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Back to School

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionThis week writers unpacked their book bags and delved into school. From slates to bullies, kindergarten to college, boys and girls feature in this week’s flash fiction. Grab an apple and read the stories that made the grade.

Stories are based on the August 20, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about school.

Chocolate Balls by Norah Colvin

The final school bell tolled and the students erupted from the building like a burst box of chocolate balls, scattering in every direction and at varying speeds. Some stuck together along pathways safe and sure. Others crashed and bumped over roads less traveled seeking excitement, new discoveries and secrets to explore. Others stopped abruptly, their journeys foiled by stubborn obstacles. Still others, rolling upwards, failed to maintain the momentum to carry them over and beyond with those more adventurous others.

Who would know?

Inside the box, they were identical, centers hidden. Outside, their uniqueness was on show.

###

Kindergarten Days by Sarah Unsicker

It was the first week of Kindergarten, and Chelsea was already tired of sitting in her chair. She had spent most of the long summer outside. The transition from summer to the school day had been torture.

Mrs. Smith handed out worksheets. Was expected to copy some strange doodle.

Chelsea didn’t understand why she had to learn to write numbers. She wondered how anyone could differentiate the squiggles. Chelsea stared at the paper for a minute before the bell rang. It was time for recess! She would gladly take this work home if she could go outside to play.

###

Academic Advice by Larry LaForge

Coach Bruno Culberston counseled his football team the day before school started.

“Sit in the front row,” he told his troops. “Make frequent eye contact with the professor.”

He asked an assistant coach to demonstrate proper sitting posture.

Coach Culbertson continued. “Always look interested. Write stuff down in your notebook. Nod your head in agreement when the prof makes a point.”

The players took it all in.

“Remember, always call your teachers Doctor, even if they’re not.”

After several more imperatives, a kid in the back raised his hand. “Coach, what about studying?”

“Oh.” replied the coach. “That too.”

*********
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.

###

School Flash by Irene Waters

“Come on. We’ll be late.” Billy urged.

“I don’t wanna go.” said Harry.

“But it’s fun. Readin’, Ritin ‘n Rithmetic. Hurry up.”

“I should be helping at home with the milking.”

“You wanna do that for ever.”

“Too right I wanna. What else would I do? Soon as I’m fourteen I’m out of here.”

“Not me. My kids are gonna wear shoes.”

 

“Help me Harry. All these blasted forms. Never thought I’d need the three R’s. Blast this government. Blast this GST.”

“Lucrative business accountancy these days Bill. I’m sure glad I put my head down and studied hard.”

###

A Father’s Pain by Charli Mills

Deputy Coffey left the McCandles house after informing Cob’s father of his son’s disappearance. And of the charges.

James stood in the parlor, staring at the framed tintype of his son in military uniform. He was never meant to be a soldier, but a scholar. His son–David Colbert. Cob to family and friends. He grabbed the frame, ready to smash it on the plank-wood floor. Instead, he hugged it to his chest and sagged to the floor, careful not to make a sound. He didn’t want to distress his wife.

“Oh, my son. That woman wasted your schooling.”

###

School Flash by Anne Goodwin

Twin stone staircases led to a wooden door, the numbers 1873 embossed above, grand as the entrance to a castle. At school I’d learn to read, and never have to go without a story. I’d mount those steps like a fairytale princess, entering one day by the left side, the next the right.

I didn’t realise the letters above the stairs spelt BOYS on one side and GIRLS on the other. That my mother would laugh, plead, then slap me on the legs and hoist me up like a sack of coal when I raced towards the wrong one.

###

Nervously Waiting For the Strap to Come Out by Susan Zutautas

Nervously I waited for the door to the principal’s office to open. What was I thinking kissing Josh at the assembly this morning?

“Miss Varden please come in,” summoned Principal Green. “Have a seat. Since we both know why you are here today, I would like to know if you have read the student handbook that you received upon registering here at Bishop Allen Catholic Academy.”

“Yes sir I have.”

“Did you read the rules relating to student conduct?”

“Yes.”

“What does it say about public displays of affection Miss Varden?”

“That it is not allowed here at school.”

###

Stalked by Paula Moyer

When looking back on sixth grade, Jean knew something was amiss, but
what? If she simply said “I had trouble connecting with Mrs. O’Brien,”
what was she leaving out?

It was the eyes, watching her as they watched no other student. What
was it about her eyes?

Years later, as a grown woman, Jean was walking her dog. As she left
the house, she saw the neighborhood feral cat scrutinizing a bird.
When she came back: no cat, no bird. Just a pile of feathers.

Then she knew. The cat had Mrs. O’Brien’s look. Jean was her teacher’s prey.

###

Back to School by Ruchira Khanna

Pedro ran through the checklist once again the night before the big day; making sure he does not forget anything.

Slept on time with the excitement to meet his friends the next day, and describe all his summer adventures. The idea of studies and homework was just a thought, yet!

Dawn arrives, and he was quick to get ready without any reminders.

Reached school, and was devastated to learn that he and his friends were in different classes.
He was sitting in a class with new faces.

However, his temperament and desire made him new friends in no time.

###

Back to School by Sarah Brentyn

Susan sat in class as obscene rumors about her were whispered near her ear. Nasty notes always seemed to show up on her desk. She was shoved in the hallways and tripped in gym.

School looked different to Susan than it did to other students.

Bathrooms weren’t places to pee or fix makeup, they were hiding spots to catch her breath and cover up bruises. Lockers weren’t spaces to keep her books, they were instruments of torture and confinement.

But Susan didn’t run from misery, she gathered strength from it. And she looked forward to her high school reunion

###

Mighty by Pete

Clutching my bag I take a deep breath, comforted by the fact that I’ve already read the entire English book and Mom’s tutored me with the math all summer. She’s a good teacher, but still, I missed over 100 days last year.

I hear the nerves in her voice. She tells me to pace myself, to remember what Dr. P said. I hate the fact that I have to choose. I’m tired just thinking about it. School is the last chance I have at being a normal kid, and I’m not ready to surrender that to some stupid disease.

###

Accidental Kidnap by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mrs North? This is Penny’s form teacher, Miss Marks.’

‘Yes?’ Mary turned away so not as to be overheard.

‘Penny says her uncle is collecting her from school today. As we have never met him we like to check…’

‘What? Now, listen to me…’

Mary wished the solicitor wasn’t listening. When she finished, he asked, ‘Sorted?’

‘Far from it.’

‘Were you talking about Rupert?’

‘Yes, my bloody half-brother. I have to go.’ She stood and said, ‘He said Penny had asked to see his mother. Can you believe that?’

To Mary’s surprise he said, ‘Yes, I think I can.’

###

Remembering School in Elmira by Charli Mills

Mama washed my hair the night before, braiding it tight the next morning. I had a slate board and chalk—expensive luxuries. Papa had already left to pound spikes so he missed seeing my gleaming black braids with yellow ribbons. Mama watched me cross the tracks to the new schoolhouse before she returned to doing the rail-men’s laundry.

“Addio, mia cara,” she called as I walked away. To school. I cannot tell you how much it meant to Mama and Papa that their only child would get to go to school. “L’America è buono,” they’d say despite cracked hands.

###

New prompt on Wednesday. All writers welcome!

Back to School (1)

August 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionIn front of the old Elmira Schoolhouse a yellow bus stops for the smattering of school children in Elmira. The bus is not dropping off students, but taking them 15 miles away to a bigger school district. One-room schoolhouses such as the one next to my house are obsolete.

Despite several signs on the road, Elmira is a ghost town. The houses that spread out along this valley are rural homes. The original town-houses that  once contained families of the Italian immigrants who worked on the railroads are long gone. But evidently they believed in education.

All that remains of Elmira are her two original schoolhouses.

Places are like that. Function wanes; populations fluctuate and purposes change. Writer, Geoff Le Pard tells of a strange, abandoned place in England called Orford Ness. Another such abandoned place–yet not as bonkers as Orford Ness–is Rock Creek, Nebraska.

Here was a way station on the Oregon Trail. So many pioneers passed through Rock Creek that wagon-wheel ruts where grass doesn’t grow still exit. This was the station that a North Carolinian man bought while fleeing a money swindle as his former position of sheriff. He was headed to the goldfields of Colorado but met so many returning miners with empty pockets that he invested his money (or the money of others, perhaps) in Rock Creek.

Cob McCandles promptly built a toll bridge and started making money by charging the pioneer wagon trains that passed through. He built up the place, settled his mistress, Sarah Shull, built another station on the west side and sent his brother Leroy to fetch his family. One can only imagine the tensions that must have existed in Rock Creek.

Often, among the first structures built by pioneers was the schoolhouse. These one-room structures dotted the prairie and like the two in Elmira, stand as silent sentinels to the belief in education. All that exists of Rock Creek today are the reconstructed buildings of the east station (that housed the ill-fated Pony Express where Hickok shot McCandles) and a schoolhouse.

Despite Cob’s initial construction for prosperity, he too, had been influenced by schooling. In fact, Cob’s father was a school teacher as well as a cabinet-maker and a fiddler. Some early historians claim that Cob was given great advantages of schooling beyond what was normal for his region during his era. We do know that he went to military school, and my focus this week is to identify which school he went to and to request any records on Cob that might exist.

So, you might say we are joining the back-to-school movement this week. This week’s prompt is based on a theme, that of schooling. What is so important about schooling that it travels with us through migrations and wars, good times and bad? Yesterday’s schooling was so important that communities pooled resources to build a structure and hire a teacher. Think of the impact schooling–or a lack of it–might have on a character.

August 20, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about school. The setting can be a school, involve students and teachers or can be about schooling in general. How has school influenced a place or a character? Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, August 26 to be included in the compilation.

This week, I’ve written two pieces–one to continue the story of Cob McCandless, and one to honor the Elmira Schoolhouse.

Back to School (1)

Remembering School in Elmira by Charli Mills

Mama washed my hair the night before, braiding it tight the next morning. I had a slate board and chalk—expensive luxuries. Papa had already left to pound spikes so he missed seeing my gleaming black braids with yellow ribbons. Mama watched me cross the tracks to the new schoolhouse before she returned to doing the rail-men’s laundry.

“Addio, mia cara,” she called as I walked away. To school. I cannot tell you how much it meant to Mama and Papa that their only child would get to go to school. “L’America è buono,” they’d say despite cracked hands.

###

A Father’s Pain by Charli Mills

Deputy Coffey left the McCandles house after informing Cob’s father of his son’s disappearance. And of the charges.

James stood in the parlor, staring at the framed tintype of his son in military uniform. He was never meant to be a soldier, but a scholar. His son–David Colbert. Cob to family and friends. He grabbed the frame, ready to smash it on the plank-wood floor. Instead, he hugged it to his chest and sagged to the floor, careful not to make a sound. He didn’t want to distress his wife.

“Oh, my son. That woman wasted your schooling.”

###

Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.