The Green Giant
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Three times as long and twice as tall as any other in the school, Mrs. Ahab’s chalkboard was an anomaly to both teachers and students alike. The former wondered why the old instructor insisted on keeping it throughout the decades while the other educators had adapted to changing times, although some believed the rumor that she kept it around because it was the very chalkboard she had learned from so long ago. As for the students it was to be feared, lessons going on for days, sometimes weeks, as she never ran out of room on that Green Giant of hers.
Because of its size Mrs. Ahab’s class was the most disciplined and quiet in all the school, every single pupil wanting to avoid her punishment of having to write a sentence over and over again until the pea green monster was completely filled. Of course no one ever knew of anyone who actually came close to filling the board within the two hours of detention after school, but there were stories that a few had come close and in so doing had developed ‘zombie arm’, left so stiff they were never to be the same again.
It was for this reason why Ricky had ran as fast as his legs would move him, sprinting back out to the playground to find his lost lunch ticket before the tardy bell rang. But the thought of not making it back in time caused this sixth grader to panic, slowing him down enough to where the bell rang out with such a blaring shout that it was as if it came from the Green Giant itself, just before he crossed the finish line of the classroom door.
The looks on Ricky’s classmates faces said it all, feeling sorry for him while at the same time so relieved it hadn’t been them. And then there was Mrs. Ahab’s face, red hot with laser-beam eyes burning down into him, her wide mouth in Slo-Mo sentencing him to an afternoon of countless sentences.
Tardiness is a sign of disrespect.
And so with the final bell came the freedom of his peers, Ricky looking out the window in sorrow as they ran out into the last few hours of sunshine. He looked back to the Green Giant before him, the green skyscraper, the green mile, then with a hand that already felt heavy put chalk to board.
Tardiness is a sign of disrespect.
Ricky began to write.
About a half dozen sentences in, his mind began to wonder.
Tartar sauce is a sign of a disgruntled fish.
Disgruntled. It had been one of his vocabulary words last week, and now he couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of this sentence he had just written. After writing it a few more times his hand and mind began to work as one, one sentence flowing into another and serving as the beginning of an interesting story about a fish who sets out to turn the waters he lives in into swampy green so as to deter fishermen from using his home as their hunting grounds.
Before he realized it Ricky had already filled up one third the Green Giant with these ideas that just kept coming to him, like a movie playing in his head, to be written line by line, paragraph by paragraph, no longer caring that he was no longer repeating the sentence old Mrs. Ahab had assigned. He and the Green Giant and the white chalk were now allies in telling a tale which mirrored the oppression he and his classmates felt.
By 4 o’clock, only one hour into his two-hour punishment Ricky looked up from the last sentence of his story, having barely squeezed it in the far bottom right corner of the Green Giant. He then stepped back to take it all in, every inch of Mrs. Ahab’s beastly chalkboard covered with words that Ricky’s mind had put together like a giant puzzle to tell this story. A story that would forever change how his classmates would look at the Green Giant. A story that he would later credit as not only being his first but his favorite as well, sharing on the dedication page in the published book which held it…
For Mrs. Ahab and the Green Giant
for making me the storyteller I am today
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