Welcome to the stunning conclusion of Animals too Have Stories to Tell.
It ends here.
Like her mother would have done before she too had quieted down, before she took instructions from Carl who was now in the habit of talking to the school’s custodian – doing his best to keep her in check as long as it was time for women to get a handle on things.
For Carl a handle had meant that they had come to some agreement of which family members to invite, while for her it meant deciding to live together without kids and still making the best of it.
Something she hadn’t quite understood before the doctors made the arrangement – either because they hadn’t taken the time to think things through or else because neither of them wanted to disappoint their parents.
And to some extent, she had always felt strange about it. As though, although she was a grown woman – she would find herself looking towards her mother and father, hoping that they would give her direction. Or affirmation. As though she didn’t have a brain of her own and couldn’t think for herself.
Sometimes when Carl asked her about it, she would tell him how her father was astute. Or else how her mother had helped to bring up her siblings – each of them now – grown men and women who still had good jobs.
And she had seen him smile, even though they had never really spoken about it. Never told him that with a father on the Board of Education he was one or two steps higher than her on the totem pole even though ever since they met – he had tried to prove that the distance meant nothing to him.
Except she had seen the looks from the other men and women in the village. Looks that meant that she was lucky. That she was getting away with something.
And she had tried to prove those stares untrue because deep down she knew that everyone was worth something. Then she lost her father, and after that she had had a still birth. Little by little she was starting to feel like life wasn’t worth anything.
But she kept those thoughts to herself because if she said anything, a man like Carl would start to look at her more closely. Would start to suspect something. And she didn’t want to give him any reason to start seeing things from a negative perspective – because she had plans for her life – wanted it to mean something.
In the end.
Maybe that was why she had picked up the petition for Indy and Jade – because although they might have been responsible for what had happened to her father – in the end she couldn’t, didn’t want to blame them for everything.
So she took her posters and placards to the streets. Had even gotten shoppers in the grocery store and the mall to back her, until the police had stopped her mutinous group and the papers had started to condemn her as though she was some sixteenth century heretic.
Asking what it was that she was teaching their kids. Whether someone like that was fit to be employed at such an illustrious institution.
That was when the head teacher and the principal had gotten on board. Preaching their fire and brimstone ethics as though she was the one who had gotten things wrong.
Each time she had tried to convince them that Indy and Jade were not the bad ones. Not the problem, because they were not the ones who had started to encroach on state land, but then the politicians had had to put in their two cents, because without their suggestions they feared that the people would remain either poised to act or inactive. As if they could not sort out the taxes by themselves, or check to see why the debris on the side of the roads hadn’t been cleared. Or else why the students were not taking advantage of every opportunity that was being presented to them by the government.
And she had only held onto her head – to prevent herself from bawling – because in the end, she had started to feel as though she was back at square one – and just like Chicken Little she looked up and all she could see was that the sky was falling.
The little boy with the crooked teeth held out his hand, and took a hold of hers. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Drummer,” he said, with a weak smile, “I won’t let those unruly politicians take Indy and Jade away from you.”
Then the other children said, “Yes. Neither will we.”
And she squeezed his hand, all the while wiping away tears that she didn’t know had fallen, trying to keep her head above water, because that’s what a drummer did. When they saw reason and acknowledged the call. To action.
Even as the world around them changed.
They would open their hearts and minds and then head out.
She did that now, watching them with their bus tickets in their hand and opened the door.
“Let’s go, children,” she said, laying down the newspaper. Glad that they had gotten permission to see Indira and Jadoo before all of this had come to a head. It would be wise to go, she could hear her father whispering, before the world started to spin and everything changed.
She remembered her father then, propped up on pillows in that faint light, right before the doctor had tried to stitch him back together. His hand on her head. “Do you remember when you were little,” he said looking through the window. “And your mother and I would have to read to you, to keep you from fidgeting. Sometimes we would take you to the zoo, and you would prop yourself down in front of the lion’s cage. And you would sit there for hours as though watching them you would find something awe-inspiring.” He wiped his face with his good hand.”We could never tear you away.”
She had nodded then, as though she knew that it meant the world to him. Watching him, she could always see the lions. As they pranced about their cage, eating food and cradling their young. That had always been their special time together. She turned away from that memory now.
Watched the children go.
Imagining that she was their mother. That this was where everything began and ended – and then she saw herself standing up to the school board, and the principal and then eventually winning.
Then she remembered the first thing he had said to when, when he had introduced her to the lions so many years ago, “Never forget darling, that animals too have stories to tell.”
And then everything else began to fade away.
I hope you’ve enjoyed, Animals too Have Stories to Tell. I’ve enjoyed going through the story again and making a couple of edits.
As always, do keep reading and writing. They are like good friends, they always go hand in hand.
Thanks again for stopping by and do come again.