It’s 8:40pm and I finally just got this to a shopping centre (thank you late night shopping. Inspired by Adam Byatt’s idea of the mystical shirt of bad taste.
“There it is,” Mai squealed, pointing to a small tea house.
Inside, the tea house opened onto the hidden canal where the markets were held. It looked exactly as people had described it back home. Hundreds of tiny stone islands covered in stalls, each island connected by a wooden bridge.
There were many delicious delicacies and old treasures to find. One old man even gave us a free shirt which he claimed was mystical. Though Mai did point out on the way back through the tea shop it was the ugliest shirt she had ever laid eyes on and the smell was probably putting off paying customers.
As we walked along the river shops, I slipped on the shirt
“Ew, I can’t be seen with that!” Mai snorted with laughter. “You stay outside while I take a look in this dress shop.”
Before I could take the shirt off, a little boy speeding down the lane on a bicycle caught my eye. I watched as if in slow motion, he lost control and toppled straight into the river. I jumped in after him. I could see him caught on the bike sinking below me. I reached out in vain, then there he was, rising up through the water toward my outstretched fingers. I grabbed him and the water seemed to lift us, taking us back to shore. When I lifted him out, we were dry.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
He nodded, before running off.
“Lee!” I could hear his parents screaming. “Get away from that strange man.”
“He fell in the riv-“ I started to explain.
“C’mon Lee, he stinks,” I heard the dad explaining as they walked away.
When Mai got back I explained what had happened. She stared at the shirt.
“Do you think the old man was telling the truth?”
I shrugged and a piece of paper fell out of the pocket.
With great power must come humility. This shirt serves as a reminder.