Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Short, Short Story

(Note: I wrote this story while on a high school field trip to Wesleyan Writer's Workshop. We were all asked to write a story based on someone we had met. Austen Getner and I were both black belts in the same ATA martial arts academy. He was very short for his age, but never let it bother him, and he had an infectious personality.)

It was the long-dreaded first day of school, which as far as a twelve-year-old is concerned is a euphemism for doomsday. A life sentence after a glorious summer of adventure. The students who were most unhappy with having to come back darted to the desks in the back of the room, as though willing themselves as far away as possible from the center of learning. Near the front were the outcasts: the loners, nerds, freaks, and a boy who was noticeably shorter than anyone else in the room, with short blond hair and bright eyes. He seemed less devastated to have to be back than some of the others and actually wore a slight smile, which vanished when he felt a stabbing pain in the back of his head. He turned around furiously and saw on the floor the sharp pen which had been used as the missile, and near the back of the room, the student who had thrown it. “Hey guys, why do you think little Austen Gimpner always sits at the front? Is it just so he can be as close to the teacher as possible, or is it that he can’t see over anyone’s head?”

“No one can see past your swelled head, Boris.” said Austen. This won a hearty laugh from the nerds. Last year, Austen had been the only one with the spunk to stand up to Boris and his cronies. They were glad to see that Austen hadn’t changed.

“All right, class, that’s enough,” said a gruff voice. Everyone stopped talking. The teacher had been in the room the whole time, hidden from view by his large swivel chair which he turned around to face the class. “I’m Mr. Atlas. Welcome to the fifth grade.” As Mr. Atlas dropped from his chair, there was an audible gasp. He was barely four feet tall. “Let’s not waste any time. Grab a science text book and turn to chapter one,” he said reaching as high as he could to write on the chalkboard. “Oh, Boris is it?” he asked. “Try to keep your comments on Austen’s height to yourself, can you?”

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