Reader Message: Around the World

Prompt: What if Bowman got confused about the phrase “around the world”, and Jacob realised Bowman didn’t know that the Earth is round, not flat, and Jacob had to try and both to explain and convince his incredulous lil buddy.

This email got buried in my inbox a little bit, but thank you so much for sending it in! I had fun pondering how much the wood sprites of Wellwood would actually know about the round earth and solar system and such. My guess is there are a few that do actually know about how that works, to a degree, and could even recreate the calculations that Eratosthenes computed to find the circumference of the earth.

Bowman, however, is not a scholarly sprite. If there are sprites studying astronomy, he’s not among them.

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“What does that mean?”

Jacob paused in his walking to glance to the side. Bowman perched on the end of a long, spindly branch, and even his tiny weight barely disturbed it. A focused curiosity fixed on Jacob. “Which part?”

Bowman held up a hand and waved it in a circular gesture. “You said ‘around the world’. What does that mean? Is it just another human thing?”

“Oh,” Jacob turned to address the sprite fully, knowing he had let slip another phrase that he took for granted. For someone four inches tall who had never left his single forest before, Bowman didn’t necessarily have a reason to know. “Well, the earth is round, Bowman, like a … berry, or–”

“Or the moon?” Bowman cut him off with an amused smirk. “I know what round means, giant.”

Jacob grinned. “Yeah. Like how the moon is round. But the earth is way bigger than the moon and it takes a long time for anyone to get all the way around it.”

Bowman contemplated that for a long pause. He’d perched right at Jacob’s eye level, so Jacob could see the journey of realization on Bowman’s face as he tried to reconcile with what he knew. Sunrise and sunset were important parts of a wood sprite’s day, and Jacob wondered how Bowman had viewed them before.

Verdant green wings twitched in annoyance. “Well I almost never pay attention to the sky charts or anything like that,” Bowman dismissed. “Not like I want to fly that far.”

Jacob nudged at the branch so that it swayed slightly. “I know that’s a lie, you’d fly all the way around it if you could.”

“Oh, I know I could,” Bowman boasted. His wings fluttered to life and he dove off the branch to glide ahead of Jacob. “But if it’s so hard for humans to do it, I wouldn’t want to leave you behind.”

“Thanks, dude,” Jacob called after him, resuming his walk.

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