A crashing noise from the back of the classroom disrupts my first lesson of the day. I stop midway through my sentence about The Blues and glare in the general direction of the Benson twins. It’s always them. The twins are notorious troublemakers who seem to have had it in for me ever since I started at the school two years earlier. Carving rude words into the desks, pulling keys off keyboards or smashing the odd ukulele against a wall: they are experts in making my lessons with 8H a waking nightmare.
Preparing myself for battle, I stride towards the back of the room, wondering what on earth they could still find to destroy in my decimated classroom. Much to my surprise, as I reach their desk I find that there is a rather large, beady-eyed and horribly hairy tarantula advancing across it. The twins, for once the victims rather than the aggressors, are cowering against the back wall, their eyes glued to the arachnid and watching its every move. It appears that the crashing noise I heard was the sound of them throwing their chairs out of the way as they scrambled to get as far away as possible from the many-legged mini-monster.
The other students, starting to notice what is going on, are threatening to revolt.
“Everyone stay calm and, whatever you do, don’t move,” I say to the room at large in my most authoritative voice. My childhood spent in rural Australia told me at first glance that this spider, although large, is virtually harmless. It has evolved to look deadly in order to protect itself from predators, but its bite is no worse than a wasp sting. However, seeing the Benson twins, my nemeses for the last two years, with a look of genuine fear on their faces gives me an idea.
It’s payback time, I think to myself gleefully.
“This is a red-backed bird-eater, the deadliest tarantula in the world,” I say, my voice barely louder than a whisper. I have the attention of every single student in 8H, all of them staring wide-eyed at the creature still creeping along the edge of the Bensons’ desk.
Maybe I should have been a drama teacher.
“Sir, should I go to the office and get someone?”
“No! You mustn’t move!”
I tiptoe slowly and calmly towards the desk, and lay my hand out flat, palm up. I can sense the nervous tension in the room. As the tarantula climbs onto my hand, the hairs on his legs tickle my skin.
“Lunchbox.” I say, not taking my eyes off the spider. Sophie, sitting at the next desk, obliges. I reach my free hand out for the open lunchbox and very, very slowly, tilt the hand with the tarantula in, encouraging him into the box. Success! I secure the lid and place the lunchbox on my desk. Luckily, it has air-holes.
The class cheers.
“Sir! That was epic!”
“What a legend!”
I smile, knowing I have finally won.