Holly stared in wonder at the weeping adult in front of her. She looked about the room and the windows to see if anyone else was seeing what she was seeing. There was no one. Squeals and laughter called from the playground. A distant tonk of plastic bat on tennis ball had Holly thinking for a second of the cricket game she was missing. She turned back to her teacher, who was now drying her eyes. “Miss Harvey?” said Holly. “Are you all right?”
Miss Harvey sniffed, raised her head, and composed herself. “Holly,” she said, in a serious voice Holly had never heard her use, “I’m glad you enjoy writing. You are good at it. But you should consider how you use your talent. Mocking someone may seem clever, or fun, but it can be terribly hurtful. And exposing embarrassing truths about others actually reveals more about your character. I’d like you to think about that. Until you can find a kinder way to write, perhaps you should stick to playing cricket.” She closed Holly’s notebook and handed it to her. “Off you go.” Holly, bewildered, took the book and left the classroom.
After the lunch break (which Holly spent on the school cricket field, punishing Lachlan Spencer’s sloppy bowling with an onslaught of cut shots and cover drives), Miss Harvey was distracted and aloof. The Friday afternoon art lesson, which was usually the highlight of the school week, today consisted of the students drawing pictures of whatever they wanted for forty minutes while Miss Harvey stared blankly out the window. The bell rang, and Miss Harvey mumbled, “Have a good weekend.”
Monday morning, after being denied a day off by her mother (despite an Oscar-worthy performance of coughs and sniffs and sore tummy moans), Holly entered her classroom with trepidation. She saw colourful steamers adorning the far wall, above a detailed diorama featuring a Colosseum, an aqueduct and an ancient battle—apparently this term’s history subject was going to be the Roman empire. On the interactive whiteboard, a Youtube video of cats falling off things played to the accompaniment of cheerful music. At the front of the room, Miss Harvey sat at her desk, adding the final touches to the day’s lesson preparations. She wore a pink bow in her hair, and matching lipstick. Her silver hoop earrings swayed when she turned her head. “Good morning, Holly,” she said with a smile. “Good morning, Summer.”
“Excuse me,” said Summer, trying to get past. Holly realised she was blocking the doorway.
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