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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Phew! (02/11/10)

By Oni Mustapha Abu Bakar


Reuben accepted the fact that doomsday had arrived.

“This is judgement day,” he muttered.

Over his desk, a fat boy, blond, with thick hands and seemingly looking over-aged waved at Reuben to cease his attention.

“What?” Leave me alone.”

Oops, Nah, Reuben realized he was about compounding his problem. He just shouted at the Number one bully of the school. With immediate effect, he had to carry the responsibility of annulling this grave wrong he had done.

“I am sorry, Fred but ...”

Big dogs don’t bark: Fred knew his throne as the king of the class was as intact as the sun’s space up in the sky. Not as Reuben had thought, the integrity of Fred’s ego was still solid.

“But what?” You are not the first person to get two ‘F’s in a report card? Are you, huh?”

“No, I am not...”

Quickly, Fred the bully, interpolated, “Then what?”

“I am trying to be reasonable.”

“Reasonable about what?”

Fred’s rhetoric questions were for one purpose; to compel Reuben to accept that ‘F’s meant nothing.

Well, a term ago, Reuben went with Fred’s crazy school of thought when he had bagged an F. When he had gone home with his card, his Dad made him figure out that ‘F’s were sins; he thought him that by ceasing his video games.

“If it happens again, I would do what you least expect,” he had shouted at him and banged the door close.

Reuben would not like to see his Dad do what he least expected. In one book, he had read that disciplinarians loved nothing but exerting discipline on others.

“I mean, everybody at home is waiting to see my report card.”

“And so what?”

“I would be punished severely, Fred.”

He chuckled, the bully.

“This is what I do every term, I take some stuff, name withheld, rub it over my grades and change them.”

“Huh?” Reuben hummed, amazingly.

“Yep, as simple as that.”

“I can’t do that. It would hurt my Dad more if he discovers I was trying to fake my grades.”

“And if he doesn’t?”

“I don’t want to do this.”

“Okay, stay cool, take your result to him and get the punishment. For me, I am out of here.”

Fred grabbed his bag and headed for the door.

“Hey?” Reuben called.

“What dude?”

“Let’s do it. I want to do it.”

“Good boy, you are. Now, you are a big boy.”

Reuben slung his bag over the shoulder and followed Fred out of the class. Fear was stinging his heels. Behind Fred, he trailed as if he were a bodyguard.

“Walk with me, boy.”

“Reuben?” a familiar feminine voice called from behind

Swiftly, the lad turned back. At the mouth of the class door was his class teacher, Mrs Deborah Whitewood.

“Hi, Auntie Debbie.”

“Come over here,” She ordered

Torn in between heaven and hell, Reuben glanced at the demon for now, Fred. The bully winked at him encouraging the boy to walk up to Mrs Deborah. With the pace of a snail, Reuben walked up to his teacher.

“Phew,” he drew a long, frustrating wheeze, knowing he was in for Mrs Deborah’s nagging

As he drew closer to her, the class teacher shouted at the bully to vanish.

“Do you really intend to change your grades?” She asked, her goggles still on her eyes at the mercy of the support her nose gave.

“Ma...” he stammered, confused and scared at the same time.

“Don’t lie. I was listening. I had been watching both of you from the window side.”

“Ma, yes. I am scared of what my Dad would do.”

“You should have approached me instead. I have told you several times to stop hanging out with Fred. He is no good company.”

“I am sorry Ma.”

“If you change your grades and eventually your dad discovers, you would end up in more trouble.”

“I am sorry,” the lad repeated helplessly.

“I understand Reuben. I would talk to your dad but you have to change.”

“I will.”

She added with a smile, Never you cook for demons. Let me take you home.”

Just as he had done minutes ago, this time, he trailed behind his teacher to a BMW at the school’s parking space, thanking the Good Lord for a solution, which he had thought, had dissolved.

"Phew," he wheezed, warming up for the confrontation with his dad.

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Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp02/19/10
I'm not sure if it is just me or not but I got confused and couldn't keep up. Your message I believe: Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals? Just wasn't sure about never cooking for Demons and was the teacher, his mother?
Marie Fink02/20/10
Interesting story of peer pressure and someone stepping in to save another. Upon thinking on it a bit, I'm guessing that, "Never cook for demons," must be something similar to not casting your pearls before swine.
stanley Bednarz02/20/10
"Never Cook For Demons," May not be readily understood by a family of faith all over the world, that's what makes writing tricky sometimes.

In your later dialogue you did better without tags, but read aloud how it sounds to say, Quickly, Fred the bully, interpolated.

Read Lisa Mikatarian's pieces esp. on dialogue, and creating the simplicity of voice in her work.

Trust me when I say we all work hard at this. Never give up. We learn everyday.