Garth Drills' News
by David Rish
“First I got a slice of brown bread and I put it on a plastic plate,” said Garth Drill.
“Don’t interrupt, please, class,” ordered Mr Cage.
Garth never liked class news sessions and usually tried to avoid being picked. Today his luck had run out.
“I got the butter and I spread it right to the edge of my bread with a plastic knife.”
A big droplet of sweat rolled down his face, plopping onto his desk. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Derek with his fingers in is ears, trying to make his friends laugh. “Then,” Garth continued. “I got the raspberry jam and I spread it right to the edge of my bread too."
“Garth,” warned Mr Cage, “if you don’t mind hurrying this along. There are other people with news.”
“Sorry,” said Garth. He wanted to get it over too. “Then Mummy got a sharp knife because I’m not allowed to use sharp knives in case I cut my finger …” Garth shivered slightly at the thought of blood. … ”and she cut my bread into four triangles, one, two, three, four.”
“Somebody kill me,” moaned Harry from the back of the room.
Garth blushed. He hadn’t wanted to tell his news. He knew himself to be a very boring boy but he was happy spending entire weekends counting clouds or measuring the length of spaghetti.
No, Garth wasn’t unhappy with his life even though he knew that nearly everyone considered him strange. His news never measured up to the stories told by his classmates. He’d never been camping and found a snake in his tent or broken his leg playing super heroes.
Garth didn’t want those things in his life; they were far too alarming. Eventually he came to the end of his news. Everyone sighed with relief, several even cheering when Mr Cage announced a spelling test.
Mr Cage announced that the editor of The Bundeen News was coming into class to talk about newspapers on Monday. Mrs Tungsten had agreed to listen to their news session and to select the best one to be published in the newspaper.
“Don’t pick Garth,” said Johnno. “We don’t want to send Mrs Tungsten to sleep.” Everyone laughed, even Mr Cage.
Walking home, Garth decided that he’d try and surprise everyone by having something really interesting to tell. Then he suddenly noticed that the shoelace of his right shoe wasn’t tied quite evenly. One end was a bit longer than the other. Quickly he stopped and knelt to look. As he did, a meteorite crashed over the top of him, landing on the Bundeen Swimming Centre. A large inflatable whale exploded with a roar and the white vapour of the boiling steam created an amazing waterspout.
Unfortunately Garth didn’t see it. He was busy getting his tape measure to measure the ends of his shoelaces. Yes, one was three millimetres longer than the other. This was possibly the most interesting thing ever to happen. Surely his classmates wouldn’t look down on him on Monday morning. Why, his news might even be chosen by Mrs Tungsten.
After adjusting his shoelace, Garth walked home. He didn’t notice the fire engines, ambulances and police cars racing by. He was too immersed in his interesting piece of news.
When Garth got home Mummy and Daddy were out. Every Friday afternoon they went somewhere together. Today they’d gone to see a film called 'The Many Hues of Brown'. Grandpa was waiting. “How's tricks, youngster,” he said.
Garth told Grandpa his news but Grandpa shook his head. “Shoelaces aren't really exciting to other people. I’m sorry, laddie.”
Disappointed, Garth sat in his dark brown beanbag while Grandpa got him a snack. He knew in his heart that Grandpa was right about the shoelaces but he wasn’t too worried. He had all weekend to find some other interesting news. That was two whole days; forty eight hours, two thousand, eight-hundred and eighty minutes; a hundred and seventy two thousand, eight hundred seconds.
Garth put his feet on the light brown beanbag Mummy usually sat in. He reached for Daddy’s tan beanbag and hugged it to his stomach. “One, two, three beanbags. I’ve got three beanbags,” he said, smiling quietly to himself. “One of them is dark brown, one of them is light brown and one of them is tan. One, two, three.”
“Well, we could go to the park and look at the tawny ducks,” said Daddy.
“Tawny, that’s a special word for a shade of brown, Garth,” said Mummy.
“Tawny,” whispered Garth, happily.
After breakfast, the Drills set off for the park. When they got there, Garth had an announcement. He wasn’t going to look at the tawny ducks, he was going to find some interesting news for Monday.
“Isn’t seeing tawny ducks interesting enough, dear?” asked Mummy.
Garth shook his head. “Please can I?”
Eventually Mummy and Daddy agreed. They walked down to the pond and Garth looked around for some interesting news. Then he noticed that the shoelace in his left shoe was slightly longer on one side. Pulling his measuring tape from his pocket, he measured the difference. Three millimetres, just like the right lace the other day.
Now Garth knew that as Grandpa had said this wasn’t in itself interesting but what was interesting was that yesterday it had been the right shoe with the odd lace, today it was the left, but with exactly the same oddness. Surely that was interesting!
Staring down, Garth didn't notice the bank robber scaling the oak tree above him. He didn't notice her storing her booty in a hole in the oak. He didn't notice her jumping down and racing away. He didn't notice the police arriving and pursuing the robber.
Garth retied his left lace with a sigh of disappointment. He sighed because he knew that this lace coincidence wasn’t news at all.
After the park, Garth had his usual Saturday lunch of baked beans. There were one hundred and ninety-six beans and Garth ate them one by one, contentedly counting as he went.
Nothing particularly newsworthy happened to Garth for the rest of the weekend and on Monday morning, as he packed for school, he only hoped that he wasn’t picked for telling news.
It was going really well, the news telling session. Mr Cage had decided to select only ten students who would try to impress Mrs Tungsten.
Nine children had told their news.
“Now, let’s see who we’ll have for the lucky last,” said Mr Cage.
“Not Garth,” Joe pleaded from the back.
“No, not Garth,” echoed other voices.
Mr Cage and Mrs Tungsten looked at each other.
Garth could tell that his teacher was in a bind. Because of his classmates’ requests to exclude him, Mr Cage had no choice. When he nodded, Garth felt a huge ball of fear shoot up from his stomach and lodge in his throat.
“Come on, Garth, you can do it,” Mr Cage said.
Garth’s mind was a blank. He just wished he was back at home, sitting in his beanbag.
“Go on, Garth,” encouraged Mr Cage.
Beanbags! Sitting in his beanbag!
“I’ve got three beanbags.”
“Oh no,” swept the room.
“One of them is dark brown, one of them is light brown and one of them is tan. Sometimes I lie in one of the beanbags with my feet resting on the second and holding the third on my stomach.”
“Mr Cage, stop him please. We can’t bear this.”
“Sometimes I count my beanbags. One, two, three. Sometimes I count the beans in my beanbags. One, two, three, four …..”
Garth stopped counting. He looked at Mr Cage and Mrs Tungsten who was smiling. “Priceless,” she said, “absolutely priceless.” She reached into her big handbag and took out a bag of toffees.
“There are eighty-six,” she said. “Three per student and one each for your teacher and me.”
It went round the room. Garth didn't take any.
“Please let me have a copy of your news, Garth,” Mrs Tungsten said. “Our readers will be delighted.”
It would have been hard to say who was more surprised: Garth or his classmates. Everyone turned to stare at him. Garth grinned and grinned.