The students shifted in their seats and exchanged glances as Lilian, her back to the audience, began to make peculiar huffing and hissing noises. Janie stood near the door so she could hear Mandy if she called her. Lilian hurled her body down on the floor. Lying on her back, she closed her eyes and raised her arms at right angles above her face. She let out a long howl, “Aaaaaaahhhhh, oooooohhhhh, aaaaahhhh.” Her voice rose and fell, deafeningly loud, then a tiny whisper. She kicked her legs. Janie thought she might be pretending to be a baby, but her voice was more like a siren. She went on and on. Janie’s ears were ringing. Lilian’s dress was riding up over her knees showing long pink knickers over the top of her tights. Just when Janie thought she couldn’t bear it any longer Lilian turned over onto her hands and knees, crawled to an arm chair and dragged herself to her feet. She stood swaying, her arms held out in front of her like a sleepwalker. What did it mean? It was like a kind of charade. Lilian began to speak, very quickly.
“Are you there, are you there, are you there, number please who are you number please are you there no don’t know don’t no don’t.”
She was really getting going now. It was like a steam engine getting started then going faster and faster and all the time Lilian was babbling,
“No oh no are you there no number please who whom who.”
Some words were very loud. Now she was marching up and down. Janie worried she would knock over a table. Helen and Rex had their hands over their mouths. John was looking at his watch, Marilyn had her mouth open in amazement, and Desma was nodding. Janie couldn’t take her eyes off Lilian. She kept on chattering more and more rapidly until it all sounded like one word, “Areyounumberwho nonowho?” and her voice sank to a whisper. Then she opened her eyes put her arms by her side and let out an earsplitting shriek.
She stopped and bowed from the waist, her arms hanging loose. Her hair had fallen down and she had sweat marks round the armpits of her navy dress. From her spot in the doorway Janie burst into loud applause and after a little delay the others followed. Lilian bowed again.
“Now,” she said with a smile, “who would care to venture a comment?”
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http://gertlovedaywriter.blogspot.com.au) writes with authority on peculiar diets, exercise regimes, body makeovers, extreme fashion, gurus, pigeons, religion, poetry, politics, the health bureaucracy, gourmet cooking, reality TV and literature from the Norse Sagas to Jeffrey Archer, with a sharp eye for character foibles and the pricking of pomposity.
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