Today’s blog post is brought to you by a writing prompt from Em Hawker, who wanted to see me write a short story to order. The theme for this piece of literary brilliance: Plot twist that’s not a plot twist. (She also gave me the prompt: It’s the end of the world as we know it. Which this story might just lead to.)
Thanks Em. This story goes out to you. x
There were three things that annoyed Sandra Birmingham more than anything else in the world. The first was poor grammar. In her mind there was no excuse for not learning the correct way of speaking and writing, and she made it her business to educate everyone she met. (It helped that her business was teaching English to school students.)
Her second abhorrence, was white chocolate. Sandra maintained that the only time it was ok to discriminate on the basis of colour was when it came to chocolate; white just wouldn’t do.
And the third, was reality TV. It wasn’t realistic, and therefore, its title wasn’t correct. In Sandra’s mind it was this kind of abuse of the English language that was the downfall of all society.
So when it came to be that Sandra was approached by cameras while taking her English class to a local chocolate factory, it appeared that the end of the world was imminent.
It all started innocently enough. How an English teacher came to be leading a school excursion to a Chocolate factory was itself an interesting story, but one best left for another day. The important part of this tale, is that there she was surrounded by children and chocolate and as a result, as happy as a chocolate mad teacher could be.
And then the cameras came in.
At first, she thought the chocolate factory was shooting an advertisement.
‘Miss Birmingham,’ said Sam McMann, ‘I seen some cameras over there.’
‘You saw them,’ she corrected. ‘They are here to film the chocolate.’
‘But Miss Birmingham,’ interrupted Julie Shoe, ‘There are too much people to see the chocolate.’
‘Too many,’ Sandra said patiently. ‘The people will move soon and they can film the advertisment.’
‘Miss Birmingham,’ piped up Tommy Trouble (because all the really naughty boys are named with perfect alliteration), ‘I think I seed the Easter Bunny.’
‘You think you saw him Tom. But you must be wrong, it’s not Easter time yet.’
‘No I’m not wrong,’ piped Tom. ‘There he is!’
Sandra Birmingham looked up and low and behold, there was the Easter Bunny, walking around with an entourage of cameramen, moving its giant paws expressively.
‘Well that is odd,’ she said to herself. ‘It’s not even nearly Easter.’ Not one to settle for such a strange turn of events, Sandra Birmingham crossed the floor to find the factory manager, 22 English students toddling quickly behind her.
‘Excuse me,’ she said politely. ‘Why is the Easter bunny here when it’s not Easter?’
‘Oh, that’s not the Easter Bunny. That’s Farmer Flynn. He’s a chocolate farmer.’
Sandra Birmingham was immediately distrustful of Farmer Flynn/the Easter Bunny. To begin with, his name suggested he would spend most of his time sitting on the naughty chair, and secondly, who had ever heard of a chocolate farmer?
‘I’m sorry Mr Chico (an appropriate name considering his profession), but there is no such thing as a chocolate farmer.’
‘On the contrary, Miss Birmingham, there is. Farmer Flynn has just started up the world’s first white chocolate farm and is here shooting an episode of The Farmer Wants a Wife. Say, are you single? It would be a good plot twist if you caught his eye instead of one of the other girls they picked.’ Mr Chico winked with what he obviously assumed to be humour, but Miss Birmingham was not impressed.
‘I beg your pardon Mr Chico! Not only do I resent the presumption that because I am a single lady I need marrying up, but there is no such thing as a chocolate farmer, and white chocolate is not chocolate at all! Not to mention that Reality Television should be renamed ‘poorly scripted television’ and is almost as big a farce as the rest of this day!’ She spun on her heel and started to exit the factory. ‘Come along children! We are done!’
The children all followed immediately, hurrying after the clickety-clack of their teacher’s high heels. They had almost reached the door, when Sandra Birmingham, the lady who loved grammar, heard the sweetest sound.
‘No, it’s Y O U apostrophe R E. You’ve spelt this wrong! Who wrote this script? And why do we have a script? This is supposed to be reality television, there is nothing realistic about this at all!’
Sandra was frozen to the spot. Could it be that Farmer Flynn shared her views? She paused internally begging him to speak more.
‘And honestly, whose stupid idea was it to make me a chocolate farmer? What is that? And a white chocolate farmer? That’s not even a kind of chocolate!’
Her heart was beating like a drum. Farmer Flynn with the naughty boy’s name thought just the same as her! He was the perfect man!
She turned, ready to run into his arms, and nearly tripped over Tommy Trouble standing right behind her with a grin on his face. Suspicion set in. Tommy Trouble was always playing practical jokes.
‘Was that you who said those things Tommy?’ she asked, frowning at him.
Tommy nodded, smiling even wider. ‘Yes Miss Birmingham. I wanted to see if I could make you run and hug the Easter Bunny like my mum does sometimes.’ The thought of Tommy’s mum hugging the Easter Bunny was a little disturbing so Sandra pushed it out of her mind and concentrated on scolding the boy instead.
‘You know Tommy, it’s not very nice to trick people like that.’
‘Yes, Miss Birmingham.’
‘I’ll have to tell your mother.’
‘Yes, Miss Birmingham.’
‘I won’t mention the Easter Bunny though.’
‘Better not, Miss Birmingham.’ And then Sandra Birmingham walked out of the chocolate factory with her class, a little disappointed that she hadn’t met a milk-chocolate-loving-reality-TV-hating-grammar-nerd, but happy that she had the rest of the day to teach all the different ways to spell ‘there.’
Later that night, Tommy Trouble sat in front of the TV with his mother, watching the news and eating chicken nuggets and two-minute noodles. ‘Oooh look Tommy! There’s the chocolate factory you were at today! And there’s you and Miss Birmingham!’
‘In today’s news,’ the TV presenter was saying. ‘Farmer Flynn from the upcoming Farmer Wants a Wife series stormed off the set after continual issues with spelling and chocolate production. A new farmer will be appearing in his place.’
‘Oh, poor Farmer Flynn,’ said Tommy’s mum. ‘Why does Miss Birmingham look mad?’
Tommy shrugged, dipping a nugget in sauce. ‘She didn’t want to hug the Easter Bunny.’