Show And Tell

Ben waited and fidgeted while he waited and the other kid was taking a long time. Maybe he wasn’t taking a long time. Maybe that wasn’t right. But he should have been finished by now. Or finishing. And he wasn’t finishing. He was still talking and the class were still listening. He was talking about the holiday he had been on with his mum and dad and sister to the Northern Territory. He was talking about seeing crocodiles and camels and colourful fish in the water through a glass bottom boat.

He was talking about seeing stockmen cracking whips and riding horses and when his dad drove the car really fast along the long straight highway because there were no other cars around and that’s what you’re allowed to do in the Northern Territory. He talked about the Aboriginal dancing and when an old man told them stories from the Dreaming. The stories this old man told sounded better than the stories Miss Stoij had read out when the class was studying the Dreaming earlier in the year. And being shown the actual rocks and rivers and trees from the stories sounded so much better than being shown drawings of rocks and rivers and trees. And drawing your own drawings of those things wasn’t very good either. Ben wondered whether Miss Stoij really understood what it was all about. She didn’t seem to be very good at telling stories. She shouted when she became angry. Not for long, but she did shout. She turned red too. Ben’s uncle was good at telling stories. He always told stories about the time when he was in a submarine and when he used to be a stunt driver. They were good stories and Ben liked to hear them. The old Aboriginal man in Damian’s show and tell about his Kakadu holiday sounded like he was good at telling stories too. Ben felt jealous. His family didn’t go on holidays. His dad had to work. He believed that he would have got more out of a holiday like that than a spoilt kid like Damian would. Kids like Damian expected nice things to happen and when they did they didn’t really enjoy them very much because they knew they were going to happen anyway. Ben wondered if Damian ever got a surprise. He decided that Damian and kids like him probably got whatever they want just because they asked for it. And that wasn’t fair.

It would have been fairer if Ben had the chance to do and see the things Damian and those other kids did. But that would never happen. Life was boring. Nothing ever happened. Ben was at home all the time. He was bored and watching TV and being looked after by the lady who lived next door or by his uncle sometimes. Uncle Sammy didn’t look after him very much but when he did it was fun. They would pretend they were pirates of play spy games or build something. They would watch war movies on TV and Uncle Sammy would explain what was happening and tell Ben stories about when he was in the wars. The lady next door wasn’t fun. She never let Ben do anything. She served him boring sandwiches on brown bread and they were floppy and tasted bad and Ben hated eating them. And that’s what Ben did during the school holidays instead of speeding along the long straight highway in the Northern Territory and counting kangaroos.

And then it was Ben’s turn. He got up and walked to the blackboard and stood at the end of the room. He looked at the class took away the clothe he had covered his show and tell object with. “This,” said Ben, “is my pet rock. I decorated it with my uncle. His name is Siegfried. He’s named after the Siegfried Line, from World War Two.”

Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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