Dad was still in the shed and, judging by the thumps I could hear through the living room wall, Rory was practising diving into the ocean from the sofa. (Either that, or – another of his favourite games – playing Batman leaping from the Empire State Building to catch a baddy.) Mum was still out. With the coast clear, and, as you might imagine, more than a little excited, I took my alien friend straight up the stairs to my bedroom.
As I opened the door my enormous map of the universe confronted us, hanging as it does directly above my bed on the opposite side of the room. I realised at this point it was probably my interest in space (so often mocked by others) that had singled me out for this special visit from an extra terrestrial being. Suddenly I felt privileged. Proud beyond words. Thinking of what my friends were probably doing at this precise moment, I also felt extremely smug.
‘There she is!’ I cried confidently, scrambling onto my bed and diving towards the map. ‘Now, where are you from?’
No ‘Eeek’ in reply. No already familiar pant of cool breath behind me. I looked around. To my horror the alien had vanished! Only thin air hovered in my doorway. ‘Friend…where are you?’ My heart beat furiously. Could I have imagined all this? Just then, to my delight, a puff of blue smoke rose from the foot of my bed, whereupon the alien stood up grinning from ear to ear – holding out my football boots!
‘How do you do that?’ I gasped, staring at the edges of his mouth. (I swear, they really were touching his ears!) But my friend wasn’t listening. Instead he was fiddling with the laces of the boots, echoing a low hum. Still ignoring me, he sat down on my bed and started putting my boots on. I, meanwhile, began eagerly pointing at my map of the universe quoting the names of the planets, which had moons and how many, and trying to guess which outreach my friend might have come from.
My boots seemed to fit him perfectly, though did look pretty stupid on the end of a pair of knobbly kneed, spindly fluorescent green legs!
‘Eeek’, as I decided to refer to him, was now wandering around my room showing more interest in my England team posters than any of my space paraphernalia. He even tossed my Stargazer telescope aside in favour of my England scarf which he slung round his neck as he continued to rifle through the mess on my desk. Finally I gave up my tour of the universe and scrambled off my bed. Eeek by now was sitting on the floor thumbing through the pages of my World Cup Sticker Book.
When he reached the England team he suddenly stopped and his wine red eyes filled with tears. Then a pale pink pear-shaped drop of water rolled down over his glowing green cheek and landed ‘Splat!’ right on Joe Carraber’s head.
‘Hey! Be careful with that!’ I lunged forward. Immediately I regretted my outburst, for as I now clutched the book to my chest I could see more and more tears welling in my friend’s eyes, and within moments Eeek was rolling around on the carpet in a near puddle of water, sobbing with a strange echo.
‘Look, Eeek, what is it?’ I finally sighed. This alien thing wasn’t turning out to be half the fun I’d hoped. Let’s face it, what self-respecting 11-year-old wants to spend their Saturday morning with a crying alien? Eeek slowly gathered himself and wiped away his remaining tears. He then gestured for the book which I passed over, not without trepidation.
Eeek placed the book on the carpet and eagerly pointed at the sticker of Northbridge United and England striker, Steve Owen. ‘Steve Owen!’ I said with a smile. Eeek nodded enthusiastically. ‘Good young player!’ I added. Eeek clapped his hands. Now we were getting somewhere. ‘Hang on? You know about Steve Owen?’ I was talking to an alien for cripe’s sake! Eeek confronted me with another of his indignant frowns. ‘Nasty ankle injury,’ I muttered vacantly. To my horror, Eeek’s eyes immediately began glistening again. ‘Oh, no, Eeek, please! No more crying!’ I now had my sanity to think of – not to mention my sodden carpet.