FridayFlash: Back of the Class (Raw and Uncut)

n.b. I said I was going to post the raw and unedited version of my #FridayFlash, "Back of the Class", just "what came out of my fingertips under a Write or Die session - 995 words in 29 minutes". See, I have this tiny little voice inside my head that whispers to me, "Your first drafts don't suck... other people's first drafts, THEY suck... yours are basically perfect... your first drafts don't suck..."

This is, of course, nonsense. I try not to listen to that voice, but sometimes I am weak, and I convince myself that people might want to see my raw and unedited powerful voice of genius first draft.

Fortunately, rationality usually kicks in and I go back on that. Here is the edited version of "Back of the Class", posted this morning for #FridayFlash.

It seems, however, that I had already drawn some people into my delusion. Deanna and Maria and E.D. ... they all seem to want to see the first draft.

So, here it is. No formatting, no spell check, no editing, no nothing. This is a copy of the TXT file that came out of the Write or Die Desktop Edition, which I heartily recommend.

Ready to compare this with the final version? Here it is:

"Danny, I'm a little concerned about your behavior."

She said it in her warmest, most caring voice. At least, she hoped that was how it was coming across. She didn't like Danny Young. It was a terrible thing to admit to, even to herself. But there it was. He was a strange little boy. None of the other kids in her class liked him, either. That was a shame, but not unheard of. Third graders can be picky and clannish, much more so than their parents realized.

However, Allison always made it a point to find something likable about every child. Even the ones who had been truly terrible over the years, she'd found some way to at least pity them for their situations. She never blamed the child. It was brutish parents, poverty, circumstances beyond their control that made children difficult. She belived in every child in her class, every year. It was not just a saying or a pose. She cared about every child, and wanted them all to succeed.

Until Danny Young. She tried and tried to find some way to connect with him. After seven months, she finally admitted to herself that she did not want him to succeed. She just wanted him gone.

"What is it about my behavior that you're concerned about, Ms. Clarksen?"

It was like fingernails on a blackboard. The little bas... the little boy was always so calm! He never got upset or angry or out of line. He never misbehaved or spoke out of turn or turned his homework in only half-done.

But he never smiled. He never laughed. He didn't play with anyone. He was so... so... controlled! That was it, he was far too controlled for a nine year old boy. They should be wild, free spirits, eager to laugh or cry. Emotions should be running high in them, like waves crashing on a shore. But Dannny was like a still pond. No, even worse, she thought, he was like a frozen pond. Smooth, clear, motionless.


She shivered. This was another conference without a parent. Danny's parents never came to conferences. They signed all the permission slips, and corresponded with her by e.mail, but she had never met them. There had been other families in the past that didn't care about their children. It was a tragedy, but she reached out to the kids and helped them grow and move on into fourth grade. She hope that she made them better, but there was precious little a teacher could do for kids without a family.

She wondered what kind of parents Danny had.

"Ms. Clarksen?"

She started slightly, as he interrupted her thoughts. So damned polite. What was wrong with him, what was it about him that bothered her so?

"Danny, you made our visitor uncomfortable with your behavior today. This was the first time I've had to speak to you about paying attention in class."

"I'm sorry, Ms. Clarksen," he said, "it won't happen again."

Too quickly. He agreed too quickly. All of the other kids were bored to tears by Hua Feng's father. He was an engineer at the Cryodyne, the aerospace firm. A very smart man, no doubt, but his Chinese accent was so thick the class could barely understand him, and they were all chattering and twitching. Except for Danny. He was absolutely rapt by the tedious drone about circuits and electrons and surfaces and things. It made Danny's ouburst all the worse. Everyone had thought Mr. Feng was boring, but shouting it out in the middle of the presentations! The entire class had laughed, and poor Hua, already embarrassed about her father's poor English, was crying over how shamefully her father had been treated.

"Danny, it looked to me like you were actually listening to Mr. Feng. You were writing notes down, copying some of what he'd said. Why would you be so rude to him? Why did you say what you did? That he was... was boring?"

"I didn't say..." Danny stopped.

For the first time, Danny's face flushed. He looked embarassed!

Feeling terrible as she did so, the teacher pressed home her advantage, the first chink in the little boy's armor that she had come across. It was mean and it was petty, but she couldn't help herself.

"Tell me, Danny. Tell me why you did that. You must have known that calling Mr. Feng boring would hurt Hua's feelings. Why did you do it?"

"I didn't call him boring."

"Danny," she said, warming to her subject, "don't lie. If there is one thing I won't tolerater, it's dishonesty."

"I didn't call him boring. I didn't say he was boring."

"I heard you say it, young man. We all did. Don't try to deny it."

Danny looked her in the eye. It took only seven seconds before she cracked and looked away.

"I didn't say he was boring. You misheard what I said." The little boy got up from his seat in front of her big wooden desk.

"And where do you think you're going? Sit down this instant!" She used her command voice.

It didn't work. Danny picked up his notebook, the twenty-nine cent spiral kind, opened it to the one of the last pages and dropped it on her desk.

"Goodbye, Ms. Clarksen. I don't think I'll be coming back."

Shocked, she watched him walk towards the door and she watched him leave.

In the silence, she looked down at the notebook.

"Clever idea, but he's going about it like an idiot. He doesn't want to use a chromatogenic infiltration approach, he should be using a plasma couple vapor deposition rig to lay down his dipole layer! That would give him the charge drainage and electron flow balance he needs, while also containing the B-field. And he shouldn't be using silicon, that's too big of an electron shell to adjust the containment. What would be good for that? Erbium? Yttrium? NO!!! BORON! BORON!!!"

Comments and constructive criticisms welcome. Other #FridayFlash pieces can be found here


  1. Thank you Tony! It is so nice to see you're as human as the rest of us....bwah ha ha!
    I must get this Write or Die thing!

  2. Deanna: Some days, I make so many mistakes I feel like I'm MORE human than the rest of the world!


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