Excerpt from Exodus 节选自“出埃及”
At school I couldn't seem to learn anything or win anything, not even the draw to get out of being dinner monitor. Dinner monitor meant that you had to make sure everybody had a plate and that the water jug didn't have bits in it. Dinner monitors got served last and had the smallest portions. I'd been drawn to do it three times running and I got shouted at in class for always smelling of 1)gravy. My clothes were gravy-spotted and my mother made me wear the same 2)gymslip all week because she said there was no point trying to make me look clean as long as I had that duty. My mother was right. It was a 3)Breeding Ground. And it wasn't as though I hadn't tried. We had been set a project just before we started last autumn, we had to write an essay called “What I Did in My Summer Holidays.” I was anxious to do it well because I knew they thought I couldn't read or anything, not having been to school early enough. I did it slowly in my best handwriting, proud that some of the others could only print. We read them out one by one, then gave them to the teacher. I was at the end of the alphabet, and I could hardly wait. The teacher was the kind of woman who wanted her class to be happy.
I wanted to please her, and trembling with 4)anticipation I started my essay… “This holiday I went to Colwyn Bay with our church camp.”
The teacher nodded and smiled.
“It was very hot, and Auntie Betty, whose leg was loose anyway, got 5)sunstroke and we thought she might die.”
The teacher began to look a bit worried, but the class 6)perked up.
“But she got better, thanks to my mother who stayed up all night struggling mightily.”
“Is your mother a nurse?” asked teacher, with quiet sympathy.
“No, she just heals the sick.”
Teacher frowned. “Well, carry on then.”
“When Auntie Betty got better we all went in the bus to Llandudno to testify on the beach. I played the 7)tambourine, and Elsie Norris brought her 8)accordion, but a boy threw some sand, and since then she's had no F sharp. We're going to have a 9)jumble sale in the autumn to try and pay for it.”
The class had got very quiet. Teacher looked at me. “Is there any more?”
“Yes, two more sides.”
“Very good, but I don't think we'll have time today. Put your work back in your tidy box, and do some more colouring till playtime.”
The class giggled.
Slowly I sat down, not sure what was going on, but sure that something was. When I got home I told my mother I didn't want to go again.
“You've got to, ” she said. “Here, have an orange.”