The Nose from Jupiter

Free The Nose from Jupiter by Richard Scrimger

Book: The Nose from Jupiter by Richard Scrimger Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richard Scrimger
    The bell rang again. Time to go in. We started to shuffleforward. Miranda was still favoring her ankle, I noticed. She whispered over her shoulder. “Shania Twain! Isn’t that great!”
Great! Just great!
said Norbert.
    “You sound enthusiastic, Squeaky. I’m glad you’re a country music fan.” She smiled at me.
    “There’s a part of me that really likes it,” I said. “Something inside me.”
    “I didn’t know that. You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?”
    I didn’t say anything.
    “Anyway, I thought Shania was from Timmins. I never knew she used to go to school here.”
    The morning passed uneventfully, except for this ripple of country music excitement that wouldn’t die down. Norbert was as bad as anyone else. I tried telling him that Shania Twain was not coming, but he wouldn’t believe it. And every time he heard someone else talk about her, he got more and more convinced. The principal didn’t make matters better by reminding us about the assembly during morning announcements. “It’ll be a great show,” said Mr. Omerod. “I hope you’re all looking forward to meeting a truly remarkable individual.”
    We were doing
in science class – that’s plants. Animals are
Pretty dull, whatever you call it. Even Miss Scathely looked bored. She was going around the class asking us to think of different kinds of trees. “Do you havea tree in your backyard?” she’d ask. There was a growing list of trees on the board. I don’t know what I was thinking of when she asked me. My mind went blank. I couldn’t think of a single kind of tree. Not one. I looked up at the board for guidance, and one entry caught my eye: slippery elm. That’s the tree in the school yard, the one the bullies hung around before school. I pictured Prudence – braided hair, unsmiling face, matching sweater and slacks, heavy shoes. Perfect for kicking, I thought.
    “Alan?” prompted Miss Scathely. “Are you paying attention?”
    All around me was a kind of bored silence – no one cared whether I was paying attention or not – and then, with nothing useful going on in my head, Norbert spoke up.
What about shoe-trees?
he asked.
    The class stirred slightly. Miss Scathely smiled. “I don’t think those are the kind of trees we’re talking about, er, Alan,” she said.
They’re the kind of trees we have on Jupiter
, said Norbert.
    “I beg your pardon?”
Ah, the trees of Jupiter! The richly scented umbrella-trees, the deep and musty shoe-trees, the high roof-trees, the hard-working axle-trees, the sweet and tender pace-trees! And in every household, blooming and blossoming, a completely unique family-tree. Sometimes I wish I’d never left.
He sighed.
    Now the class was awake. Most of them were giggling. I blushed Dingwall red, but I didn’t move. Actually, it waskind of nice to be able to make people laugh. Without even opening my mouth too.
    “What are pace-trees?” Miss Scathely asked.
They’re beautiful! Tarts and éclairs and layer cakes. Mmm! The scent of them on the summer breeze.
    “You mean pastries,” she said, laughing.
Didn’t I say that?
    Miss Scathely didn’t say anything about Norbert’s voice. She didn’t seem to notice at all. She leaned back against her desk. “Isn’t that interesting. I can just imagine what shoetrees and pace-trees would look like, if they really were flora. Let’s turn this into a game. Can anyone think of any other kind of tree they might have on Jupiter?”
    After a moment Miranda put up her hand. “What about industry?” she asked. Miss Scathely nodded her approval.
    “Yes, I can just imagine a crop of heavy indus-trees being cut down for timber.” The class laughed appreciatively. “Anyone else now? Wait – I’ve got one.” She went to the board and drew a sharp, angular outline of a tree. The foliage at the top looked like a triangle. “All right, class, what kind of tree is this?”
    Three or four

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