If you’re just joining Cecil and the gang, take a gander and check out Chapter One!
Week two. Tiny Thomas giggled. He always giggled when he had a naughty plan up his sleeve. Beefy Bertha nudged him and he stifled the giggle into a gurgle down his throat. Cecil walked up to his two friends, not suspecting a thing.
“Hey guys!” he said, a slight blush pinking his freckled cheeks. He still hadn’t quite recovered from the embarrassing week that had just passed. His dad was still furious with him for cutting the holly bush outside their house. All the neighbours kept thanking him for cutting it and even Mrs Nobin, the complaining old bat from number 22, had patted his dad on his bald head and said he wasn’t such a bad egg after all!
“Y’lright Cecil?” replied Bertha and Thomas. “We ‘ear you cleaned up your fron’ yard. Is tha’ true?”
“Yes! Wha’ of it? I go’ sick ‘n tired of bein’ scratched by tha’ stupid bush!” he said rudely.
“Ooooo! Keep yer knickers on!” Both children burst out laughing and pulled out a pair of pants that looked exactly the same as the ones Cecil had been wearing when he received his first wedgie. Cecil cringed at the sight of them. Thomas swung them high in the air for all to see and children as far as the slide on the other side of the playground watched as Cecil jumped and screamed at Thomas to put the pants down. Beefy Bertha caught them as they fell and waved them up in the air again. Cecil stood back and watched his so-called friends make fun of him. A cold chill ran through him and as he turned to walk away, he bumped straight into the tall thin body of Ms Crow. He gasped in fright and nearly fell backwards.
“It’s alright Cecil. I’ve got you,” she whispered. Her dark eyes flashed with sympathy. It made him want to cry. His scary teacher was kinder than the two buddies he had called friends since pre-school. The playground fell silent and children scattered. No-one wanted to be close to the raven lady as she cast a sweeping gaze at the children in front of her. “Thomas! Bertha! I want to see you in class NOW!” she squawked. “Cecil, you can come too.”
The classroom felt cold and miserable. Cecil’s head hung low and his feet dragged as he followed Thomas and Bertha to the desks at the front. Ms Crow ruffled her shoulders and sat down at her desk. She didn’t offer them a chance to sit down, so they stood in front of the desks, waiting for her to say something. She didn’t. Instead, she sat very still, her birdlike eyes watching each child. Her beaky nose bobbed forward once in a while as though she was agreeing with something she thought of silently in her head. This made the children very uncomfortable. Tiny Thomas shuffled his feet and Beefy Bertha searched for something under her long dirty fingernails. Only Cecil stood very still, his whole body wrapped in sadness and his mind going over how awful his friends had treated him. They stood there for what felt like hours (but was probably only five minutes!) and stewed under the gaze of Ms Crow.
At last she sighed. Her shoulders lifted and her dark hair folded around her face, hiding her high cheekbones and dark eyes.
“What is true friendship?” she asked the children. “Is it making fun of each other or supporting each other?”
Thomas and Bertha shifted uneasily. They felt embarrassed at what they had done to Cecil. They knew they had been awful friends, but this was what they did. It was funny – wasn’t it? Thomas took a peek in Cecil’s direction. His friend had not moved at all. Bertha was still picking her nails and pretending not to hear anything. She didn’t like all this touchy feely stuff. They hadn’t meant anything by it. It was silly Ms Crow making a big deal out of it all.
The bell meant the end of playtime and children started returning to their classes. Curious stares flicked forward and backward between the three guilty looking children and Ms Crow.
“Sit down everyone. You three, go sit down. I’m sure you have learnt your lesson,” said Ms Crow.
The three shuffled past their fellow school mates and found their seats. Cecil took his time to move his desk further away from the other two, putting it back in line with the desk in front of him. Thomas watched him and pulled a face. Bertha giggled and sat down with a thump on her seat.
A loud farty noise filled the air. Spotty Sally sat up and stared at Beefy Bertha’s bottom. A bubble of laughter escaped her lips.
“Teehee! Bertha let one go!” she whispered loudly to Emma who sat to her right.
Thomas scrunched up his nose and glared at Bertha. His mouth made an ‘Ewww!’ as he sat down.
Thomas’ face turned a bright red as his bottom made a loud flatulent sound too. The children burst out laughing and turned to point at Bertha and Thomas.
“Yuck!” shrieked Spotty Sally, holding her nose.
“Gross!” shouted Bertram who had just stopped picking his nose.
The rest of the children chimed in with their comments and laughter.
“EEEEENOUGH!” shouted Ms Crow.
Silence. Okay a little giggle, then silence.
“Miss Bertha Beetroom and Mr Thomas Tilbury…explain yourselves,” fumed Ms Crow.
“Ssss..ssorry Miss. I…I don’t know what happened!” squeaked Thomas in a very embarrassed voice. Bertha wanted to hide under her desk. Of course, she would never have fitted under there, but she felt like hiding away from the silent laughter and pointy fingers of the children around her. What on earth had happened to her?