“Please turn the page and look at the picture of several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict.” Miss M looked up and noted the blank faces before her. Some days she truly had to wonder if anyone was really listening. She clapped her hands and said, “Come on, turn the page, we haven’t got all day.”
A hand was raised from a desk in the third row. Miss M gave a mental groan, why did it always have to be Rufus? “Yes Rufus, what is it?”
“Um, I was just, um, wondering, well you see, it’s just that…..what’s a Pict?”
Simon snickered from the desk behind him. “It’s what you get when you pick your nose moron.”
“Simon Mulligan, I’ve had it with you…detention, this Friday!” Miss M grabbed her pencil and made a note in her diary.
“But Ma’am, I was just making a joke.”
“You’re always ‘just making a joke’ Simon. Sooner or later you’re going to have to start taking things seriously. Bring your sports clothes, the vans need washing.” With a quick glance at the wall clock, Miss M lifted the book and opened her mouth to speak.
“Ma’am, um, I still, um, don’t know, um, what a Pict is?” This from the now red-faced Rufus. Miss M knew that she should feel sorry for the boy, but honestly, today he just annoyed her. Sighing, she lowered the book and surveyed the class.
“Emily, you’re fond of reading. Can you tell us what a Pict is?”
The little girl blushed and shook her head, “I’m not sure ma’am, is it an abbreviation for picture?”
Dean jumped up and yelled, “I know, they’ve got a Kodak camera, that’s why they’re so happy!”
“Dean sit down!” Miss M’s head was beginning to pain, how she dreaded this particular group of children. She had to get them to pass, she really couldn’t survive another year with them. Silently she counted to ten, then to twenty.
“Why a Kodak?”
She looked up to see Sharon’s hand in the air. What was it the girl was asking? Miss M began to wonder if this was a bad dream, maybe she should pinch herself.
Dean’s voice broke her trance, “They have PictBridge, you know, where you can print straight from memory card. So I’m thinking these little animals are really happy ‘cos now they can really get into their photography.”
Sharon looked at the boy, clearly still confused. “But don’t other cameras also have PictBridge?”
“Yeah, but I’ve got a Kodak and it’s really cool!”
“Dean, I am not going to tell you again, sit down! I think you can join Simon cleaning the school vans this Friday.” Miss M lifted her pencil once more, jotting down the boy’s name.
Fighting the urge to scream, she looked up and said, “If you could all just take your pencils and draw a cross over the picture, it’s a misprint.” With that, she flopped down into her chair, using both hands to rub her now throbbing head.
“Um, Ma’am, I still don’t, um, know what a, um, Pict is…”
“Rufus Adams, are you trying to……”
At precisely the moment that Miss M was about to commit mass murder on a group of Grade 7 children, the bell began to ring.
She closed her eyes and waited as the children stampeded from her classroom, relief washing slowly over her. When she felt calmer, she opened them and focussed on the small red-headed boy in front of her.
“They were the indigenous people of Scotland, Rufus. No-one knows what they called themselves, the name Pict means ‘painted or tattooed people.”
“Thanks Ma’am, that’s really interesting.” The little boy beamed and gave her a quick hug. With that, he bounced out of the classroom, leaving behind a bewildered Miss M.
Maybe I was wrong, she thought. Maybe someone really is listening after all.