By Amani Gunawardana
Copyright © 2017 Amani Gunawardana
All rights reserved.
Distributed by Shakespir
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Danushi bit her fingernails as she watched the clock tick over, dreading every second that went by. A creepy visitor would soon enter the classroom and Danushi was terrified. Why didn’t she stay at home and help Mum clean the garage? Why didn’t she eat a large bowl of dog food and peanut butter to bring on a stomach ache? Why didn’t she ask Mrs Pepper, the school principal, if she could clean chewing gum off tables? Danushi wished to be anywhere in the world but her classroom. Now it was too late.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
Danushi’s teacher, Mr Tran, rang his little golden bell as the grade placed their hands on their head.
‘Okay class, it’s time for our special visitors,’ said Mr Tran, with a grin. ‘Please sit in a large circle on the floor.’
Danushi’s classmates sprinted towards the carpet, but Danushi took her time. She put away her pencil, her eraser and ruler.
‘Danushi, please hurry up,’ said Mr Tran, tapping his watch. Danushi nodded and quickly joined the rest of the grade.
Before Mr Tran could recite the five times table song, the visitor knocked at the classroom door.
Danushi stared at the figure behind the glass door. What were they going to do? What or who did they bring along with them? Was her entire grade going to be in trouble?
A tall lady wearing a pair of blue jeans and a grey shirt entered the classroom. She looked like any other ordinary person. She brought along two boxes, which she carefully placed on a nearby table.
‘Class, I would like you to welcome Jan, from Creepy World,’ said Mr Tran, clapping his hands furiously. Many students who were eager to see what was inside the box started clapping too, with some kneeling on the carpet and others standing up to get a better view.
Mr Tran pointed at his bottom and then waved his finger from side to side, which meant that everyone had to remain seated on floor.
Jan wrote her name on the whiteboard and turned around to face the class.
‘Hello everyone, I’m here to show you my pet carpet python, Rex. I hope you’re all excited, as you’ll get a chance to hold him today.’
Danushi squirmed on the carpet. Today, she would be eaten alive.
The class gasped when Jan took Rex out of the box and draped it around her shoulders, like a long woollen scarf. Jan explained how carpet pythons only ate small mammals and birds, and how people often kept them as pets.
Danushi felt her pulse return to a steady pace. The python wouldn’t eat her, although she wasn’t sure about patting it, let alone holding it.
Screech! Screech! Screech! Screech! Screech!
Danushi covered her ears with the palm of her hands. What other creepy creatures did Jan have in the other box? It sounded like two cats fighting over a sardine treat. Danushi could feel her pulse racing again. Some students covered their entire faces with their school hats, to help keep out the noise.
‘Jan’s brought a scary animal,’ shouted Min, sitting across from Danushi.
‘Quick, we have to run out of the classroom,’ shouted Bill.
Mr Tran put his fingers over his lips to keep everyone quiet.
It didn’t work. He tried shouting over the noise, although no-one could hear him.
Finally, Mr Tran stood up and started dancing like a chicken in the middle of the classroom floor, strutting around pretending to eat seeds off the ground.
The grade burst into laughter, ignoring the screeching noise which echoed around the classroom.
Jan frantically searched her pocket, finally taking out a small object.
‘Sorry, my phone should be switched off,’ she said, pressing some buttons.
The class laughed even louder. So did Mr Tran, who wiped away a tear with his handkerchief.
Once the class had settled down, Jan walked over to the large box and took out Rex.
‘Who would like to be the first person to hold Rex?’ said Jan, looking around the classroom for a volunteer.
Bill put up his hand. He wasn’t cared at all. In fact, he told the whole class how his aunty kept a pet python too. Min was next, but she only stroked Rex gently, along with some of the other children in the grade.
‘What about you Danushi, would you like to hold Rex?’ asked Mr Tran.
Danushi closed her eyes, hoping to force out some courage from her body.
‘Okay, I’ll have a turn,’ she said.
Jan placed Rex around Danushi, making sure to stay close by. Danushi felt a strong weight on her shoulders. Rex felt warm and dry, not slimy as she thought snakes would be. After a few minutes, Jan lifted Rex off Danushi’s shoulders and returned him into the box.
Jan stayed for another ten minutes, answering any questions the class had about Rex. Danushi could feel her cheeks getting warmer. She had achieved something great.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
Mr Tran rang his bell again and asked the grade to wash their hands before they ate their snack.
Danushi took a bite of her crunchy apple, watching Mr Tran and Jan chatting and pointing at posters of reptiles around the classroom. Jan handed Mr Tran a handful of pamphlets and some colouring pictures he could hand out to the grade.
Danushi took another bite when Mr Tran rang his bell for a third time that morning.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
The grade stopped eating and placed their hands on their head.
‘Class, I have some special news. Jan has been kind enough to offer you all a snake to take home,’ said Mr Tran.
The grade started whispering in excitement, when Mr Tran rang his bell once again to draw their attention.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
‘I’m not finished,’ said Mr Tran, with a stern look.
The grade put their hands on their heads.
‘One at a time, please come up and put your hand into the box, for a lucky dip snake,’ said Mr Tran.
Danushi dropped her apple onto the table as her mouth formed a capital ‘O’. She wasn’t allowed any pets at home and certainly not a pet snake. She had only held a snake that day and she certainly didn’t want one as a pet.
Min’s hand shot up into the air.
‘Mr Tran, I’m not allowed to have a snake,’ said Min.
‘Neither am I, ‘said a few other voices in the room.
Mr Tran smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
‘If you don’t want to keep it, you can always eat it.’
The class shrieked in horror as Jan brought the box onto the floor.
‘Danushi, you can go first, since you’re sitting so quietly,’ said Mr Tran.
Danushi remained frozen unable to think of what to say. Finally, she opened her mouth, which felt so dry that Danushi thought her tongue was about to fall out.
‘Err…um… I don’t think I should,’ stuttered Danushi, gripping the edge of her seat.
‘Come on, I promise they won’t bite,’ said Mr Tran, with a chuckle.
Danushi wrapped her feet around the chair’s legs.
‘It’s all a joke,’ whispered Bill, who was seated next to Danushi. ‘Don’t worry, Danushi; it must be a toy snake or something.’
Danushi felt her fingers and legs ease its grip. Mr Tran wouldn’t hurt the students in his grade, would he? Although, she did forget to bring in her excursion form last week and Mr Tran had to telephone Danushi’s mum to bring it to school. And as for Jan, she didn’t think it was a good idea to give children real snakes, although she kept one herself?
Danushi shook her head, trying to get rid of any crazy ideas that were swimming around in her mind. She stood up slowly from her seat and walked over to the box. She pulled up her sleeve and put her hand inside.
‘AHHHH!’ shouted Danushi.
‘AAHHHH!’ shouted the whole grade.
‘Help, it’s got me!’ shouted Danushi, trying to yank her arm away from the box.
‘Help her!’ shouted Bill.
‘Call the police!’ shouted Min.
‘Don’t worry, she’s got everything under control,’ said Mr Tran, flicking through a pamphlet, ignoring Danushi’s pleas.
Danushi put her other hand into the box and started tugging back and forth, nearly knocking over the box. After the third attempt, she pulled out a large snake, and bit off its head.
With a mouthful of snake head, Danushi turned around, dangling the rest of the snake’s body in one hand.
‘Delicious!’ she said, holding up a green and yellow jelly python.