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My Cow Ate My Homework
Mr. Doodle was his alarm clock.
Swallowed by the darkness, five-year-old Alan stumbled into his worn overalls and into the barn where Bertha was swollen with milk. The stench of manure mixed with the sweet scent of hay, creating a perfume that jolted him into consciousness.
“Hey Bertha,” Alan croaked, patting her warm back. “Time for breakfast.”
Alan forked Bertha’s hay into her trough, then plunked down on his stool to milk her. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his homework to study for that day’s math test.
“Two plus two...” Alan recited sleepily. “Five?”
Bertha’s warm wet nose nudged Alan’s ear, bumping him into consciousness.
“Oh no,” Alan groaned, dashing outside and grabbing his satchel.
The river cut through the autumn hued fields, dividing his father’s land from his neighbor’s. Alan raced to school, swinging his schoolbooks from the leather strap that bound them together.
Alan was at his desk when he was frozen by a sudden terrible realization—he had left his homework in the barn.
“Please pass your homework to the front,” Mrs. Stone commanded, rapping her palm with her pointer.
Gulping, Alan raised his hand.
“Umm…I k-kind of—” stuttered Alan.
“Spit it out boy,” Mrs. Stone hissed. “I haven’t got all day.”
“I forgot my homework in the barn,” confessed Alan miserably.
“Tsk, tsk,” Mrs. Stone muttered. “Today’s homework is worth a third of your grade. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go to the Principal’s office. Go on now.”
Paralyzed with anxiety, Alan tottered to the office of the infamous Principal Whacker. I hope I come out alive…
Alan sat glumly on the hard bench outside the principal’s office, kicking the cement with his sandals. Surrounding him were other truants, their expression equally glum as they waited for doom.
“So what’s he like?” a boy with freckles on his nose asked his friend.
“Who, Principal Whacker?” his friend retorted.
“Yeah,” Freckles groaned.
His friend shuddered. “Oh, you don’t wanna know. I still have some scars from last time.”
Alan’s eyes widened, and his heart thunked in his chest. Now he really wished he hadn’t forgotten his homework. Bertha was probably chewing it up at this moment for breakfast.
Whacker’s door flew open, and a little girl skipped out smiling.
“Who’s next?” Whacker grinned.
That’s strange, Alan thought. Why is she so happy? Alan shrunk into the bench, trying to become invisible as Whacker scanned the room for his next victim.
Whacker pointed his finger at Freckles. “You,” he barked. “In here. Now.”
Five minutes later, Freckles emerged beaming.
Scratching his head, Alan wondered why everyone came out so happy. He would find out soon enough.
“MR. KLEIN!!” Principal Whacker shouted.
Alan sat up poker-straight and quivered to his feet as Whacker led him into his office.
Alan trickled inside with all the enthusiasm of a corpse. This was it. He was doomed.
“So, Mr. Klein,” Principal Whacker said, towering over his desk like an obese monster. “Do you know why you’re here?”
“Yes,” Alan squeaked.
“And you know the consequences?” Whacker roared.
“No…” Alan gulped.
“Well you know, boy,” Whacker said reflectively, “When I was your age, I forgot my homework too.”
“You did?” Alan asked, with courage this time.
“Yup. My dog Buster loved to eat my homework for breakfast. Especially my math homework—that was his favorite,” Whacker laughed.
“So what happened?” Alan giggled.
“This happened,” Whacker grinned, pointing to his desk. “I scare boys for a living.”
Alan tried to imagine what it would be like to never leave school, and to work at a place where everyone was afraid of you. “I’m sorry,” Alan said, looking at Whacker sympathetically.
“Yeah,” Whacker sighed. “That’s what happens if you don’t do your homework!”
Alan looked grave, and then he smiled. “Thank you, Principal Whacker.”
And from that day on, Alan made sure Bertha never ate his homework again.