead and the old woman carried him right into a large kitchen and then stopped. Once again she stood incredibly still.  The boy was scared and stayed still and quiet too until he couldn’t stand it anymore.  “Put me down right now!” he yelled, then thought better of yelling at this strange woman and added “please” with his best smile (that she still couldn’t see).

The old woman stood straight up.  The boy dangled upside down in her grip. He looked around from this new angle and said “You’re really tall.”  The old woman began to laugh as she walked closer to the fire and let go.

The boy looked up at her as the old woman quickly grabbed the heavy cover for the cook pot and slammed it into place.  She yawned and stretched and cracked her back.  She took her cookbook down from the rafters, wondering what other ingredients she needed to gather.

***This is my entry for Idol week 4, other contestants' takes on this quote are here.  I do not advocate the cooking of little boys, even if they are horribly rude.***

You got a laugh from me with this one - I really enjoyed it. :D

Thanks! I'm always glad to inspire laughter.

Well I certainly didn't expect to see that sort of ending. :P

Honestly, neither did I. It took several drafts for me to figure out that the old woman was not going to let the boy go - heh.


haha, this was amazing. Kind of made me think of Aesop's Fables!

That was my original inspiration! I was trying to make a tale with animals and then it morphed into this which is a bit more Grimm, but I'm pleased with it.

Thanks so much!

I didn't expect that ending, either. That was quite a surprise! :)

Somehow I got to the idea of what if a bent back is a purposeful snare, and then this happened. Hopefully the surprise was a good one.

A meaty tale indeed! Well played!

Well punned! Though I'm not quite certain if he's going to be stew or the base for a potion.

Thanks so much.

At first I thought, "This might make a good children's story." Then it got to the old woman and I thought, "This is going to be like a fairy tale." When the old woman was giving the boy a ride, I got a "Hansel and Gretel vibe."

For me this started out as aiming for Aesop and ended firmly in Grimm territory. And little old ladies have to use what they have to lure rude boys in.


This reminds me of some of the Baba Yaga stories. Great tale.

Thank you! As this story morphed darker I read up a bit on Baba Yaga, she was definitely an inspiration for my old lady.

I loved this entry - very funny, and of course reminiscent of fairy tales. Nicely done.

Thank you. In early versions the old woman just tormented the boy before letting him go, but then I realized that if I was in fairy tale land I should go old school, and let it be dark. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Ha! I suspected that little boy was in trouble as soon as he climbed on that old woman without permission.

It's like a Grimm fairytale, with solid dooom at the end. :D

Climbing on people without asking is obviously asking for punishment from someone.

This started out with him learning a lesson and getting sent home, but it got dooomier with each draft. As it should be, I think.

Yay! Rude little boy gets what he deserves! ;)

Yes. Rude little boys are easier to snare and less likely to be missed, making them a prime target for old women who need ingredients.

You are fantastically gifted. This is just flawlessly done.

Thank you for your kind words. I ended up with several drafts of this one getting it just right, I'm grateful it worked for you.

I see the "mischievous" tag was very accurate. *grin* Very well told, and hopefully a caution to little boys everywhere.


Heh - I was scrolling down the list of tags and nothing was quite right until 'mischievous'.

Yes, little boys should learn they have to ask before climbing people, and should occasionally offer to help their mothers clean the table.


Lol. Most awesome, this. Great job!


As usual, your icon is perfect.

Great fairy tale, complete with a hidden moral.

Thank you.

Do not climb on people without asking seems like it should be obvious, doesn't it?