Sophie never stopped talking. She even sleep talked. It was as if someone turned her onto talk mode and broke the switch. Actually, there was no switch. No "Off" at all.
Lewis was ten and his parents still wondered when he would start talking. Lewis preferred to listen. He sat behind Sophie in class and listened to her. Her constant chatter never annoyed him. He thought she was funny. Now and then he said something to her such as, "Uh-huh" or "Wow" and when he felt like making a big effort he might even say, "What happened next?" or "Did you really?"
They were both clever kids in their own ways. Fortunately for Lewis, he showed how clever he was in his schoolwork. Unfortunately for Sophie, she was too busy talking, (and being sent to the corner, to the office, and to the Principal) to get much work done.
One Monday afternoon, when it was Lewis' turn on message delivery duty, and Sophie had spent twenty minutes writing, "I will be quiet in class" over and over on the whiteboard, their teacher sent them both out together to run a couple of errands.
On the way, Sophie told Lewis about the camping trip she'd been on in the weekend. She was up to the part where her dad taught her to make a bivouac when Mr Allington, the teacher for the juniors, ran past. He was wringing his hands and muttering, "Stupid, stupid computer. How can I have lost all that work?"
Sophie stood still, watching him pass. "Mr Allington will be gone for a while. Let's teach his class some camping lessons." She grabbed Lewis by the arm and dragged him off to the juniors’ classroom. Lewis looked on in amazement as she waltzed into the room and launched straight into teacher mode.
"Right children, pens down! You boys! Stop chasing each other! Mr Allington has asked me and Lewis to take you on a mini expedition. What we need are the painting mats, string, scissors and the hockey sticks."
At this point, Lewis made his first serious mistake at school. He thought, “Why not? This could be fun.” With the help of Jackson, the junior class leader for the day, he found the stuff, put it in a big plastic box and gave it to two kids to carry. After all, he was the senior—he shouldn't need to do any heavy work himself!
The juniors were in two lines and Sophie was telling them they were going on a survival trip by train. The children needed to help be the train and follow her. Lewis was to bring up the rear. They chugged out of the door, turned to the right, avoiding any other classrooms, and headed straight for the trees at the edge of the sports field. Lewis started making train noises too, getting into the swing of it.
When they reached the trees, Sophie got the children to sit in a semi-circle and began telling them how to survive in the bush. Lewis didn't think you needed to worry about lions that might have escaped from the zoo when you were lost in the bush. There wasn't even a zoo in their town, but he could tell her story about being torn to shreds made a huge impact on the five-year-olds. He sat by Marie, who'd only started school that week. She looked close to tears. He held her hand and said, “Don't worry, you’re safe.” He gave Sophie a look which meant, “No more lions—RIGHT NOW.” She stopped mid-sentence as the lion was ready to tear some poor child's arm off, and told the children, “I'm only kidding. There're no lions in the bush.” All the children except a few boys let out an enormous sigh of relief.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish