Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Show and Tell By Andy Wright

Autumnal sun streamed through the blinds, creating patterns of light and dark.



At the front, Michael held a supermarket carrier bag, handles scrunched in his fist. The other children, some fascinated and some bored, faced forwards.



“Michael has offered to show us his favourite toys. At the end of his presentation, you may ask some questions.” Mrs Howell backed against the door, silhouetted against light.



The boy, inoffensively plain, with browning-blonde hair, gazed for a moment. There were a couple of titters; a girl with dark hair smiled, an unconscious skill from her mum. At this, Michael deposited his carrier bag onto the desk. He opened and peered into the bag, reached in and pulled out a small wooden car. The class gasped, their heightened expectations punctured.



Michael looked around at his class-mates, trying to process their reactions, to understand if he had passed. He read their silence wrongly, and carefully turned Car so that its battered front was facing forward, allowing a better look. None of the class recognised that Car had once been pristine, but had noaw sustained damage from too many scrapes against too many skirting-boards, too much time spent in charity-shop bargain bins and too many hand-me-downs from eldest to youngest.



Michael gave Car a last look before reaching back inside, and scuttling his hand around to find Daniel Robot. He was Michael’s favourite, although he would never admit this - even to himself- as he didn’t want to upset Car. Michael knew that Car probably understood, and he worked hard to ensure that both Car and Daniel Robot had equal attention, and equal use in the games he played in the front room. Sometimes, Daniel Robot would drive Car, and sometimes Car would work with Daniel Robot to find missing children, or they might fly together through galaxies to outer star clusters where they could make camp and create a settlement for imagined space troops. Mostly, though, Car and Daniel Robot worked together and took it in turns to sleep by Michael’s face or feet, and were his friends.



Daniel Robot toppled over on the desk. Michael adjusted him, instinctively, leaning him onto the side of Car. He carefully folded his carrier bag into a square and tucked this square into his pocket. When he looked up, a cloud drifted over the sun, bringing a sombre cast to the beams of light that stumbled through the blinds. He beamed at the dark-haired girl, and Mrs Howell, and he smiled and patted Car and Daniel Robot.



“Would you like to tell us about your toys, Michael?”



“This is Daniel Robot. And this is Car.”



The malicious blaze of sniggering started slowly but soon caught on the fuse of every child’s cruel mockery, until the whole class was engulfed.



Michael packed away his toys.


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