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The Firecracker

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It was a gloomy, rainy morning, and as usual we students were stuck in school listening to our teacher, Mrs. Crane, talk on about the importance of reading. Peggy was passed out on her desk snoring quietly, and only the teacher seemed to ignore the fact that she was asleep. Matt kept glancing at Nancy in secret admiration, and Charlie was preparing a paper airplane to throw at Timmy. And then there was Bill. He sat in the corner, arms tightly crossed and staring angrily at nothing.

Bill was always angry, I think because he was what Mrs. Crane called a ‘special needs child’. If anyone whispered a comment about him, he would glare at the person as if he was planning to take them down at recess. No one dared to claim friendship with him, and no one tried to be kind. After all, Bill was like a firecracker that if set off could be dangerous.

It was on this fateful boring day that our young lives were changed. As Mrs. Crane talked on, she was interrupted by a knock at the door. All eyes except Bill’s turned towards the noise, and Mrs. Crane’s voice went silence. She walked quietly to the door and opened it to reveal our vice principal, Mr. Henry. He looked at Mrs. Crane and our class, playing with his mustache absent mindedly.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Crane, but may I take Bill for a few minutes?” Mr. Henry asked. His deep voice made us shiver.

“Of course,” Mrs. Crane replied. She looked towards Bill. He was still staring straight ahead as if his name had never been mentioned. “Bill, Mr. Henry would like to speak with you,” Mrs. Crane told him. Without a word, Bill stood grumpily and walked towards the door, all eyes following him in interest. He disappeared behind the door, and Mrs. Crane shut it gently after him. She returned to her place in the front of the room and continued with her lecture as if nothing had happened.

For the rest of the class no one could concentrate. We all wondered what was happening to Bill. Was he getting in trouble? Was Mr. Henry talking to his parents? No one seemed to have an answer.

**********

Bill didn’t show up for school the next day. Some kids said he was sick. Others thought he had been in a fight and got kicked out of school. His absence distracted us from the boredom of Mrs. Crane’s lectures, giving us a reason to talk and whisper to one another. Not even Peggy could fall asleep from curiosity.

As we walked out of class to go to lunch, still wondering about Bill, we spotted Mr. Henry in the hallway. He tried to hide his face when he saw us, but he wasn’t fast enough. On the right side of his face was a black eye that was just beginning to heal. It only took a moment for us to put the pieces together.

The firecracker had finally gone off.





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