A Story by Vian

True story about the unending terror that another human once inspired in me.



The day had begun like every other before it. I woke up to my mother's yell and put my blank workbook into my backpack while the familiar sludge of dread sat heavily in my stomach stealing my appetite. I took slow reluctant steps, avoiding the cracks as I followed my brother to school.

The sludge sat undisturbed even when I’d arrived at school and waited nervously outside my third grade classroom. Maybe it had gotten a little heavier as I tracked my teachers form with my eyes as she came closer. I didn't make a sound when the rest of the class greeted her brightly. I wished she would go away and take the pulsing fear with her.

The cold heavy feeling morphed into nervous butterflies at the slightest mention of homework. My mind was occupied thinking of excuses and praying that maybe she would forget the homework check as she never had before. The butterflies surged upwards into my throat and my heart beat sped up when she announced homework checks. My teacher sat at her desk with a brand new pad of butterfly and dragonfly stickers on her hand waiting for the students to line up. I felt like running away but trudged to the back of the long snaking line. Every student waited eager to be praised for their completed homework and receive a shiny sticker. I didn't do my homework again. After a terrifying eternity it was my turn.

She looked at me expectantly. When I didn't move she sternly said “Show me your homework,”

My face burned and hot tears threatened to escape my eyes. I did not allow them to. I opened the workbook to the first page and began flipping through every page, pretending not to know it was on page thirty-three. When I got nearer to the assigned page I slowed down more and fumbled with the pages and acted as though the pages were stuck together before finally showing the blank pages to her.

“Do you have a note?” she asked, knowing I didn't, I never did.

My sweaty hands clenched and unclenched at my sides and unseen I bit the inside of my cheek. I could tell her that I did have note, that I lost the note. I could lie. I opened my mouth a fraction of a centimeter to spit out an elaborate lie but all that came out was a choked, “No. I forgot to do it.” I didn't forget. I never forget anything.

The butterflies transformed into a swarm of angry wasps and crashed in disjointed patterns in my stomach. Now my legs shook too. I stood expecting a horrible outburst, for her to threaten me with a trip to the principal’s office.

Nothing came; she simply said, “Don’t forget next time. You won’t learn anything if you keep forgetting your work."

Her words brought the tears threateningly close to falling but I valiantly tried to keep them in. There wasn't any reason to cry, I told myself. The tears slowly receded as I walked back to my desk without a word, they must have been tears of relief.

The school day continued. The world had not suddenly collapsed around me nor was I suddenly struck dead. Just like every other time before. I walked on my tip toes anyway. I feared that maybe if I wasn't careful the Gods would seek retribution for my incomplete homework.

The rest of the school day passed torturously slowly.

I returned home the same way I’d arrived, only lighter. School was over. At home I stayed out from under foot and soon enough night came.

I lay in bed knowing that I hadn't done today’s homework either. A queer feeling washed over me as I imagined my raging teacher when she saw my unfinished homework, only, I couldn't because I had never seen her angry. I wondered if her brows would furrow like my grandfather’s did or her voice would sharpen like my grandmother’s did.

Well then, I continued to myself, what would she do to me? She will of course sit in her cushy spinning chair and make those disappointed sighing sounds at me and then make a red 'X' beside my name and then- nothing. Nothing ever happened. Mom was never home to receive the calls and grandma and grandpa don’t know English. Not even God had inflicted some horrible punishment on me.

I realized I had nothing to fear. She could not do anything but say the same thing she did today and all the days before. I slept peacefully that night. For the first time in what felt like forever. The next morning I didn't even try to fill in any questions last minute. She didn't actually care whether it was done or not, she was probably really glad that that was one less sticker wasted.

© 2014 Vian

Author's Note

True story, well, as true as memory serves. What do you think?

My Review

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It sounds like a classic case of anxiety. I think you did an excellent job of capturing it with the way it turns a rather mediocre issue into something horrifying for the one feeling it. Hmm, I suppose a name to the character would have been nice, though. Nevertheless, it was good.

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Thank you for the wonderful review. I did, though, leave the character nameless specifically so it i.. read more
I really felt for this narrator. I was a highly ambitious child with impossible standards for myself. I never once forgot my homework in the third grade. My teacher had a sticker chart, and I didn't really care for the stickers that each completed homework earned me, but I did fear the black 'X' that lack of homework would give me. I forgot lost my homework in second grade and I cried and panicked as if that was the very worst thing in the world, and I remember my teacher hugging me and saying that people forget sometimes and it was fine because I always had my homework every other day.

In short, I really connected to this story, and it was penned very well. Even though the characters remained nameless, I felt as though I really knew them. Thank you for writing such wonderful work, and jogging my childhood memories!

Posted 7 Years Ago


7 Years Ago

I am glad to have jogged past memories and connected to you through this screen.
I think this was en excellent portrayal of adolescence and how it is so easy to brush off worries as a child.

Posted 7 Years Ago


7 Years Ago

Thank you for reviewing and sharing your perspective.

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3 Reviews
Added on January 4, 2014
Last Updated on January 4, 2014
Tags: Homework, Fear, Terror, Teacher, Incomplete, School, Learning, Lesson, Scared, Horror, Disappointment



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