Chapter Seven – A little help from my friend

Posted on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Mrs. Mitchell even gave us a nice surprise.  She said that tomorrow Cathy would be allowed to bring her rabbit to class for the whole month and students who received happy faces on their weekly performance sheets would be allowed to take it home for the weekend, if their parents approved.

Mrs. Mitchell explained that each day of the week we would receive either a smiley face or a frowning face, depending on how we behaved in class that day.  It turned out harder than I thought NOT to get a frowning face.

Happy faces?  Didn’t we get those in Grade 2?  I think Mrs. Mitchell was living in the dark ages.  Oh well, I decided the best thing to do was nod and pretend like everything was wonderful.

Lucy got one for giggling during science and Mark got one for coughing too loud while Mrs. Mitchell was reading to us.  I didn’t think anyone would end up with five smiling faces by the end of the week.

Mrs. Mitchell went on to tell us all about rabbits. Rabbits are herbivores.  That means they only eat plants.  They like hay and dried grass and they especially like carrots, celery, lettuce and apples.  They also need something to chew on like a piece of log, so they can keep their teeth trimmed down.

The cage had to be cleaned out everyday and we were supposed to wear rubber gloves.  All the soiled paper and hay had to be removed and then we would spray disinfectant in the cage and wipe it down.  It didn’t sound all that fun after all.  But at least we would be able to hold the rabbit when we took it out.

“Always wash your hands after petting, holding, or cleaning” Mrs. Mitchell went on.  “Don’t ever kiss the rabbit, or tease him and never ever hit him”

All I could think about was Gabe and how easy it was probably going to be to look after an angel dog. So far it was more like he was looking after me.  I guess that was his job.

If I had a real dog, of course I never would, but if I did, I would have to brush him and feed him, take him for walks and clean up after him, but I could also wrestle with him and teach him tricks that I could show other people.

I guess I was smiling too much, thinking about Gabe, because all of a sudden I heard my name.

“And what is so funny Trevor?  Am I boring you?   Do you know everything there is to know on rabbits?  Do you think cleaning out a rabbit cage is funny?”

“No Ma’am” I blurted out in surprise. “I was just…” But how could I tell her what I was thinking.

“Well I guess you have just volunteered to be the first one to clean out the cage.  Now, everyone get out your Math.  We will have a pop quiz!”

Some kids groaned and got frowning faces.

The rest of the day was quiet, until last period, Language Learning.  Mrs. Mitchell was reading us a book called “The Indian In the Cupboard,” finally something good.  I had read the book, and seen the movie.

As she read to us she walked up and down each aisle. When she got near my desk, I noticed that Gabe’s tail was sticking out from underneath.  I wasn’t sure if she would be able to feel his tail when she walked by, or if her foot would slide through it. I didn’t want to take any chances.  But the more I tried to grab it, and move it, the more he wagged it up and down.

When she reached my desk she stopped and read a couple of sentences. She started to walk again.  I closed my eyes and scrunched up my shoulders.

Well I guess Gabe can only be invisible in certain ways. She stepped forward and her foot caught his tail. Mrs. Mitchell screamed in surprise as she lost her balance and began hopping forward.

She flung her book across the room and it hit the whiteboard with a thunk.  She started to fall to the right and then leaned to the left, placing her foot in the paper-recycling basket.  Mrs. Mitchell then pulled the basket off her foot and landed on her bottom. The basket flew over our heads and papers snowed down around us.

A few kids snorted behind their hands, but most of us kept quiet.

Groaning she slowly stood, smoothed out her skirt, and ran her hands over her head, patting down the stray hairs.  As the room started to hum with exited whispers the final bell rang.

“Class dismissed,” her voice cracked as she flopped into her chair like a limp rag.

At supper Dad told us all about his new job and how great it was to be working in a small town.  I have to admit, it was good to have Dad home for supper.  He hardly ever made it home on time in the city, and we usually ended up eating without him.

“So Trevor, how was your first day?” he asked, as he tickled Tara in her high chair.

Tara squirmed and giggled.  She looked down, pointed and said “doggy” and threw some bread at Gabe.

“What the heck has gotten into her?  Why is she saying doggy?” Dad looked at mom, raising his eyebrows.

“I don’t know John, it’s a new word she has learned and I guess she likes it.  Maybe she heard it on TV or something”

“Dad,” I said.  I had to interrupt him; he WAS talking to me first.

“You won’t believe this, but school was great.  Well sort of great, well, not if you count Mrs. Mitchell.”

“Who?”

“Mrs. Mitchell, my new teacher.  She’s really old and she’s real mean.”

I wanted to tell Dad how awful she was, but he looked so happy that I skipped it.  When I offered to do the dishes after supper Mom and Dad both felt my head to see if I was still sick.

It felt good to be helping out, and after all I had made a promise to be better. Besides Gabe did most of the work, licking off the plates before I put them in the dishwasher.  He even dragged the garbage bag outside after I bundled it all up for him.

The next morning Gabe ran behind the school bus again.  I think it was for the best now that I knew how much trouble his tail could cause.  He didn’t make it to school in time for the bell, but I wasn’t worried.

Cathy brought her rabbit and everyone gathered around. It was in a wire cage, with a high, blue plastic floor. Paper and wood shavings were scattered on the bottom, and a long glass water bottle, with a spout, hung upside down attached to one of the wire sides.

Beside a chewed and bumpy log sat the rabbit munching on a piece of apple.  He didn’t look scared at all, even though everyone was peering in on him.  He was white with long black ears.  Tiny thin whiskers poked out from beside a little twitching nose and black spots were splattered all over his body.

When Mrs. Mitchell came in we all ran back to our desks so we wouldn’t get any frowning faces.  It would be cool to take him home.

I took my lunch out of my knapsack and crammed it into my desk. I put away my spelling notebook, and shoved my summer essay way to the back.

But where was my Math homework?  My hands started to shake.  This was definitely going to earn me a frowning face and who knows what else.  Leslie said Mrs. Mitchell went crazy when someone forgot their homework.

I must have looked pretty scared because when I glanced over at Leslie, she shrugged her shoulders and mouthed “what?”

“I forgot my homework.”

Math wasn’t until third period so I was going to have to sweat it out for the next hour and a half.

Leslie was still staring at me with that, “Oh no, poor you,” kind of look, when I saw Gabe over her shoulder.  He was standing a few feet from the window.  Then I got the most brilliant idea.

I could get Gabe to go back home and get my homework.  The problem was how to tell him.

Mrs. Mitchell would never let me go out to the washroom.   I thought about it for a while.  Maybe if I coughed loud enough she would let me go get a drink.  Then I could run outside and talk to Gabe.

Coughing was not such an easy thing to fake.  I covered my mouth and let out a little annoying “a-hemm”.   I put my heart into it.  By the time Mrs. Mitchell spoke to me, I really did have a sore throat and needed a drink.

“I’m sorry Trevor,” was her response when I asked her, “but we just got into the classroom.  You may however, open a window and get some fresh air.”

I coughed my way over to the window realizing this was my chance.  If Gabe was right there I could whisper to him.

“Get homework,” was all I said as quietly as possible, hoping that he understood and that the window would still be open when he got back.  Otherwise how was he going to get it inside?  Come to think of it, how was he going to get in our house?

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