By Lisa Scheerlinck
The last week of term was science week. Mrs Armstrong told us that we were going to have an incubator with eggs hatching baby chicks.
I was excited. Something I could not muck up. Just looking and making pictures. I imagined fluffy tiny birds in hatch back toy cars racing around a farm yard. Two drawings crept over the bar chart I was supposed to be creating.
“Lydia! Concentrate!” Mrs Armstrong glanced at my sheet. I blushed and tried to cover it with another sheet of paper.
She smiled and sighed. “Lovely drawing Lydia, but sadly not what you need to work on now.”
“I’m sorry Miss. Truly I am.” I stuttered.
“Don’t apologise. Just complete your chart. No break time until it’s finished and correct.”
I felt hot and miserable. When was I going to stop scribbling everywhere?
I put the chicks firmly out of my mind and started counting the children with the green tops, those with spectacles, those that played violin. They all seemed so busy and so confusing!
It was 10 minutes into break when I finished. I went to the front of the empty classroom and handed my chart to Mrs Armstrong.
She smiled again and took my sheet, then frowned and scribbled, then sighed.
“This is better than your last attempt, but these 3 are playing the violin AND wearing green.”
Looking over her shoulder I could see my mistake.
“Now about those chicks.”
I felt another blush coming on.
“ Sorry Miss, I didn’t mean to.”
“Never mind the drawings. The problem is that EggsRUs have left a message about a fox.
They have run out of fertilised eggs. I’m terribly sorry but there will be no chicks at school after all. I’ll arrange some other drawing tasks for you.”
I was so relieved I was not in more trouble. Despite the short break and my hopeless maths lesson, I was happy when I joined Shetal and Clare outside. I loved Mrs Armstrong. She was kind. If only I could see the problems before she had to show them to me!
I tried to tell them about the chicks whilst stuffing my mouth.
“Phno thicks fis fweek.” I mumbled, chewing the delicious sandwiches. Dad had made them and he was the finest tuna mayo chef in the world. “Ah Fffok haf cauffd frubble af fa ffarhm.”
“ What on earth are you on about Lydia?” Shetal asked with a pretend posh accent. I started to giggle and Clare joined in, then Shetal. I only just managed to avoid spraying them with half chewed lunch.
That Friday I was the last to be picked up. I had told mum and dad we were finishing early, but I swear they never listen to a word I say.
The doors had already closed and I was sitting and drawing on my rucksack in the Reception classroom. The doorbell rang. I checked the clock. 30 minutes late! The teachers were in the staff room so I went to open the door. A man was there with an enormous box.
“Hatching Box ?” he offered.
“I’ll fetch a teacher Sir.”
Mrs Armstrong came back to the entrance with me. There, Dad and the hatching man were chatting away.
“Hello Lyds, sorry I’m late, problems at the depot. Meet Syd. We went to school together. He’s telling me all about his eggs. Fascinating!”
“I’m sorry Syd,” Mrs Amstrong started, “but the children have finished for their Easter break. We cannot possibly look take them now.”
I gave Dad my biggest eyes.
“We could put them your room Lyds. Syd was telling me they only need water, the food in the box and a tiny bit of cleaning.”
Syd gave Dad a few more instructions before we loaded the box into the back of the car.
Mum was unimpressed.
We plugged the incubator in and emptied a small bag of straw onto the bottom. The eggs were in a box that had been wrapped in newspaper. I carefully took them out and placed them under the lamp where Dad said they should go.
I wanted to watch, but Syd had told Dad they would not hatch for a few days.
Mum’s sister came to visit the next day. We blew some eggs to decorate. She used the contents of the eggs to make a cake and chatted to mum whilst I painted at the kitchen table.
I thought about the chicks that were upstairs inside the incubator whilst I stroked colours onto the fragile shells.
“Sleep tight Picasso.” Aunty Sarah murmured.
Lying in bed looking at the ceiling, I wondered how Picasso would decorate an egg when a sound from the incubator gave me a start.
I switched on the light and looked in. One of the six eggs was rocking slightly under the lamp.
They were starting to hatch!
I grabbed a sketch pad and stared, my fingers itching.
I drew them resting under the light, but before I finished, a hole appeared.
More rocking, more cracks. It seemed that every few minutes a clockwork toy started whirring in the egg. I carried on drawing as the hole grew. Suddenly a beak popped out!
Another egg began rocking.
I wanted to call the grown ups but the picture in front of me kept changing.
A chick emerged with another spasm.
It was brown and wet and lay still, looking exhausted. Pictures flew. I wanted to get the shine and bulge just right. Before I could finish, the chick started pushing with its legs again.
Six fluffy chicks woke me with cheerful cheeps, yellow puffballs with shiny black eyes and long, strong orange legs. I made one last sketch and ran downstairs to show Mum and Dad.
Syd was in the kitchen. He had come to fetch Dad for an early run.
“Great drawings Lydia!” Syd said, “I’d love to use them for my flyers.”
I blushed; this time with pride.