Friday, June 18, 2010

A "Learning Problem"

Lately, I've been working on a short film script that I hope will be funny when it's done. Being funny AND telling a good story at the same time is harder than it sounds. (Ever seen "The Informant"? Eeeek.) Again, I used a prompt from Writer Digest's "Promptly" to practice. The task this time is, using 500 words or less: "Write your most memorable report card story. Or, alternately, write a story about a character who has failed an unfailable class."

This entry is slightly autobiographical, by the way. Which may or may not make it more funny to you. Also, I had to shave several words to cut it down to 500. It seems a little choppy because of that - that and because in my head it's more a script than literature. Enjoy!

Chad’s "Learning Problem"

It’s two in the afternoon. Chad Chandler, who had a fairly carb-loaded lunch, is resting quietly in the crook of his arm. His teacher thinks he’s reading along in his history book. The student next to him is laughing at the sight of Chad drooling on his desk.

A loud crackle interrupts the teacher’s monotone reading on the Louisiana Purchase. “Chad Chandler, Please report to the office.”

Chad jerks awake. The sudden movement garners more attention than the incredibly loud and unexpected noise of the classroom speaker. If Chad’s neighbor had been drinking anything, it would have come straight out of his nose.

Everyone is already looking at Chad when he smiles confidently and slams his book shut. The realization that he had been drooling hits him the moment he removes his books from his desk, but he waits until he gets to the hallway before he wipes his chin. He walks nonchalantly, yawning all the way to the office, but the look on Chad’s face changes when he walks into the school counselor’s conference room. His mother is waiting for him.

Chad declares, “I don’t know what this is about. I didn’t do anything. I promise.”

A couple of teachers, the principal, and an unknown woman in a suit enter the room. Everyone says hello, settles into an office chair, and commences shuffling paper according to rank. Chad and his mom have no paper, and the principal has an inch-high stack. The unknown official trumps the paper shuffling completely. She opens a laptop and starts clicking.

The principal takes the lead. “I guess I’ll begin the meeting. Chad, Mrs. Chandler, I’d like to introduce you to Mrs. Grace Fontenot. She is the School Psychologist, but we share her with three other middle schools in the district, so we don’t see her a lot around here.”

Mrs. Chandler replies, “It’s nice to meet you.” The look on her face is complete confusion. She’s not sure yet if it will be “nice” to meet her or not.

The principal continues. “Well, we are having this meeting because we need to discuss Chad’s report card. As you know, the last report card of the year indicates whether a student passes or fails a class. We are sorry to say it, but Chad, you have failed eighth grade reading.”

Chad’s mother looks disappointed, but not surprised. She seems a bit relieved, actually.

Mrs. Fontenot chimes in. “You are going to need summer school to catch up, but first we need to do some evaluations to see if there is a learning problem that we can work on for next year.”

“A learning problem?” Chad’s mother jumps up. “Are you kidding me?”

Suddenly, another announcement interrupts the atmosphere around Chad.

“This is Mrs. Butcher, the school newspaper advisor. I’d like the congratulate Chad Chandler. He has won a national writing award and has been invited to Columbia University in New York City to accept it in person. We’re very proud of you Chad.”

No comments:

Post a Comment