There it was, the strangest jumble of people Jake had ever seen, all arguing over the size of things, all in different languages running along the lines of “We are small, see how big the world is?” and “We are big, see how small everything is?”
So Little was arguing with Big, Pequeño with Grande, Kleine with Große, Petit with Grand, Bach with Mawr, Beag with Mór, Små with Store and many others, including छोटे और बड़े, 小和大 and маленькие и большие.
This world, you see, has the Tribe of the Big, which is weird because they stand at just two feet tall. Then there is the Tribe of the Small, which is equally weird because they all stand at seven feet tall. It’s all about Perspective, which is the name of this world. The Bigs look at the world through a microscope and, seeing that everything is so much smaller than them, think of themselves as Big, even if they are short. The Smalls (not to be confused with laundry smalls) look at the world through a telescope and see how vast everything is compared to them, and so they consider themselves as Small, even if they’re tall.
So little Big says “I’m bigger than these ants, therefore I am big!” and then big Small counters “I’m smaller than this mountain, therefore I am small!”
“¡Oyé!” announces Pequeño, “Que no es así, tonto…”
Which riles Grande a bit, “Pero, ¿no tienes ojos para ver esta montaña o qué?”
Kleine doesn’t like this one bit and would say something, but 小 gets there first with “他可以一步一个蚁窝，他们咬住了他的位，他仍然不会看到他们!” Or something like that; Chinese just isn’t my forté. I won’t tell you what كبير said, my Arabic is as non-existent as my Chinese…
Jake was beginning to get dizzy. Even more dizzy than when he was struggling to understand the Nyoo Alfêbet of Hiêr. The problem was he had a serious handicap: he was in deep end of Englishness. You spend years learning bad French and saying things like “Murky bucket”, or “Mercy beau cul” if you’re lucky, and not being able to pronounce the different between cou (neck ) and cul (bum), which is a pain in the… well, either one of them will do for that expression.
Jake looked to his side to see a little naked fairy hovering next to him, naked for all except a colourful top hat. “Orph?”
The fairy turned its head, “Yes?”
“You seen yourself lately?”
Fairy-Orph took a good look at his new body form, and then, well, his whole body went bright red. Off he hurried, behind a bush, and came out wearing a good sized leaf. Clearing his voice he said “That’s better…” returning to his original colour.
“Eyksyoozemwuh sivoopley!” And here, even I’m confused. What, Jake?
“Vot?” Woops, I mean “Was?” [Are there any good lawyers out there? Kleine und Große are theatening to sue me for stereotyping…]
And then… oh, please don’t make me go through the whole list!!! We could be here for a while.
So after half an hour of each member of either tribe translating “What?” Jake could finally say:
“Erm, parlez-vous, uh, inglés?”
Which made Pequeño, Petit, Grande and Gran laugh. Well, if they didn’t laugh they’d cry.
Small and Big perked up, understanding what bad Españfrench sounds like coming from an Englishman.
“Hello! Can I show you how Big we are compared to the world around us?” asked small Big.
“Don’t be daft, he won’t see anything because everything is big and we are Small!” which would have started another huge argument had Jake not stepped in with a marvellous idea that stopped them all.
“Well, my name’s Medium!”
That stopped everyone in their tracks. This was a Very New Concept and no one could get their head around it.
“What’s medium?” asked Big.
“Is it something that’s quite big?” asked Small.
“No, it’s not big,” Answered Jake.
“Pues, es pequeño, ¿no?” suggested Grande.
After that had been translated, “No, it’s not big and it’s not small. It’s in between.”
As the logic of this took hold of each and every Small and Big a change came over them all. Their faces were frozen in a strange stare, as though the brains behind them were reordering themselves after a short circuit, and then, as each pair came to realise what Jake had said, their faces lit up and understanding dawned. And when that happened a strange thing happened, for ghostly figures began appearing between them, and they solidified, at around four to five feet each. And they began introducing themselves to their companions:
“Bonjour, je m’appelle Moyen.”
“Hola, me llamo Medio.”
“Guten tag, ich heisse Mittel.”
“Hello, my name’s Medium.”
And so it went on, until all of the Tribe of the Medium appeared and were talking with their little Big and big Small counterparts, and if you were to look very carefully you might even see the Tribe of the Big grow a little taller and the Tribe of the Small shrink a bit. But just a bit. So, whilst the Tribe of the Big looked through their microscopes and marvelled at things smaller than them, and the Tribe of the Small looked through their telescopes and looked at things far greater than they, the Tribe of the Middle stood in between, appreciating both perspectives, and resolving any conflict between the Big and the Small. Perspective was finally at peace.
The leaf clothed fairy nudged Jake on the shoulder, “It’s time to go now…” and a door opened in front of them, a shining rectangle of light.
“Is this it?” asked Jake, “Is this when I’m going to die?”
The fairy laughed, “No, not at all.” Jake felt relieved, “This is when you’ll face the Great Evil, the thing you’ve been avoiding for so long.” Jake stopped feeling relieved.
”But first you’ve got to look at something. Do you remember the piece of paper that had a drawing that you’d done as a kid?”
Jake remembered, and he placed his hand in his pocket and took it out to look at it.
“You must recognise what it is now?” Orph looked at Jake expectantly, knowing, or thinking he knew, that Jake would. “You’ll need to for where you’re going next.”
Jake looked and thought he saw… but then it was gone and just shook his head.
Orph’s face dropped, “Nothing? Well, erm, never mind,” he tittered, “I’m sure we can come up with something when we’re there, eh?”
And so they both stepped forward into the door of light (well, Orph flew through, of course) which closed behind them. What Final Showdown comes next? What will Jake do against the Great Evil? And will he ever recognise the magic that he once drew in his Childhood Scribbles?