Lint Starts School, страница 1
Lint Starts School
By A M Layet
Copyright 2012 A M Layet
Discover the world of A M Layet at https://amlayet.co.uk/
Chapter One - Introducing...
Lint – Our hero. Enough said.
Ma – Lint’s mother. Mothers, I have to tell you, haven’t developed much in 3,000 million years. They started out bossy, always thinking they know better, and they are still bossy and think they know better. The only difference between Ma and the modern day mother is that Ma is a bit more hairy.
Olgan – Lint’s older sister. Olgan wants to be a boy and acts like a boy and goes to school with the boys. She is lucky; no one in the village has noticed she is not a boy. But Olgan won't be able to keep her secret for ever.
Tan – Lint’s baby brother. Just like mothers, babies haven’t developed much since Stone Age times. They look the same, eat the same things (milk), say the same things (nothing) and make the same things (poo). Tan actually is old enough to be called a toddler, but this is the Stone Age and the word toddler hasn’t been invented yet, so Tan is still a baby to them.
Clan Chief Ghun – In the absence of any police, government, and general busy bodies, Clan Chief Ghun does all of these things. He is the boss. It doesn’t matter how well he does them either. All that matters is how much meat he and the other hunters bring back.
Unta – Clan Chief Ghun’s son. He is the same age as Lint, the same size as Lint, and they have nothing else in common whatsoever. They are the opposite of friends.
In the Boys’ Stone Age School:
Ekk – He’s neither smart nor strong, but he is the school teacher. His only strength is his stone club.
Dec – The oldest and a natural leader. He has set his sights on being Clan Chief one day.
Ithil – Dec’s loyal second in command.
Ayat – Big, strong, loyal and friendly, Ayat is a favourite with everyone.
Jet – Fast and smart, he and Olgan are somehow both best friends and fierce rivals.
Hohn – Tall, with long, dark hair, Hohn keeps himself to himself.
Ban – Ban has a strong right arm and always wants to use it.
Kelc – He is the only boy who tries to avoid fights. This makes him stick out like a sore thumb.
In the Girls’ Stone Age School:
Magna – She’s the girls’ teacher and is tall, intelligent, powerful, and has advanced far ahead of the rest of the clan. For this reason, she has no friends. Ekk particularly dislikes her.
There are also some girls. Lint doesn’t know any of their names. He has no interest in the girls, other than using them as target practice.
Chapter Two – School Starts Badly
All his life, Lint had been at home with Ma. They had done everything together. Ma had killed a hare; Lint had eaten it. Ma had made a fire; Lint had sat next to it. Ma had tied skins together; Lint had worn them, and then worn them out. Life was perfect. There was no need to make any changes. He just wanted more of the same.
Ma, for some reason, had a different idea.
‘School,’ she told him one morning as she shooed him out of their hut. ‘Go school.’
She stood in front of the hut, hands on hips, and filling the opening completely. They didn’t have a door. No-one did. All the clan huts just had an empty hole to get inside. So when Ma needed a door, she became it.
Lint dragged his feet over to the clearing beneath the cliff. Behind him, he heard footsteps. He knew without turning round that it was Tan, his little brother. Tan had a habit of following him: into the woods, onto the rocks, up to the cliff edge. He would have followed Lint over the cliff edge if Lint had jumped. But Lint didn’t. He had brains. Someone needed to have them. Ma certainly didn’t have any.
Sometimes Lint hated it when Tan followed him, such as when he was trying to fish in the river. Tan would throw himself into the water and start splashing. Within moments all the fish were gone, and Lint had to resist the urge to dangle Tan on the end of his fishing hook. But sometimes Tan could be funny, mostly when he tried to join in a fight. Tan’s fists were as soft as egg yolk, and his little blows hurt as much as a leaf falling on your head. And he cried a lot, as soon as someone even touched him. Fights with Tan always ended with Tan crying and everyone else crying with laughter.
Ma, however, wasn’t ready to send Tan to school. She yanked him back to the hut.
‘Stay,’ she told Tan. Lint turned round and decided to pretend she was talking to him.
He trotted back happily to the hut.
Ma stared at him, puzzled. Sometimes it took her a long time to understand what was happening right under her nose.
‘School,’ she said at last, and pointed back at the clearing.
‘But you told me to stay.’ Lint told her, trying his best to look as innocent as Tan.
Mum shook her head.
‘Tan stay. Lint school.’
Long sentences were not one of Ma’s strengths. She liked to keep things simple. Lint liked to complicate them. But this morning Ma was sure of what she wanted. With Tan’s hand in hers, she stamped her foot and pointed once again at the school. Lint sighed, and walked back towards the clearing. He knew when he was beaten.
Lint had always known that one day Ma would try and send him to school. But he had thought he would be able to talk Ma out of it. Talking was one of his strengths, not one of hers. Her strength was her strength; and the thickness of her arms, legs, skin and head.
For years he had watched the bigger kids gather in the clearing, line up and disappear inside the caves for lessons. When it’s my turn, I’ll find a way out of it, he had thought. But Ma had taken him by surprise this morning. He had never expected her to send him so soon and so suddenly. He felt like he had been ambushed, or that he had walked into a trap. It was almost as if Ma had outsmarted him.
His big sister, Olgan, had been going to school for a long time. She was already running around the clearing. Everybody at school thought she was a boy. Everyone in the Clan thought she was a boy. This was because Ma had told them she was. Ma wanted all her children to be able to hunt but girls weren’t supposed to hunt, and they weren’t allowed to go to the boys’ school. They did others things in different caves further along the cliff. Lint had no idea what they did. He guessed it was cooking. Their teacher, a woman called Magna, was a forbidding presence despite being a woman. She was as tall as a Giant, with flaming red hair and a voice that made the rocks shake. Everyone was afraid of her, even Ma. Lint suspected this was because Magna had mastered the art of long sentences. She probably made Ma’s head hurt by just opening her mouth. Sometimes even Lint didn’t understand what Magna was saying.
If Magna had known about Olgan, she would have dragged her kicking and screaming all the way down to the girls’ caves. But no-one knew; no-one but Ma, Lint and Olgan. Tan was still too little to understand. Lint kept the family secret because he had no reason to tell, and one very good reason to keep quiet, Ma’s fist. But for Olgan and Ma, the secret was a matter of life and death. They would rather die than let the secret get out.
Lint waited on the edge of the clearing for someone to notice him. He wasn’t quite sure what to do, but his instincts told him he needed to make a friend, fast. Lint always paid attention to his instincts. Olgan ran past and completely ignored him. She was followed shortly afterwards by Jet, who also ignored Lint. Jet had been at school for as long as Olgan, but, to Olgan’s delight, she was much the taller of the two. What Jet lacked in height, he more than made up for in speed. He was the fastest runner in the whole school.
Then Ayat lumbered past. He was supposed to be chasing Olgan and Jet but he was nowhere near as fast as them.
‘What are you doing here?’ he asked, and Lint took an immediate liking to Ayat. For one thing, Ayat was big. For another, he was strong. His arms were as thick as his legs, and he had muscles as hard as rocks. And he had just stopped and spoken to Lint, which meant he was being friendly. Lint didn’t need any more reasons to like this boy, a lot.
‘Starting school,’ Lint replied.
‘So you’re new and he’s new, so that’s makes…’ Ayat frowned.
‘Two?’ Lint suggested.
‘Yeah, we’ve got two new boys today.’
Lint looked across the clearing at the other new boy. He knew him well. It was Unta. It was not a surprise they were starting school on the same day. They were the same age and height. There were no other similarities. Unta was the son of Clan Chief Ghun and that meant he could do whatever he liked. Lint, in contrast, was the son of nobody. His Pa had died years ago. That meant Lint was supposed to do what he was told.
There was no question of Unta and Lint becoming friends just because they were new boys together. It was far too late for that. They would never be friends. They would always be rivals.
There was a bellow from across the clearing, and their teacher, Ekk, appeared. He carried a stone club and wore a woolly mammoth hide draped over his shoulders. Very few people in the clan wore woolly mammoth hide because mammoths had not been seen in a long time. Ekk liked to tell the story about the day he killed the mammoth and got its hide, but everyone in the clan knew Ekk had got the mammoth hide from his Pa. Ekk himself had never come close enough to a mammoth to smell one, never mind kill one.
Ekk bellowed again and the children formed a hasty line in front of him. Lint didn’t know where to stand. So he stood to the side.
‘Line,’ Ekk growled, and shoved him towards the others.
Then Ekk turned his attention to Unta, who was also standing to one side, not sure what to so. But Ekk didn’t push Unta towards the line. He patted him on the back, walked him over to the line, and showed him his brown teeth, in what was supposed to be a smile. Then Ekk laughed, though he had said nothing, and nobody else had said anything, and there was nothing remotely funny happening. Unta had to lean back to protect himself from Ekk’s breath, which smelt like rotten eggs.
Lint did not enjoy his first morning at school. All they did was carry rocks from the rocky area by the cave to the edge of the village. If they were lucky, they had a break from carrying rocks and were allowed to sit down and break up some of the rocks. This went on all morning, without a break, and with nothing to eat.
Lint became tired, hungry, and bored. Ekk disappeared for a while, and worked stopped immediately. Jet and Olgan picked up some of the smaller rocks and started throwing them at each other. One of the rocks hit Dec, the biggest kid in the class, who had been at school for as long as Lint could remember. Dec picked up a bigger rock and hurled it back at Jet. It missed. So Dec tried again. This time he picked up a handful of rocks, and ran after Jet, throwing rocks as he ran. These all missed Jet, but hit some of the younger boys in the class, who picked them up and started throwing them back at Dec.
At this point, Ekk reappeared and started shouting at everyone. He grabbed the nearest boy, who was Lint and the only one who hadn’t thrown a rock yet, and started shouting and spitting in his face. When Ekk ran out of breath and spit, he pushed Lint back to work. Then he looked around for Unta. When he spotted him, he strode over, gave him another slap on the back, and found a bit breath so he could laugh, even though there was still nothing funny. In fact, the opposite was true.
Back at home that evening, Lint told Ma that he didn’t like school. He said it very plainly so she would understand.
‘Ma,’ he said, and waited until she actually looked at him. ‘I hate school. I’m not going back.’
Ma grunted a reply. It contained no words. Lint was not sure she had understood. He decided to make his meaning even clearer.
‘Ma!’ he shouted. ‘No School.’
This time she nodded, and Lint sighed, relieved, glad that was settled. He never wanted to see the inside of Ekk’s smelly mouth again. Life could continue as it always had done before, with him and Ma being the most important people in it. Olgan would still go to school. It was very important she did go. Someone in the family needed to, just in case something worthwhile was ever taught. And Tan could keep on worshipping Lint.
All was as it should be.