Writing inspired by the following SWC prompt:
The Milk Jug
Why does the milk jug have spots?
We Are The 4A
by Jasmine Fassl
‘Why does this milk jug have spots?’
There was silence in the class.
‘I clearly explained that I wanted plain pottery pieces,’ Mrs Witherington hissed.
The children looked to the floor. Nobody spoke. There was nothing to say. The jug on the very left of the teacher’s desk at the front clearly had spots. They sparkled in all sorts of colours on a brilliant white background. It stood out against the other 24 uniformly single-coloured jugs around it.
‘I’m off sick for one week. One week!’ Mrs Witherington wagged her finger while marching up and down at the front of the classroom. Her red cheeks matched the round spots on the offending jug.
‘Whose jug is this?’ she asked as she stopped suddenly, turning to face her class. ’Come on, own up.’ She scanned the down-cast eyes of her charges.
Nobody said a word.
‘Who was your substitute teacher last week, who allowed this?’ she asked, then waited, scowling. ‘Fine. If you will not tell me, I’ll have to use other methods to find out!’
With these words she stormed out of the classroom in the direction of the headmasters’ office.
As soon as the door slammed shut behind her, the children looked up. Shy smiles spread across their faces as they looked at each other.
‘Did you see her nostrils flare?’ asked a girl in pigtails at the front.
‘Yeah – I thought her head was going to explode’ grinned the boy next to her.
Small giggles followed this comment.
‘Well, it really worked. If she tells Mr Mendes about it, he’ll definitely come down to find out why she’s in such a rage,’ a solemn girl with a tie-dye t-shirt said.
‘And then he’ll see her art class isn’t arty and fun, it’s boring,’ chirped a small, blond boy at the back.
‘Do you really think they’ll not punish me for this?’ the pigtailed girl asked.
‘No, they won’t. They’d have to punish the whole class. We all painted one of the dots on that jug,’ the tie-dye clothed girl said.
The next moment the door was flung open again and Mrs Witherington stamped in.
‘Mr Mendes, here it is. The milk jug that has been defaced.’ She pointed accusingly at the offending piece of pottery.
Mr Mendes, who had followed Mrs Witherington stopped just inside the door of the classroom. He looked at the class, sitting quietly with their heads down. Then at the teacher and the jug. He took in all the plain jugs as well as the one with the colourful spots. He looked at the class again, considering them carefully.
‘Mrs Witherington, you’re doing pottery in your art lesson with this class – is that correct?’ he asked.
‘Yes. It’s our topic for this month, as prescribed by the curriculum. I instructed them to paint their milk jugs in one plain colour, so that it may be useful in the household,’ she answered, surprised that he was questioning her and not the children.
Mr Mendes nodded as he walked slowly to the table. He picked up the jug, turned it over and read out loud: ‘WE ARE THE 4A.’
It was written in colourful letters, decorated with flourishes and splotches – with as much colour as the space allowed. He looked up and smiled at the class.
‘But art is not meant to be useful, Mrs Witherington. It is mean to be fun, creative and cathartic.’
Mrs Witherington’s chin dropped, her mouth gaped open. She did not even manage to stutter a reply, as she stared in shock at the headmaster.
And class 4A – as one – sat up a bit straighter, their shoulders pulled back and their faces aimed up at their headmaster at the front. They had made their point. It had been heard and understood.
This was why the milk jug needed to have spots.
Sunday Writers' Club Team Member
Jasmine Fassl works for Vienna University and is a co-founder of SWC. She loves it when she finds the time to write while hosting online Sunday Writing Sessions. You can find out more about Jasmine on the Sunday Writers' Club about page here.