the short story project


Nurit Zarchi | from:Hebrew

See You at the Pole

Translated by : Annette Appel

“Sir, I have something for you.”

Mr. Zoom stopped walking and looked around.

Cars whizzed by, people strode past, but a deliveryman reached out and handed Mr. Zoom a package.

“Why me?” said Mr. Zoom who was hurrying to his office.

“Because everybody should make time to help somebody else,” said the deliveryman.

Mr. Zoom turned. He wanted to get going.

“But don’t take off the wrapping,” shouted the deliveryman as he rounded the corner and disappeared.

He left the package on the hood of the nearest car.

Mr. Zoom was in a big rush and planned to walk away but he thought he heard something.

It was the package.

He put his ear next to the box and asked, “What? Tadpole? Did you say tadpole?”

The package quivered and Mr. Zoom walked toward the small pond in the middle of the park. He wanted to get rid of the package as quickly as possible and go to his office.

When he reached the pond, he said to the package, “Is this what you meant?”

The voice inside said something.

“Oh,” said Mr. Zoom. “Did you mean patrol? I really don’t have time for this right now. I’m in a big rush to get to the office.”

But the package said it again, and Mr. Zoom hurried off to look for a patrol car.

He walked along busy streets, waited at crosswalks, rushed past a road block until he finally saw a policeman on patrol. “Here we are! Is this what you meant?”

“Profiterole,” said the package.

“Can you try to speak more clearly?” Mr. Zoom was getting frustrated. “We walked halfway across town and now you want a fancy piece of cake?”

The package quivered again and so Mr. Zoom marched over to the nearest drugstore and bought a pack of Oreo cookies.

“Good enough?” he asked.

“Superbowl,” answered the package.

“Stop it,” said Mr. Zoom. “This is getting ridiculous. I was just minding my own business, walking to the office. Everyone over there is waiting for me. Now, I must be going crazy, taking orders from a package?!”

The package did not answer and Mr. Zoom rushed off towards his office.

It was already very late and when he arrived, the place was empty.

“Happy now?” Mr. Zoom said as he threw the package on the table.

One corner of the package tore open.

“For a stroll,” whispered the package.

“What?” said Mr. Zoom. “After I dragged you here and there and everywhere, now you want to go out again for a stroll?”

The package trembled and Mr. Zoom said, “You have to speak clearly if you want to be understood.”

“Out of control,” said the package.

“I’m out of control?” said Mr. Zoom. “How dare you!” And he ripped off the wrapping in a frenzy.

“Oh my,” said Mr. Zoom. “It is an egg!”

And the egg, whom Mr. Zoom could now hear very clearly, said, “The South Pole. Open on Sunday.”

“Today is Friday,” Mr. Zoom said in alarm. “And I opened the package three days too early. What should I do now? The South Pole can wait, but the egg cannot.”

He cleared away all the documents and files, chose the softest pillow, hung a sign on the door that read “Do not disturb! Important meeting!” and sat to brood on the egg.

“Not much else I can do,” sighed Mr. Zoom. “Everybody should make time to help somebody else.”

He sat one day, he sat for two days. On the third day, it seemed that the egg was not so comfortable anymore because it rocked and jumped until it cracked into two.

And who came out?

“Welcome!” said Mr. Zoom. It was a baby penguin.

“Papa?” said the baby.

“In a manner of speaking,” answered Mr. Zoom and decided to call him Pinny.

“Southpolehere?” asked Pinny.

“Southpolethere,” answered Mr. Zoom because he wanted little Pinny to know where he belonged. He hung up a new sign on the door to his office that read, “Be back soon,” reserved a ticket to the South Pole on his phone, put Pinny in a baby-carrier and the two flew out that very day.

When they got off the plane, they got onto a sleigh and went straight to the reserve.

There, they saw hundreds of penguins – brooding, swimming in the ocean, or just walking back and forth.

“Southpolehere?” asked little Pinny.

“Basically speaking,” said Mr. Zoom who was looking around but did not recognize anyone.

“Excuse me,” someone ran up to them and said. “I’ve been waiting for you for three days!”

“Mama,” shouted little Pinny and he ran over to his mother. She gave him a great big hug and then introduced herself to Mr. Zoom. “Nice to meet you. I am Penina. I wish to thank you very much, sir. I was so worried. It is lucky that there are still people in the world who are willing to take care of someone other than themselves.”

Little Pinny held on to Mr. Zoom’s hand on the left, and onto Penina on the right and the three took a walk along the shore, gazing at the icebergs humming:

“The tip of the iceberg
is all you can see.
The most important part
lies deep in the sea.”

“The time has come to say goodbye,” said Mr. Zoom, as he spotted the sleigh waiting for him nearby.

“You will never leave, in a manner of speaking,” said little Pinny, who really hadn’t learned how to speak so well yet.

And Mr. Zoom, who already knew how to speak said, “That is true. How can I go and leave the little baby behind. I’m the one who penguined him.”

But Penina said, “Don’t worry, sir. I am here.”

The sleigh-bells chimed impatiently and Mr. Zoom gave Pinny one last hug. “I have two phones,” he said. “Here. Take one. Call me whenever you miss me.”

Then he shook Penina’s hand and got on the sleigh.

As the sleigh slid by Pinny, he called out, “In a manner of speaking, I penguined you! Will you ever come back?”

“Of course,” called Mr. Zoom. “We will all travel from here to there and from there to here.

Because those who are penguined will never part for very long.”

“See you tomorrow,” called little Pinny to the sled as it pulled away.

And Mr. Zoom shouted back in the wind, “Life is an adventure. Let’s make that a goal. We’ll meet again soon. See you at the Pole.”

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