January 17, 2018
By , Berkeley, CA

He staggers onto his front stoop hours after he was supposed to be home. From inside the house, his mother watches him carefully open the door and try to sneak upstairs without telling his latest lie as to why part of his face is bloodied and swollen.
“Tell me,” she says, freezing him in place, “What’s your story this time.”
He cringes, and slowly makes his way over to her.
“I have no excuse tonight, But when you punish me, take this story into account”
“This isn’t your usual strategy for getting out of trouble,” his mother says wryly.
“Just trust me on this one, listen.”
“This happened to… a kid in my class today,” he begins. “This kid had to make up an oral report for english from last week”
His mom smiled inwardly. She now knew what he was doing. He had missed that report, and as far as she knew, he was the only one in the class who had.
“So this kid gets up to speak, and realized he had forgotten his notes, but he still has to do his speech. He decides to wing it. Unfortunately, as soon as he gets up in front of the class, he forgets what he is even supposed to talk about.”
Now his mother knows he is talking about himself. It sounds like something he would do.
“Listen! Ok, so he looks around the classroom for anything that might help him remember what his topic is, and his gaze falls on a poster of the white house. That gives him an idea: maybe he can distract his classmates by talking about politics. It might even be his topic. Without thinking, he blurts out, ‘America is bad!’
This make everyone laugh a little. They know that he has forgotten his topic again.
Embarrassed, he starts over. ‘Our president is mean!’
By the time he says that, his teacher is already telling him to go sit down.”
“How is this story helping you get out of trouble,” his mother says. “It just sounds like you weren’t prepared for an assignment. I should punish you more”
“Wait,” the boy says, “hear me out.”
“This kid goes back to his seat with his head hung in shame. His classmates tripped him, and laughed at him. The worst part was that the teacher did nothing to stop it. At lunchtime, some 8th graders cornered him behind the school building.
‘We were told you were not prepared for a report,’ they taunted, pushing him a little.
‘Why do you care,’ he shouted back, tears coming to his eyes.
‘We just want you to succeed. Why don't we give you a little lesson about why you should care about school.’
Then the biggest one stepped forward and hit him so hard he flew around in a circle and collapsed. Through the tears in his eyes, he thought he could see his teacher leaning against the wall and chuckling a little.”
This last part was a lie and his mother knew it. For one thing, there weren't any 8th graders at her son’s school. It was an elementary school.
“Stop spacing out and listen!” the boy says, tugging on his Mother’s arm a little. “After the boy eventually gets up, he runs to his teacher’s classroom to tell her what happened. Instead of getting the big kids in trouble however, she just starts laughing. The boy, confused, waits for her to stop. He waits for like ten minutes before she stops, wiping tears out of her eyes. ‘I told those kids to beat you up,’ she says harshly, ‘you deserved it.’
Then, she gets up and with a shriek of rage and starts sprouting wings and horns and a tail, and then she starts flying towards me with her claws outstretched, and”
“How long did it take you to come up with this lie. I know your story was supposed to be about you.” she laughs.
“Come on,” he complains, “I haven't even gotten to the part with the zombies or the sharks yet.”
His mother laughs even harder. “Why did you really come home so late with a bloody face.”
“I fell down the stairs at school, and I didn’t want you to fuss over me.” he mumbles.
“Then why did you tell the story like that?” she says, “‘It seemed like it was fishing for pity”
He shrugs and digs around in his backpack. “At least I got a good grade on my report, I didn’t actually forget what I was supposed to say.”
His mom takes the paper he offered her and raises an eyebrow. “A d plus is not a good grade…”

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