In The Holidays

Entry by: JC

3rd July 2015
In the Holidays

Zoe scowled down at the lined paper in front of her. I hate this topic! Don’t teachers have any imagination? Since kinder we’ve begun every single term writing about what we did in the holidays. When I’m dictator of the world I’ll ban teachers from ever giving that topic again!

‘Not still staring at your page?’

Zoe looked up at Ms Bellamy. Her teacher smiled. ‘There must be something you’d like to tell us.’

‘Whatever I say you’ll already have read a dozen times. How can you bear all the trips to the cinema and visits to Grandma?’

Ms Bellamy winked. ‘Don’t worry about me, Zoe. I enjoy reading everyone’s work. You all have different ways of expressing yourselves.’

Yeah right, thought Zoe. Like there are so many ways to say: I went to the footy or my friend came round to play Nintendo. You’ve got to be bored stiff reading that stuff over and over. Still, it’s your own fault for giving us this boring topic.

Oblivious of Zoe’s thoughts, Olivia Bellamy wandered around the room, reading over shoulders and murmuring comments to this student and that. In truth she was only half focused on the task. Her mind kept drifting back to her own holiday and then flinching at the memory.

A loud beeping made her jump. A few heads turned her way as she hurried to the intercom on the wall but the students were used to such interruptions and no one noticed their teacher’s pallor or the tremble in her hand as she reached for the phone.

‘Yes?’ she whispered into the handset.

‘Olivia, sorry to disturb your class.’ It was the principal’s voice. ‘I’m sending the AP over to supervise for a while. As soon as she arrives please come straight to my office. I have an Inspector Stanley here who wants to speak to you.’

No. This couldn’t be happening.


‘Yes, Andrew,’ she managed to croak. ‘I’ll be right over.’

A grey-haired tornado flung open the door and swept to the front of the room.

‘Good morning, grade five.’

‘Good mawwning, Ms Cranshaw.’

‘I’m going to be taking you for a while. All busy writing, I see. Excellent. And the topic? What I Did In the Holidays? Marvellous! My favourite. Zoe Woodcock, you look like you’ve just sucked on a lemon!’

Drawing breath for the first time, the assistant principal looked across at Olivia, still standing by the intercom. She waved shooing fingers at her. ‘Off you go, Ms Bellamy. Everything’s under control here.’

Olivia stumbled out of the room, her mind spinning. An inspector? My God. Her nightmare had come true. They’d found out. But how? She shook her head. They had their ways. Her hands clenched into fists. She’d never done anything like this before but that wouldn’t matter to them. They wouldn’t be interested in her explanation. They wouldn’t care how events in her holiday had conspired to bring her to this point. Her teaching career, which had barely started, was over.

In the outer office the secretary's half smile held a question but Olivia's gaze was on the principal’s door. It was closed. That only happened for heavy meetings. She raised knuckles, already white, and knocked.

The door opened. ‘Come in, Olivia. Take a seat.’

Andrew closed the door behind her as she walked to the tiny round table normally used as a repository for excess paperwork. A tall man, already seated, half rose.

‘Olivia Bellamy?’

Numbly she nodded, before collapsing into an empty chair.

He retook his seat. ‘I’m here about what you did in the holidays.’

She opened her mouth but no words came out.

‘I’ve been talking to your principal and he agrees this is something the community should know about. I will be addressing your school assembly tomorrow.

She gasped and turned to Andrew. He nodded solemnly. ‘People should be aware of the kind of teachers we have at our school.’

Olivia stared from one to the other. Surely they weren’t going to announce it.

The inspector cleared his throat. ‘Of course, you don’t know me. My son, William Stanley, was the boy you saved at the beach. I told him not to take the dinghy out without the oars, but he knew better.’

She blinked and remembered. It had happened ages ago and was nothing. She’d been floating in the swell, buoyed by the water and the indescribable feeling of being at the start of the holidays when she’d heard a child’s voice crying out behind her. No one at the beach paid any attention. Lots of kids were splashing and yelling and this boy was in a dingy. He seemed fine. All the same she decided to swim out and check that everything was all right. As she stroked towards the bobbing boat it drifted further out and she could see the child trying and failing to reach over the side and paddle it back with his hands. Olivia spotted a rope hanging off the front end and, putting on a spurt, managed to catch it.

‘I’ve got you,’ she said.

The boy sat stiffly, wide-eyed and in shock.

‘Don’t worry. You’ve had a fright but it’s over now. What’s your name?’

He looked at her. ‘Anthony.’

‘Hi Anthony,’ she said, treading water to get back her breath. ‘I’m Olivia. Olivia Bellamy. I’m a teacher. Are you enjoying your holidays?’

He nodded.

‘Me too. I’ll tell you a secret. Teachers look forward to holidays even more than the kids.’

He laughed and she smiled up at him. ‘We’re not too far out. It may take a while but I’m going to drag you to shore. Okay?’

By the time she finally pulled the boat into shallow water the child had recovered from his fright. Jumping out, he ran into the arms of his mother, who was standing knee-deep, anxiously watching his return. Olivia handed the woman the rope and waved off her thanks.

‘No worries. He’s fine. It’s all good.’ Then she’d gone back to her towel for a snooze in the sun and before long had forgotten the whole thing.

Now as she looked into the inspector’s smiling face her pounding heart began returning to normal. He didn’t know about the other thing. He wasn’t here about the other thing.

On returning to her class Olivia saw that little work had been done in her absence. The eccentric AP had, as usual, stirred up the students and then swept off in a whirl. They looked up at her, glad to have their teacher back.

‘You know,’ she said to the kids. ‘I’ve gone off this topic. Why dwell on what happened in the holidays? They’re over. How about we move on?’

The class cheered.