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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Elementary School (07/19/04)

TITLE: Be afraid...be very afraid...
By Lynda Lee Schab


Her lip trembled but she refused to be a crybaby.

Her hands were shaking. In fact, most of her was shaking. "Stop that!" she demanded through clenched teeth. But her hands wouldn't listen, and neither would her legs, which at the moment felt like two strands of spaghetti.

It irked her that she was so nervous! So what if this was her first day; lots of people had first days. Come on - it was sixth grade, for goodness sake! She tried to convince herself there was nothing to be worried about but the pep talk wasn't working. All she wanted to do was run back home to her bed, dive under the covers, and not emerge until the school year was over.

But that was not an option.

Her mother's words came back to her, uninvited, but they were somewhat comforting, nonetheless. "When in doubt, pray."

So she prayed - quick, inaudible prayers under her breath. And then she prayed some more, hoping like crazy that God was listening. She was scared. She felt like a big baby. Suddenly the tears threatened again. But no - she would not cry. She would march into class with her head held high, ready for battle. She bit back her tears and stood up straight.

What was that verse in Proverbs her mom quoted the other day from The Message Bible? She was always quoting Proverbs from The Message. She said The Message was easier to understand, told it just how it is. She couldn't argue with that. Oh yeah, she remembered now: Proverbs 21:31: "Do your best, prepare for the worst - then trust God to bring victory" Well, she was certainly prepared for the worst. Would God bring the victory or would she go down, defeated?

She peered into the classroom through the glass window. Everyone was talking, laughing, shooting paper wads, obviously comfortable with each other. How would they respond to her, to someone new? She looked from face to face, trying to determine which ones were part of the popular cliques, who were the noisy troublemakers and who were the quiet ones…the quiet ones were the ones she would be drawn to. The loud, obnoxious ones intimidated her somehow and made her feel small.

Again, she reminded herself…this is sixth grade! You can do it!

Her heart was thumping out of her chest and she took a few deep breaths to calm herself. "I can do this," she said aloud. "God will bring the victory."

She put her hand on the doorknob and began to turn it. She watched through the glass as heads started turning as well. Voices grew quiet, chairs stopped scraping, paper wads stayed where they landed.

She stepped into the classroom and looked around, a lump forming in her throat. Should she say something? It looked like everyone was waiting for her to say something. Maybe she should introduce herself.

"H - Hi. My name is Miss Lewis. And I - I'm your substitute teacher."

And a paper wad hit her square in the forehead. The initiation process had begun.

As she peeled the wet wad from her skin, only one thought permeated her mind, another of her mother's famous quotes from Proverbs: "A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered."

Yes, she had reason to be afraid. Sixth grade children could be so cruel…

Lynda Schab
Copyright 2004

Member Comments
Member Date
J. C. Lamont07/26/04
This stroy was very cute, I loved the descriptions, especially the spaghetti legs.
Corinne Smelker 07/26/04
Good story - I didn't figure out it was the teacher until just before you revealed it!
darlene hight07/26/04
Good Story!
Jean Boulmay07/26/04
I loved it!
Angela Moore07/26/04
Wonderful story! I love stories with a twist at the end.
Deborah Anderson07/26/04
Very, very clever. I loved the way you did this story.
I was feeling so sorry for the small child bravely entering school, and was surprised to find out it was the teacher all along.
What a good belly laugh this gave me when it all hit home at the end.
This was great! :-)
God bless you in Jesus Name.
L.M. Lee07/26/04
oh this was great! I have to send this to my mom...she's a sub.
Melanie Kerr 07/27/04
Very clever twist to your story. I was a substitute teacher in a high school for a while - it is a scary job to do.
Marcell Billinghurst07/27/04
A very humorous story. Very true of people getting out of their comfort zones and trying something new. Expect the unexpected.
Karen Treharne07/28/04
Lynda this was a great story. Well-written to the end. I wonder if you could rethink the end, though, to follow the feel of the article? Up to the last sentence, it was apparent that she was a teacher and that being clobbered was the result of her own doing. To me the last sentence should be a humorous comment by the sub (you?), at least for submission purpose. I'm sure, if this is a true story, that it happened just as you wrote it, but as a submission, you might tweek the ending to make it match the rest. My meager opinion, only, 'cause I enjoyed every bit of it, and could feel your fear and concern with every word. Good job!
Jan Warrick07/29/04
I love your story! Your surprise ending is great. I never suspected the character was the teacher. You did a great job.

Brenda Fletcher07/31/04
TOOOOO CUTE! I love it! Very nicely written. Thank you!
Beth Muehlhausen06/22/05
Great spin on the main character! Ha ha, who would have thought the TEACHER was freaked out!!! Interesting. Makes me think about vulnerability...and what frightens me...and where my strength comes from.
Jacquelyn Horne06/25/07
This is good. I can see why it was a winner.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/25/07
Having been a jr and sr high teacher and currently a sub, I felt the end coming in my bones. It is delightful and well deserving of a win.
Seema Bagai 06/26/07
As a teacher, I can certainly relate to the main character's feelings. Great job.
Joanne Sher 06/26/07
Oh, Lynda - have I ever BEEN there! This is spot-on as far as accuracy, yet I did NOT see it coming! Great description and characterization. Loved it!
Sharlyn Guthrie06/27/07
This is great! I loved the twist, which I didn't anticipate at all. And with 6th graders...she has every reason to be afraid! LOL
Loren T. Lowery06/27/07
I can see why you rank so high in the FW Placement Rankings. Your writings are simply fun to read and leave you feeling good about the time you spent follwing the stories.

I was not anticpating the ending either, but I could easily identify with both scenarioes. My only thought was that I was not that mature as a sixth grader and when teaching art, I was never that well prepared.