Tallulah followed her classmates as they were led around the open plains Zoo. It was hard to stay interested in everything the teachers were making them look at, not because she didn’t like animals, she did, she was a regular visitor to the zoo, her family had a yearly pass that gave her access whenever she wanted to so she’d seen a lot more in that zoo than the school had time to show. The main reason she was having trouble staying interested was because she’d chosen to do her assignment on lions and it felt like they been walking for hours and they hadn’t yet made the lion’s den, but they’d be there soon.
Even though she knew the lion’s den was coming up Tallulah began to lag behind the group, it wasn’t difficult to do, the teachers walking at the back of the group had other things on their mind. At the den there was four visual points where visitors could look through thick protective glass and out onto an open plain. Because of the open nature of the zoo the animals weren’t always in view of every viewing point and it was a question of luck how much any visitor got to see.
With every step Tallulah dropped a little further behind her classmates and her teachers, there was a reason she’d chosen lions as her assignment subject and a good result for that assignment relied on her not being with other people. But most of all it relied on her finding the little path off to the right of the main paved walkway which disappeared into the trees and eventually led to a small open area next to the lion’s den where there was no glass, just wire mesh.
Tallulah kept her eyes peeled for the small gap, she’d found it plenty of times before and she was sure she could find it again, she just need to find it with no one else watching. While the teachers were her main concern there was plenty of other visitors as well, she was going to have to rely on the fact that most people just didn’t make a scene when they saw something out of the ordinary, and a little girl walking into the trees by herself was definitely out of the ordinary.
Up ahead Tallulah noticed what she thought was the gap, she looked up at the group ahead of her Miss Granger was well ahead and not looking back, she looked around her, no one appeared to be watching. With on eye firmly on the gap Tallulah drifted to her right trying not to draw attention to herself. Then at the last moment she stepped sideways, ducked under a low tree and disappeared into the trees.
It was too late to worried about if she had managed to make it unseen so Tallulah concentrated on her immediate task, following the path without running into a low hanging tree. She walked, crouched, and crept along the wooded path not needing to know where to go because there was only one direction. By the time her classmates were crowded around one of the lions den viewing sections she was approaching the wire meshed fence.
As she approached the fence she heard a voice. “Hello Tallulah!”
Tallulah was not shocked and was not frightened she simply walked up to the fence, put her open hand on the mesh as replied, “Hello Leo!”
It was a cliched name for a lion but when she’d made friends with the lion at the exact same spot one day while her parents were off at the snack stand to get something for lunch that’s exactly what the lion insisted she called him.
“What can I help you with today?” Leo asked as he placed his large paw on his side of the mesh in the exact spot Tallulah’s hand was.
Tallulah sat down on the dirt and opened her notepad. “I chose to do my assignment on lions, Leo, I’m here for you to give me all the information you can. I want the sort of things that aren’t in text books. I want the sort of things Google doesn’t know.”
“Google knows everything.” Leo replied with a grin. “That’s one thing you can put in your report that you wont find on Google. Lions are the comedians of the jungle, we crack every animal up with our wit.”
Tallulah started taking notes. Every question she asked Leo answered. Every answer Tallulah jotted down. Each answer she got gave her another question to ask and after twenty minutes of writing and talking Tallulah knew she had to finish up and rejoin her classmates.
“Leo, I have to go before the class notices me missing.”
“Oh okay, Tallulah.” Leo said with a small tear in his eye. “When will you be back?”
Tallulah thought about it for a few seconds and responded. “Next weekend.”
“Oh great, it’s Kimba’s birthday next Sunday, any chance you’ll be around for that?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world Leo.”
Tallulah and Leo parted ways and within three minutes Tallulah had cut her way through the trees, around the side of the lion enclosure, past the tigers, waving at Tickles as she went, then out onto the path less than fifteen meters behind her classmates and teachers who hadn’t even noticed her missing.
Tallulah couldn’t wait to get home and write up her assignment, she knew her work would be like no other student and she looked forward to getting her work marked as much as she looked forward to writing it up.
The three days Tallulah had to wait for Miss Granger to mark her assignment was the longest three days of her life and she couldn’t hide her excitement as the teacher handed her assignment back to her laying it face down on her desk.
“I’m surprised in your work Tallulah!” Miss Granger said before moving on to the next student.
Tallulah flipped over her assignment and looked at the front page which when it was handed in only had her name, her class number and the word LIONS! Written on it. Immediately she noticed the red writing on the nearly blank page.
“Tallulah you can do so much better.
There is no evidence to prove lions are the comedians of the jungle.
Lions don’t have parties
And Lions don’t talk
You should have researched your topic not made things up
C+ (and consider that a charity pass because of your previous good grades)”
Tallulah looked hard at the big red C+, a mark she rarely got on any assignment. A smile formed on her face and she began to laugh quietly to herself.
“If only Miss Granger was smart enough to know!” she whispered so that no one could hear.