In the afternoon, as promised, Mrs. Pennyfeather gave us our treat.
However, there was also a task to it. If we chose to do, for the afternoon, as I did, the aspect of craft and design, we were to build a creature or a car that we would be able to lead along by a simple mechanism; the art part of the afternoon was freer, but it would always involve drawing, something that I could not do, even if I wanted to try. I watched Katherine and Chloe gather large slabs of coloured A3 paper out the art-cupboard, shortly followed by the art supplies. A rainbow of colours were spread across their table, as pencils, chalk, paints and various other mediums, all manner of wonderful things to play with that created beauty were pulled out of cases and boxes.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t for me to play- and I had to keep my eyes open in the hubbub of the classroom.
It turned out to be a very creative afternoon. I, alone on my table, had managed to create a metallic-coated dog, a shining silver knight, but I was struggling with the mechanics behind the creativity. It seemed willing to mock me, as no sooner had I managed to get the wheels moving a couple of centimetres towards me, the elastic bands that were holding the lines together would snap. Other times, I would position thicker bands, but those stopped the wheels from turning.
Across the classroom, others had made progress too. Katherine and her girls were just unfurling their cross-media-produced painting, which, although abstract, was a good impression of a computer-game character, a princess of sorts. I had known, before her DS had ‘vanished’, that Katherine was a great player of Gameboy stuff and assortments like Zelda and Mario games.
Mrs. Pennyfeather advanced back into my line of sight.
“I’m afraid to stop all this creativity, but we’ve run out of time today.” She pointed to the clock, set on 3pm. “Homework tonight is to try and finish these pieces. I might even consider putting some of these out in the corridor.”
There were a mix of cries of “yes!” and “oh no,” as each student showed whether they were modest of shy. Primary school was a great way to pick out the future traits of certain people.
“I’ll clear some of the utensils away, if you put your artwork on the table at the back and put unused paper into the spare paper drawer. Come on, nobody is going home until this room is clean.”
There were grumbles as Mrs. Pennyfeather began to make her way around the classroom with a dustpan and brush, and the bin, shooing the students. As I was the ‘table at the back’, I grabbed a couple of the sparkly silver paint pots and dodged out the way as the turmoil of tired ten-and-eleven-year-olds dragged their way over.
Once I had replaced the pots in one of the art-cupboards, I crept into our private year-library next door.
When it was clear that the clatter was over and everyone was busy in the cloakroom attending to their outdoor shoes, I snuck back into main classroom again.
There, I was very surprised to see, even with Mrs. Pennyfeather gone, four students had remained behind to tidy their belongings. More surprising than that was the fact that Jason and Mark were two of the remaining. Mechanics too, their bright red motorcar was being given another coat of paint, though, by the looks of it, more paint was going on the boys, not the car.
Behind them, Chloe was busy gathering her bag together, shooting them looks of disgust.
Amidst their chuckling was the sound of curtains being torn. A light crash came from the library.
I rushed back to see that Helena had crept in when my back was turned. She sat, amongst a bundle of the library curtains, scissors in her hand, sobbing. She did not look up as I advanced, but jumped, a shock rushing through her body, when I put a hand upon her shoulder.
“Helena, what happened?”