The family were heading north on summer holidays in their orange Kombi. They stopped at a fruit stall beside the highway.
The little boy waited in the car and read his book while the others bought fruit from a man in a turban.
His teenaged brother came back with a large watermelon.
‘I don’t like watermelon,’ said the little boy.
‘I know,’ said his brother. He got a texta out of his bag and painted a face on the watermelon, then put it up on top of all the stuff at the back.
The little boy felt like something was watching him, but when he complained to his parents about the watermelon, they told him to stop being silly.
It was only when the Kombi braked suddenly a couple of hours later, and the watermelon hit him in the back of the head, that his brother was forced by their parents to bury it down lower.
‘It won’t be able to see anything down there,’ he protested. His mother told him he was being ridiculous.
The little boy relaxed – he almost forgot about the watermelon.
Later in the trip, the parents were making dinner and the boys were swimming when the older one saw something alarming. He came running over to the BBQ, water dripping everywhere.
‘Stop!’ he shouted.
His father had a knife raised above the watermelon.
‘That’s my watermelon!’ The older boy grabbed it.
‘How do you figure that? Does it have your name on it?’
‘I bought it with my pocket money. It’s my watermelon.’
His father shrugged and cut a mango instead.
‘You’re being selfish,’ said his mother.
‘No I’m not, I’m being factual,’ said the teenager.
As it turned out, the watermelon survived the entire holiday and back home again, where it took up residence on a special cushion in pride of place in the elder brother’s room.
One day the little boy sneaked a look behind the door and saw his brother on his knees, worshipping the watermelon.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Praying,’ said his brother.
‘To the watermelon?’
‘It’s not an ordinary watermelon. This is an ancient watermelon god.’
‘No it isn’t.’
‘Yes it is.’
‘This watermelon is telepathic. It also knows what you’re thinking.’
He closed his eyes and touched the watermelon with both hands, communing with it. ‘Right now, you’re thinking about… the watermelon god.’
It was true!
After that, the little boy steered well clear of his brother’s room, but the watermelon god somehow became mobile. He found it in his toy box and once in his tree house.
He became quite frightened of it, and started having nightmares about watermelons with evil, grinning faces.
His brother told him the watermelon god could predict the future.
Watermelons were all going to be sacred, like Indian cows. The penalty for eating one would be death.
Despite himself, the little boy had a question for the watermelon god. ‘What’s going to happen to me, in the future?’
His brother placed his hands on the sacred fruit and closed his eyes, then turned to the little boy with a serious expression.
‘Nothing good,’ he said.
Their father thought the watermelon god was hilarious, and didn’t intervene, but their mother grew increasingly concerned, especially when the teenaged boy started taking his watermelon to school to ‘look after it’.
The fame of the watermelon god spread, but it also got a little battered from all the handling.
Then it began to smell.
One day the sacred fruit was sitting unattended on its cushion when the boys’ mother noticed it was going brown from one end.
‘That’s it!’ she said, and picked it up.
Both boys came running as she carried it outside.
The little boy looked on as his big brother and his mother played tug of war with the watermelon god.
Suddenly it exploded, and coated them both with disgusting fermented pink goo.
‘What have you done?’ howled the teenager.
The little boy was overwhelmed with joy.
Bet that old watermelon god didn’t see that coming! he thought to himself.