D. B. ENGLISH - THE FIRE DRILL
The Fire Drill.
‘Now then, children,’ said Miss Sibthorpe, clapping her hands loudly, ‘Mrs Pearson has something to say.’
Mikey stopped colouring in the blue cow and sat up straight, like a good boy.
Mrs Pearson nodded to Miss Sibthorpe and cleared her throat. Mikey wondered why Mrs Pearson always made that funny noise before she said anything. He thought it might be because Mrs Pearson was so incredibly old. She was so old, she even knew Jesus and everybody knew Jesus got cross and died a long time ago but Mrs Pearson told them all the time in assembly that Jesus spoke to her and walked with her. She didn’t say where they walked. Maybe he came to school with her but Mikey had never seen him anywhere.
But Mrs Pearson was a grown-up and Mikey was a good boy so he didn’t pick his nose or anything, not like Liam Prentice, he always had his finger up there, he was grotty and he had a silly haircut. Mikey sat up straight and tried to pay attention.
‘Tomorrow morning,’ said Mrs Pearson ‘there will be a fire drill. Your teacher will show you what to do. That is all.’
And that was it. Mrs Pearson said ‘Thank you, Miss Sibthorpe’ to Miss Sibthorpe, Miss Sibthorpe said ‘Thank you, Mrs Pearson’ to Mrs Pearson and Mrs Pearson marched out of the door, the way she always marched everywhere. Mikey wondered if she was a soldier as well as a headmistress. Maybe that was why she always wore dark green clothes that smelled funny.
‘Alright, boys and girls, carry on.’ said Miss Sibthorpe.
Mikey picked up his crayon and started colouring in again. He wondered what a fire drill was and why they were going to have one tomorrow. He thought about asking Miss Sibthorpe but Liam Prentice said that every time you didn’t know something, Miss Sibthorpe wrote it down in a big book and then all the teachers looked at it when the children had gone home and had a good laugh at all the stupid children who didn’t know anything.
Mikey didn’t think that was true because Liam Prentice had also told him that his dad was an astronaut and went to the moon in a spaceship, which was why he only lived with his mum and that when his dad came back, they were all going to move to the moon and live in a moon house. Liam Prentice said a lot of things and he picked his nose a lot so Mikey thought he might not always tell the truth.
Mikey always told the truth because his Daddy was very nice and always told the truth. Mikey wanted to be just like Daddy when he grew up, in about two years’ time, and work in an office and be married to Mummy and have fish fingers for tea every day. Mikey liked fish fingers very much.
‘Now then, children,’ said Miss Sibthorpe, looking at her watch ‘tidying up time!’
That meant it was nearly home time so Mikey put the crayons away and put everything in the colouring-in cupboard like a good boy and went to the pegs to get his coat.
Later that evening, while Mummy was at her yoghurt class and Daddy was watching the news, Mikey sat at the table with his building bricks, making a monster. He wondered if he should ask Daddy what a fire drill was but Daddy was busy. He always watched the news, even though it usually made him cross, like Jesus. Mikey wondered if Daddy knew Jesus too because he often said ‘Jesus, what an idiot’ or sometimes even naughty words whenever he saw people he didn’t like on the news, like the Pry Minister or the football team who Daddy said were a bunch of preemer Donnas. There was a girl called Donna in Miss Sanders’ class but she didn’t play football and Mikey wasn’t sure what preemers were. Mikey knew Jesus played football because when Daddy watched it on the telly he often shouted ‘Jesus, what are you doing?’ Maybe that’s why Jesus got cross and died, because he was so bad at football.
So Mikey decided not to disturb Daddy. He stopped building his monster and had a think. Mummy always said you could solve any problem by thinking and Mummy was nearly as clever as Miss Sibthorpe.
Obviously, a fire drill must be a kind of drill, even Mikey could work that out. Mr Rolls the dentist had a drill. Mikey had been to see Mr Rolls a few weeks before. Mr Rolls wore a white coat because he was a dentist and he was helped by a very pretty lady called Renata who always gave Mikey a sticker. Mikey thought he would marry Renata if he didn’t marry Mummy. But he liked fish fingers more than stickers so maybe he’d marry Mummy first and then marry Renata later.
Mr Rolls used the drill to hurt Mikey’s teeth, which wasn’t very nice at all. Maybe that’s why Renata gave him a sticker, to say sorry for Mr Rolls’ drill. Mr Rolls’ drill was very loud and Mummy said it was to clean Mikey’s teeth. Maybe a fire drill was for cleaning fire.
Except there wasn’t any fire at school. They had radiators to keep warm in winter. The radiators made funny noises sometimes and Mr Rolls’ drill made a noise too. Maybe a fire drill was for making fire noises. Except that didn’t seem right either. He’d have to ask Daddy.
Mikey waited until the news had finished. The nice lady with blonde hair who smiled a lot was telling everybody what the weather was going to be like next week. She must be very clever if she knew what was going to happen before it even happened. Mikey sometimes wondered if she could do magic. Daddy seemed to like the blonde lady too because he always looked at her in that funny way when she was talking.
‘Daddy?’ asked Mikey ‘what’s a drill for?’
‘It’s for making holes in things, son,’ said Daddy ‘now go and brush your teeth and get your jim-jams on, it’s nearly bed time.’
Mikey thought about this. A fire drill must be for making holes in fire. But who’d want to make a hole in fire? He was very tired and it was all too much to think about.
Mikey went upstairs, brushed his teeth, put on his jim-jams and got into bed. He heard Mummy come in from her yoghurt class. She came upstairs to kiss him goodnight, like she always did, which was why she was a very good Mummy and Mikey wanted to marry her and get a kiss goodnight every night and have fish fingers for tea every day.
Mummy came into his room. She was wearing her bright pink leggings and the white vest that was always smelled horribly sweaty but Mikey didn’t mind. She always went to her yoghurt class three times a week, although Mikey didn’t know how anybody could spend two hours eating yoghurt three times a week or why it made you all hot and sweaty but Mummy always came to give him a kiss goodnight so that was fine.
Mummy smiled, kissed him goodnight and said ‘Sleep tight, Mikey.’
‘We’re having a fire drill at school tomorrow, Mummy.’ said Mikey.
‘Then you need lots of lovely rest so go to sleep.’ said Mummy.
The next morning, after Miss Sibthorpe had taken the register and told Liam Prentice to stop putting glue in Sarah Cook’s hair and while Mikey was very carefully practising how to draw letters, all of a sudden there was a loud noise. It was a bit like a police car only much louder.
Miss Sibthorpe clapped her hands twice very quickly.
‘Alright, children, it’s the fire drill. Everybody leave everything where it is and line up at the door.’
Mikey stood in line, next to Alysha Hamad. She was the prettiest girl in the class and Mikey wondered if he should marry her too.
‘Isn’t it exciting?’ whispered Alysha.
‘Yes. I’ve never seen one before. Have you?’ asked Mikey.
‘No. Do you think it’s like a fire engine?’
Mikey hadn’t thought of that. He knew what a fire engine was and he’d seen a fireman, too. He watched Fireman Sam on the telly sometimes. Maybe a fire drill was something firemen used. That made sense.
‘Maybe they’ll let us have a go on it.’ whispered Mikey, taking Alysha’s hand as the class started to file out. She was such a pretty girl, thought Mikey, and she was a lovely colour, like melted chocolate ice-cream. He’d definitely marry her after he’d married Mummy and Renata.
The children walked out to the playground, not running or making noise because everybody knew it was an important thing today. Liam Prentice was picking his nose again, but Mikey and Alysha were both good children so they lined up with all the others and waited to see the fire drill.
The whole school was there, even the little kids from Miss Painton’s class and some of them couldn’t even tie their own shoelaces. They were fidgeting and making noise but they were too little to understand things so it was alright.
The big kids from Miss Ward’s class were there too, looking bored and chatting, which Mikey knew was naughty but they were big kids and Miss Ward was their teacher, not Miss Sibthorpe so he didn’t say anything.
All the teachers started taking the register, which seemed a bit silly since they’d already done that this morning, like they always did. Then Mrs Pearson came out, marching like a soldier, wearing her dark green clothes, carrying a big book. All the teachers went up to Mrs Pearson and they said something and then they went back to their classes. Mrs Pearson made a note in her big book. Mikey wondered when the firemen were going to arrive. The police car sound had stopped now, maybe that meant they were here. Mikey looked around but he couldn’t see a fire engine or any firemen anywhere.
‘Alright, class’ said Miss Sibthorpe, clapping her hands again, ‘we can go back inside now.’ Mikey thought it must get very tiring, being a teacher and having to clap all the time. And why were they going back? They hadn’t seen the fire drill yet.
‘What happened to the fire drill? I didn’t see it.’ said Mikey.
‘Me neither,’ replied Alysha ‘maybe they just had to check everybody’s here so nobody would miss it.’
That made sense so Mikey and the class walked back to the classroom.
‘Alright, children, let’s all sit down in the story corner, it’s reading time’ said Miss Sibthorpe.
Mikey was very confused. Mrs Pearson had said they’d see a fire drill today and they hadn’t seen anything. That wasn’t fair. But then, teachers were grown-ups and they always said and did silly things that Mikey didn’t understand. He wanted to ask Miss Sibthorpe about it but he didn’t want her to write it down in the big book and have all the teachers laugh about it after the kids had all gone home.
Anyway, Miss Sibthorpe had picked up The Very Hungry Caterpillar and that was Mikey’s favourite book so he sat up straight like a good boy and listened carefully. He’d have to ask Daddy about it after the news tonight.
2/6/2023 07:00:50 am
What an incredibly good story! The characterisation, the plot, the character development, it's all so brilliant, I could almost cry. This D B English fellow must be a genius. Surely, he deserves far more recognition, fame and fortune, and all the trappings of success. Somebody offer this wonderful writer a million-dollr contract immediately!
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