Tommy Bee - Chapter 2 - Lower Middle Grade - Feedback Please
The school holidays seemed to go on forever, it was a shock when Ella suddenly realised, she was back at school this week. Going up a year was scary, but when she found out that Aja would be in her class, she was ecstatic.
‘What’s our first lesson?’ asked Ella.
‘Hope you’ve brought your seeds, its Gardening’ replied Aja.
Ella tapped her school bag, showing they were safely inside.
‘We’ve got Mrs Mumber taking us this year. Poor Mrs Mumber, she’s got a nose like a cucumber,’ joked Ella.
Both girls screamed with laughter and Aja giggled so much that she thought she was going to wet herself.
Entering the classroom they could see Mrs Mumber stood at the front of the class looking very serious. Her long, slightly curved nose, twitched a little. Ella looked at Aja trying not to laugh.
They sat down and Mrs Mumber spoke in a solemn voice.
‘Welcome back to school. I hope you’ve all had a good summer and you are now ready for some hard work. This year is especially important, you will be taking your final exams at the end of the year. Your class work counts towards your final mark.’
She stayed silent for a moment staring intensely. Ella felt like she could see into her mind and tried hard not to think about her nose.
‘I consider this class, and the Bee Keeping class, to be the most important of all the subjects you are studying. As you know, bees are a vital part of our eco system, they pollinate our plants. Understanding their importance, and the importance of gardening will be essential. Growing your own food will be a necessity if our population continues to increase at its current rate.’
Ella considered Mrs Mumber’s statement, she didn’t fully understand it but she’d heard mum and dad talking recently about some food running out at the supermarket.
With a sideways glance, Aja looked at Ella and whispered,
‘Bor… ring.’ Ella knew Aja hated this class, her plants never grew very well, and her marks were often poor.
Mrs Mumber continued, ‘Today we are going to plant a variety of vegetables from seedlings. During the coming year you will tend and care for them until full grown. At the end of the third term, the quality and size of your vegetables will be assessed. Along with a theory test, the combined results will make up your final exam mark.’ Mrs Mumber smiled an encouraging smile, but Aja looked worried.
Everyone in the class had a box with a patch of soil allocated to them. Each box had their name written in large, red, letters on the side. After handing out the seedlings the girls began to plant. Ella took great care to dig her soil over, using a large fork. She then sifted the earth before planting the delicate seedlings. Aja pushed the fragile seedlings into the soil with force, spilling soil onto the workbench. One of her seedlings broke into two. Aja muttered under her breath ‘Bubble-gum.’
‘Aja… pssst,’ whispered Ella through tight lips.
‘Aja, stop. You need to be gentler, watch me.’
Aja nodded but it was too late, Mrs Mumber had caught them talking.
‘Aja, Ella, I do not want to hear any chatter in this class. These classes are part of your exam, there will be no cheating. Both of you report to me after school.’
Both girls bowed their heads and muttered, ‘Sorry Mrs Mumber.’
Ella glanced over at Aja and made a zip sign across her mouth.
Pria grinned at them like a Cheshire cat. She was obviously enjoying seeing them get into trouble.
Aja glanced over for Ella’s approval as she sifted her soil and carefully watered each of her seedlings. Ella smiled, giving a secret nod. Finally, they stuck labels in the soil with the name of each vegetable.
Mrs Mumber called, ‘Tools down, stop what you’re doing. Exam conditions are over, you may now talk.’
They stood back to admire their work.
‘Looking good Aja,’ said Ella.
‘Well, I’ve done exactly the same as you, so I should at least get a pass this year,’ replied Aja.
Pria had been working alongside them, looking down her nose she loudly, ‘What a shame you two have to see Mrs Mumber after school. Aja is cheating the only way you can pass this exam?’
Aja’s eyes filled with tears.
Ella’s jaw tightened, and her fists clenched into a ball. She tried to bite her tongue to stop herself from replying.
Remembering her mother’s saying, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all,’ she thought, easy to say, not so easy to do.
Seeing her friend so hurt, she couldn’t control her temper.
‘Pria you are a nasty spoilt girl, apologise to Aja, immediately.’
Pria held her head up in defiance. Clenching her teeth, she made a face back at Ella.
With eyes of steel, Ella repeated, ‘APOLOGISE, NOW!’
Pria raised her eyes up to the ceiling and muttered under her breath, ‘Sorry.’ It didn’t sound like she really meant it.
‘Come on Aja, lets leave the nasty little witch to herself.’ Ella put her arm around Aja, and they walked out of the class.
What they didn’t see, was Pria lurking around their vegetable patches.
Bee keeping class was next. Both girls loved this class, it was always so much fun. Earlier last year they had set up a hive under the guidance of Mrs Robinson.
‘Welcome back girls,’ said Mrs Robinson, fanning herself with her oversized red hat.
‘The bees have been busy all summer. Now it’s time to harvest some of their scrumptious honey, and prepare the hive for the coming winter’.
Mrs Robinson began the lesson by gently talking to the bees. She had such a soothing voice and her love for the bees showed on her face. Tommy would love her, maybe she could bring Tommy here one day. Using a smoker, she spoke. ‘There, there bees. Time for a little sleep. Wafting the smoke over the bees will help to sedate them, making them slow and sleepy. We have less chance of getting stung that way. Who would like to have ago?’
Ella couldn’t get her hand up quick enough, ‘Me, me, please Miss.’
Ella was so excited. Carefully she wafted the bees with the smoker and then took some of the honeycomb out of the frame from the hive. They had learnt how to do this last year.
‘Well remembered Ella,’ said Mrs Robinson.
‘Creep.’ said Pria.
Pushing others out of the way, she said. ‘Let me have a go.’
Pria wafted the smoker around, and then shook the frame from the hive vigorously. One of the bees flew at Pria, landing on her face. The sound of buzzing grew louder and louder, other bees followed, until a swarm had clustered around her. Pria ran screaming, but the bees followed. She tried swotting them out of her way, but the bees only grew angrier. Mrs Robinsons screwed her face up into a ball, and her eyebrows met in the middle, she was furious.
‘Pria, you’re a silly, silly girl, go and see the school nurse immediately. You could have been badly hurt. I will need to get the bees back to the hive now and calm them down. Class dismissed.’
Ella lingered behind. ‘Mrs Robinson, can I help you? Tommy bee, my favourite bee in our hive, follows me if I hold up a bunch of flowers.’
‘You can try,’ said Mrs Robinson
Ella came back with a large bunch of lavender from the greenhouse.
‘Come bees follow me, time to rest.’
Slowly, each bee followed her back to the hive. Mrs Robinson stood with her mouth open!
‘You obviously have a way with bees Ella, thank you.’
Later that day, Pria appeared with big, red, blotches on her face. She had white cream smeared all over them. She was making a big fuss. Ella couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for her, but her sympathy soon disappeared when Pria said, ‘You’ve done it now. I was supposed to be in a beauty competition tonight and now I can’t go. My mum’s furious. ‘You are going to be very sorry.’