by Caleb Wilson
I stared across the table at my mother, lowered my cup and placing it on the saucer, I then related what had happened in the classroom.
Frowning, she asked,
“Are you sure he tripped you, could you have been mistaken, not seen his leg and stumbled over it?”
I swallowed another mouthful of tea before answering,
“Mum, do I look like I need specs? When I got up from my seat, I happened to look down the passageway, and there were no legs sticking out. Also, why would the boy, who tripped me, come dashing out to persuade me to return to the class if it was an accident, and he wasn’t guilty of tripping me?
“Alright, Cobey,” my mother said, “I believe you. You were right to walk out, so what do you want to do now?"
I thought for a while then said, “I don’t really want to study with the seniors, my brief encounter with them was not to my liking. I think they resent a fourteen-year-old joining them in studying for A-levels. If I go back to that school then I want to go back and study with my own age group otherwise, if it’s possible, find another school.”
“Alright, Son, I’ll talk to your School Head later. That will give him time to get the other side’s view of what happened. Meantime, I’m going out to the shops, do you want to come along?”
“No, Mum, I’ll stay in. I can do some more work on the B.Sc. Maths paper.”
She finished her tea, came around the table, ruffled my hair, planted a kiss on my cheek, then remarked,
“See you in a bit, Brains!” and waltzed out of the house, leaving me to drink my tea.
Later, as I studied in my room, I heard the front door close. I shut down my PC and made my way downstairs to see my mother deposit the groceries on the kitchen table.
“Hi, Mum.” I greeted her as I walked in the room.
“Cobey, give me a hand putting these things away,” she requested, “Then, I can give your school head a call before he goes to lunch.”
Five minutes later, I followed her into the sitting room. She went over to the telephone, lifted the receiver and took it over to her favourite chair. I watched her as she sat down, dialled, and waited for the person at the other end to answer.
“Mr. Henshaw!” she said, in her most charming voice. My mother could put it on quite thick, when she had to. She continued,
"I’ve spoken to my son, he informed me about this morning's incident. I'm prepared to let the matter rest, as long as Cobey can return tomorrow."
I learned later after the telephone conversation that before my mother could put the conditions of my return forward, she was interrupted by Mr. Henshaw stating,
"Your son accidentally tripped over a boy, who had his leg stretched out in the passageway. He overreacted by walking out of the classroom and school. I’m afraid that because of his actions, he will have to serve a detention when he returns.
I saw the expression on my mother’s face harden. When she spoke again, her voice became tinged with a hint of anger.
"Mr. Henshaw, my son not only didn't overreact BUT told the truth! There is no doubt in my mind that the senior boy deliberately tripped him. If you believe otherwise, you are more gullible than you look! As for his return, there is no such possibility! I'll be going to the local Education Authority Offices to demand my child be transferred to another place of learning!"
Cutting the connection, she stood up, replaced the receiver and waited. Mum smiled at me then she started counting loudly for my benefit. When she reached the number twenty-two, the phone rang. She let it repeat seven times, before she picked it up.
“Hello, OH, Mr. Henshaw!” she said, giving me a wicked grin. “What can I do for you?”
“No I’m sorry, my son wasn’t in the wrong. The teacher and the boy who tripped my son were the ones who were at fault. Now if you have nothing positive to add to this conversation, then I must be going. I want to see the Education Officer as soon as possible. Also, I’m sure that they’ll need to carry out an investigation into what took place and your handling of the incident!”
My mother broke the connection again, went over to her chair, sat down, waited, while she explained, telling me,
“I’ll give it ten minutes at most. If there is no call, we’ll go and see the E.A.O. and see what can be done, or if you have to you can study at home.”
Nearly ten minutes later, my mother rose from her seat, telling me to put my shoes on and grab my coat. She went and donned hers, grabbed her handbag and car keys, and with me following made for the front door.
We were a couple of strides away from it, when the phone rang. My mother stopped her progress to the front door and instead lifted the receiver in the hallway saying.
“The Hodson residence, Mrs. Hodson speaking.”
I saw her smile then add, “Mr. Jackson, how nice of you to phone, but I really can’t chat to you at the moment. I was just about ready to leave the house with my son and make our way to the Education Authority Offices.”
“Oh, that is good to hear, but Cobey says he will only return to Parklands, if he’s allowed to study with his own year group.”
My mother frowned then said, “Mr. Jackson are you still there?”
“Oh good, there is just one other thing, Cobey hasn’t got a class schedule for his year group, can you arrange it so he gets one?”
“Thank you, Mr. Jackson, I’ll tell him, and you’ve been a great help. Bye for now.” She replaced the receiver on the hook and looked at me grinning,
“Alright, you can start back tomorrow with your own year group,” she said with a smug look an her face, “And there will be a schedule waiting for you at the Secretary’s office.”
“Thanks, Mum, do we still need to go out?”
“Yes, I don’t fancy cooking today, let’s eat out. Do you want to go anywhere in particular?”
“Yeah, that Aussie place, The Bush Tucker, they do a wicked steak there.”
“Okay, let’s go,” she said, grabbing my arm and ushering me out the front door.
Tuesday morning, I walked through the school gates a little bit nervous, not knowing what to expect. Within the space of five minutes, my fears were laid to rest.
After picking up my class schedule from Ms. Dursford, the school secretary, no one seemed to notice me as I made my way to my locker.
After stashing my day’s food rations inside, I made my way to my first class. The moment I walked into the classroom, all eyes seemed to focus on me, and my anxiety returned. Not knowing which desks were vacant, I decided to stand by the teacher’s dais and wait for her arrival. I had just positioned myself by her desk, when I heard,
“Cobey, what are you doing here?”
Turning to the source of the voice, I saw Ginny Gresham (her real name being Virginia, but I’d never heard anyone use her given name).
“Hoping to study, what do you think,” I said trying to hide my nervousness by looking and sounding casual.
She came closer, till she was literally breathing down my neck and said,
“You trying to be sarky, Cobey Hodson?”
“Nope, that's why I’m here to start my studies again.”
“So, what happened to your studying with the seniors?” she asked, as she looked at my face trying to gauge if I was telling the truth or having her on.
“They didn’t like me, and I was none too keen on them. So, I walked out, and here I am. I’m waiting for Ms. Bailey, before I take a seat, I’m not sure which ones are vacant.”
“The desk behind mine is empty, take that one.”
“Okay, but I best wait for her first. She can be a real pain for protocol at times.”
Ginny gave me a weak smile, a little wave of her hand, then moved to her desk, which then allowed others to hurl questions at me now that the ice had been broken. I gave them all more or less the same answer that I gave Ginny, till the door opened and the questions ceased as Ms. Bailey walked in.
David Jackson was still angry, at what had happened on the first day of school in the senior’s maths class. “That fucking idiot Sapsford, he thought, had let a little incident get out of hand, added to which the schools Head had made matters worse, then dumped the problem in his lap. To get the boy back to Parklands he’d had to agree to let Hodson back and to study with his own year group. What a waste! But as Deputy Head he wasn’t giving up yet, he had Hodson back on the premises and maybe he could talk him round to studying with the seniors again.”
Now, during the first break, he was hurrying to attend the meeting he’d arranged with the A-level teachers in the Staff Room.
Once inside, he grabbed a readymade mug of tea, and walked over to the group, who were collected at one end of the room awaiting his arrival.
Sipping his tea, he eyed the teachers, swallowed then said,
“At the moment, we have in this school an exceptional fourteen-year-old boy who is capable of passing the A-Level papers in four subjects with Grade A passes in all. At present he is wasting his time studying with his own year group which I hope to change by persuading him to return to studying with the seniors. By now you must have all heard of what happened yesterday during Mr. Sapsford’s maths class. If by some chance I can get Hodson to return to the senior classes I don’t want a repetition of what occurred yesterday!” he said looking across at Sapsford. After another sip of his tea Jackson continued,
“I’m relying on all of you and the offending pupils, to insure Hodson’s return to the seniors, (if he agrees to return,) to be a more pleasant experience than yesterday. Meanwhile, I’ll talk to the senior students, when I take them for their English history lesson after the morning break. Alright, that’s all I wish to say on the matter, if you have any questions then ask away, otherwise, I’m going to get a tea-bun before they’re finished.”
“Ah ha! 1A Parkland's crème-de la-crème!” David Jackson said sarcastically, when the pupils taking English history were seated, “The pupils, who made a fourteen-year-old boy feel so welcome that he walked out!”
Mr. Jackson stared around the room. He eyed the various youths, none of which would meet his gaze for long.
“So why the resentment? What did he do that caused one of you to trip him, as he walked to the front of the class and the rest of you to laugh at his embarrassment?”
Silence no one answered his question.
“I will endeavour to persuade Hodson to return to the seniors again.” The teacher said glaring around at the students. “If he does return and any of you have the slightest inkling at having a go at him again, whether it be vocally or physically, let me make it quite plain; it will not be tolerated, and the consequences will be dire for the perpetrator! Am I clear?” he yelled, looking around at bowed heads. “Now let us get on with the lesson.”
One particular pupil in 1A let out a sigh of relief, as no offending names were mentioned.
My classes went well right up till the lunch break. Although the lessons were more like revision for me, being back in class amongst my own age group was a real pleasure.
I went to my locker at the lunchtime bell, got my food and my novel, then I headed for the sports fields. Being early September it felt quite warm, so instead of using the benches I chose to sit under a big elm, leaning my back against the trunk.
As I munched away at my sandwiches, with my nose stuck in the book. I didn't hear, or see the person standing there, until he asked,
“You going to teach me how not to be a piece of shit?”
I looked up from my book to see the boy who had tripped me in the classroom yesterday standing over me.
“Nothing for me to teach!” I said looking up at him.
“Mind if I join you?” and not waiting for an answer he sat down next to me, leaning his back against the tree. Unwrapping his sandwiches, and taking a bite out of one he said, “I see we have something in common,” and as I looked at him enquiringly he held up his sandwich. Between chewing mouthfuls of his bread, he added, “We don’t eat the school meals. What have you got in yours? Oh, and by the way, the name‘s Mitchell Winters, normally shortened to Mitch.”
“Just finished my ham and mustard, going to start on the salmon and cucumber. I’m Cobey Hodson.”
“Yeah, so I found out. Look, I’m sorry about yesterday. You know the incident in the class, I acted like a moron.”
“You really are learning, and… acting less and less like a piece of shit!” I said after swallowing a mouthful of salmon and cucumber sandwich, “Oh, and apology accepted. What’ve you got in your sarny?”
“Roast beef, lettuce, and tomato. You want to swap half yours for half mine?”
I handed over half my Salmon and cucumber sandwich and got a roast beef in return and promptly took a bite out of it.
“By the way, you thought of coming back to study with the seniors?” Mitch asked while continuing to munch on his bread. “Jackson told us that he hopes to persuade you to return.”
“Nope, I’m happy where I am,” I said, as I swallowed a mouthful of beef sandwich.
“Come on, Cobey, just give it a try for a week. Then if you don’t like our company, you can head back to your own year group.”
While Mitch talked, I could see Jackson striding across the grounds towards us.
“Seems like my company is in great demand today, Jackson’s headed in this direction.”
“Oh shit! The senior exclaimed, “Hope he doesn’t make any reference to yesterday.”
The teacher drew up frowning at seeing the two of us seated together. He was just about to speak, when I stopped him with the comment,
“Yes, Mr. Jackson, I’ll start studying with the seniors again tomorrow.”