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Broken Glass

What we do for love...

By Kendall Defoe Published about a month ago Updated about a month ago 6 min read
Top Story - June 2024
Broken Glass
Photo by Josephina Kolpachnikof on Unsplash

Of all the students Mr. Benedick expected to see in his office, he did not expect the boy who was sitting there. What grade was this one, he thought? He walked over to his desk, looked at the folder Ms. Diner had left out for him, and opened it. There was a photo inside of it, taken from last year’s picture day. Not much growth; not too different. The boy sitting in front of him had nothing strange or unusual in his file, if a child’s life defined by having “nothing disruptive or regretful” in it could be called fine. Mr. Benedick also realized that “life” was an anagram of “file,” and wondered where that thought came from as he stared at the boy in front of him. Benny Duncan. Grade Four. Beloved by all his teachers so far. He had seen the boy playing with the other boys his age in the school yard at recess. Four Square and foot hockey. A normal-looking kid. A normal kid… And here he was, after a very stupid moment with the fire alarm and a shoe.

And he was smiling at him.

“Benny…”

“Benny Duncan, sir.”

The boy was polite. Maybe this was part of the plan? No, thought Mr. Benedick, not this one. He was too innocent, on paper and in person. The boy was dressed in a yellow and blue striped shirt, with running shoes, dirty socks and trousers that barely passed his knees. None of that was unusual on a hot day like this (why, he wondered, did he still have his jacket on? He would leave it hanging on his chair as he spoke). The most unusual thing about the boy was the bandage on his right arm. The blood had been washed off by the staff nurse (Ms. Charles was ill in the girl’s room for far too long). It was also the reason why they knew the culprit had been a child who had never caused anyone any problems at this school. They had already contacted the parents, and they clearly were as shocked as he and the other vice-principals were by his actions.

“Why did you do what you did, son?”

“I had too, sir.”

“Why?”

The boy stopped smiling.

“You would not really understand, sir.”

Again, that politeness… Mr. Benedick wished that he had other encounters like this with the students. Hell, he thought, the vice principals and certain other teachers were not this polite (he would have to speak to the staff about this one day; one day when Ms. Campa was in the room and cutting eyes at him).

“Benny, believe me, we do understand. Kids get up to all sorts of things…”

“Sir, this is different. This was not a prank.”

That was almost sass; almost, very almost that.

“Mr. Duncan, we called your parents. Luckily, we got them before this had to go on to the police.”

A lie, but one he wanted to check.

“I don’t believe you, sir.”

Mr. Benedick was actually impressed. The kid could read him pretty well.

“Okay, not the police. But this is serious.”

“Yes, sir.”

“We cannot have the students running around setting off alarms because of some test or to get out of…”

“No, sir. It was not for a test.” He was swinging his small legs and pushing the free shoe on the floor. “I did not have a test to worry about. It was something else.”

“Something else?”

“Yes, sir.”

Mr. Benedick, a man with no children of his own who never understood why anyone would want one, truly pitied any parent dealing with such a stubborn attitude and such a charming face.

“Kid…”

“Yes, sir?”

And, because someone was smiling on him (even if it was just for a brief moment), Ms. Diner knocked on the door and pointed out that Mr. and Mrs. Duncan were now here and he could let them in.

She did have a way with words when she was taking charge, he thought.

And then the bell rang.

*

During the car ride home, he wondered about Benny, and he was quite impressed. The mother, a large woman who missed work at the nursing home to handle “this pain in the neck of an infant”, was close to having a fit in his office. The husband, a mild-tempered man who seemed to feel like he was the one being called for a punishment, let his wife rant before starting to speak about boys being boys and “how we all did stupid things when we were young.” His wife’s anger at his lack of anger made Mr. Benedick smile…almost (he was taking no chances around them). Benny did not say much during this performance. Not a clue about why he did what he did and he walked out of there with a detention and two very confused parents (they saw the file and could not understand it, either). Maybe some kids are just mysteries and have to stay that way, thought Mr. Benedick. But he really wanted to know. He had to know.

*

A few weeks of detention followed. This meant that a vice principal had to monitor the kids as they worked on a paper explaining why the rules are important (let Mr. Carver, the buck-toothed wonder of the school, handle that). There were no other incidents except the occasional fight in the school yard (same familiar faces that year) and a problem with a student who refused to leave one of the girls in his grade alone (better keep an eye on that one), and no problems with Benny Duncan.

No problem at all.

“Sir?”

He looked up from a memorandum he was preparing for the students that afternoon to see Mr. Duncan in his doorway.

“Mr. Duncan.”

“Benny, sir.” He walked into the office and stood by the chair, as if waiting for an invitation to sit.

“It is recess, you know.”

The boy smiled at him. “I know, sir. But I wanted to thank you for everything.”

Again, it has to be said: Mr. Benedick was a man who just wanted to get through the day without having to deal with too many problems from his staff or the students. He did not need to have his head spun by a kid who seemed to be better now that he had been punished.

“Benny, what do you mean by…?”

“You helped me! Well, all of you helped. My parents, too, but I am not going to go and thank them. They already hate that I went through all this for what I did.”

“Yeah, ‘all this for…’?”

“Her.”

He looked at the clock. The bell would ring in ten minutes. Was that enough time to get the full story?

“Okay, you need to share this.”

“Bonnie.”

“Bonnie…”

“Bonnie Glass! She’s in my grade and…”

He did not need to hear anymore to figure out the story.

“A girl?”

“Right.”

“You went through all of this for a girl?”

Benny seemed to be standing up a little straighter as he spoke. The hallway was quiet with all the children out and making the most of this free time.

“Yeah, and now she finally likes me. So, thank you, sir.”

Benny ran out and yelled a final “Thank you!” before the recess bell sounded.

Mr. Benedick knew that there was something that he wanted to say, but he could not think of it right now. He had a memorandum to finish, all about causing a nuisance in school and how students would be punished if they did not behave. But he was thinking of something else now. Ms. Diner wanted to make copies while the kids were out. She could wait. He would hear the bell ring and wonder what was going to happen next.

By Eric Tompkins on Unsplash

*

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You can find more poems, stories, and articles by Kendall Defoe on my Vocal profile. I complain, argue, provoke and create...just like everybody else.

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About the Creator

Kendall Defoe

Teacher, reader, writer, dreamer... I am a college instructor who cannot stop letting his thoughts end up on the page.

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (28)

  • Dr. Jason Benskinabout a month ago

    Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

  • Everyday Junglistabout a month ago

    Very nice man! You inspired me so much I wrote a sequel, or prequel I guess. A shade darker than your tale but I think it makes a nice contrast and answers some questions left unanswered in your story. https://vocal.media/fiction/breaking-benny

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    Ahh, takes me back to the good ole days. I never pulled the fire alarm but did spend a time or few in detention. Congrats on a fine TS.

  • Lacy Loar-Gruenlerabout a month ago

    Great read, Kendall! Girls do love bad boys! Congrats on Top Story.

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!

  • I really like that Benny came back to thank Mr Benedick, ever so politely & the rest of the story came out.🤩

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    You have a very good sense of direction in your story and can pace it well. Definitely had me thinking about why he pulled the alarm

  • Halima Begumabout a month ago

    awesome

  • The Dani Writerabout a month ago

    A well-crafted story Kendall! And perhaps you won't think me strange that I think the energy of ideas swirl around the inner minds of all writers, which is why they tend to write on some of the same things around the same time. My "emergency" piece has just had final edits. It makes me smile to see how writers are connected and how brilliant your story was. Please enjoy your top story status to the hilt!

  • Leslie Writesabout a month ago

    This was great! I have so many questions. Did Bonnie Glass dare him to pull the fire alarm as a test or was it so they could be alone? Also, why does Ms. Dinner need Mr. Benedick for making copies?…oh 😏

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Congratulations on TS Well deserved win

  • Nathal Nortanabout a month ago

    Kids will always be kids. What much can we do? We can't avoid them either. Thanks for the article.

  • TahimaAniabout a month ago

    congratulations ♥️

  • JBazabout a month ago

    Back to say congratulations. I was so hoping for this. Well deserved Top Story

  • Rachel Sabout a month ago

    lol! good story! congrats! Thank G-d and kudos to my parents for never sending me to public school...

  • Mark Gagnonabout a month ago

    All that for the attention of a girl because girls go for bad boys. Congratulations on Top Story, Kendall!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • shanmuga priyaabout a month ago

    Congratulations 🎉

  • Donna Fox (HKB)about a month ago

    Kendall this was such a great story! I love that you built up the mystery to be something suspenseful and then it turns out to be the simplest of explanations... kids being kids 💚 Congrats on Top Story!!

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Congratulations on Top Story! 🥳

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Marvelous story!!! Loved it!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Nice job! I thought something totally different.

  • TahimaAniabout a month ago

    loved this ♥️

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Gosh I kept guessing and guessing but never thought it would be for a girl, lol. Loved your story!

Kendall Defoe Written by Kendall Defoe

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