Dyspepsia took the tiny bottle to school. Spookie let her because she didn’t want to be nursing it all day, as she put it.
Dyspepsia didn’t normally carry a pencil case. But she did so today, because Spookie insisted. According to Spookie, if she kept it in her pocket, she’d get a blister on her skin where the pocket was.
She wanted to show off her pet spark to all her friends. But a little voice at the back of her mind told her it wouldn’t be a good idea, as they’d all want one—and one of her friends might want hers. All the same, she kept it on her desk all morning, watching the spark go up-and-down, up-and-down, ready to tap it if it stuck to the bottom.
Teacher saw it and confiscated it. She put it in her big desk at the front of the class. She wanted Dyspepsia to pay attention to what she was saying, not to her pet bottle. She didn’t notice the spark inside, and Dyspepsia didn’t put her wise to it.
When it was lunchtime and there was no one in the classroom, Dyspepsia did a naughty thing. She went to Teacher’s desk, opened it and got her bottle out. She really, really needed to get it back, otherwise Spookie would think she’d simply been careless and lost it. Cupping the bottle in her hands to make it as dark as possible inside, she looked for her spark.
It wasn’t there!
She sniffed sadly. It must have settled on the glass side and got snuffed out. A tear ran down her cheek. Her pet spark was dead!
Then she felt her hand. It was wet.
Tears? Blood? No—it was clean, clear water. Where was it coming from? The cork was plugged in tight enough. She hadn’t touched her cheek, so it couldn’t be tears. She dried the bottle in her hanky and then felt it again. Sure enough, it started to grow moist.
Although she couldn’t see it, there was a narrow hole right through the side of the bottle. Again her heart went thump, but this time for a different reason. Had it made anything wet inside Teacher’s desk? She opened the lid again and looked at where the bottle had been lying.
It had been on top of the class register.
She took the register out and stared at it. There was a wet patch about the size of a biscuit. She held the register up to the light. She could see a little spot of light in the middle of the wet patch. A tiny hole, tinier than a pinhole, went right through the class register.
Dyspepsia felt in her pocket and pulled out her laser pointer. Little girls don’t normally carry laser pointers—but when you’re friends with Spookie it’s the sort of thing you find yourself doing. Switching it on, she scratched the tip of the laser over the bottom of the desk where the wet patch had been. Looking round under the desk, she watched the floor beneath. Sure enough, she saw the laser beam sparkle briefly.
The floor had beige plastic tiles with no pattern. She dropped to her knees and peered closely at the spot on the floor where she’d seen the laser sparkle. Sure enough, there was a tiny hole with a burnt rim. She put her eye to the hole, hoping to see her spark inside, but it was quite dark. The hope she’d felt when she thought her pet spark might still be alive now began to fade. Perhaps it was dead after all—snuffed out by the floor tile. She felt another tear coming on.
She put the class register back in Teacher’s desk. She’d thought she’d better put the bottle back on top of the register, in case Teacher thought she’d taken it back without asking. But first she poured away the water behind the radiator, where it wouldn’t be noticed, because she didn’t want the register getting any wetter. Then she went off to lunch.
On the way a nasty thought occurred to her. What if the spark hadn’t got snuffed out by the floor tile? What if it had burnt right through? What if it had then burnt through the concrete floor… and dropped into the ground beneath? What if it was now working its way down through clay and rock to New Zealand?
All afternoon she was uncommonly quiet in class. Teacher got quite worried. She asked Dyspepsia if she was unwell and needed to be sent home. Blushing furiously, Dyspepsia shook her head hard. But for the rest of the afternoon, whenever Dyspepsia looked up from her work, she saw Teacher staring at her with her lips pressed together.
When school was over and Dyspepsia got home, she told Spookie all about it. She thought she’d be cross with her for losing their pet spark. But Spookie gave her a hug instead. And she kept her claws in.
“I doubt it got past the floor tile. Ah well—it’s the last we’ll hear of it.”
How wrong she was!
…to be continued.