A story about a thirteen year old boy who just wants his life to make sense and break free the bonds of his Christian town and strict mother.
Couldn’t Do It Alone…
Chapter 1: Uncle Rich’s Funeral.
Today was my birthday. It was also the day of my Uncle Rich’s funeral. I hardly knew him. My birthday did not really matter. Despite turning thirteen only happened once and having the pleasure of not wearing a tacky and itchy new suit. My Aunt Gladys had picked it. The moment she saw me within the suit she had tears in her eyes and said I was the splitting image of Uncle Rich. Apparently, it was the same kind of orange plaited suit Uncle Rich used to wear. The moment my Aunt had said that I resembled Uncle Rich in the suit, I had an image of Uncle Rich wearing the same kind of suit in his coffin. I shuddered at the thought, not wanting to resemble a dead person, relative or not.
My mum practically had to drag me on the way to the car to attend the funeral at the town church. I put up a great struggle but eventually gave up. On the way, I kept fiddling with my orange bow tie. The high collar kept on threatening to strangle me and I kept on scratching, which only made the itchiness worse.
“Don’t fiddle with it, Henry,” stated my mother in a disapproving manner as she kept on driving.
Huffing slightly, I crossed my arms in a disgruntled manner and glanced out the window.
“I’ll be fine,” I responded, feeling smothered by her worry about me.
I think she took the hint. She merely nodded and with one last look of sadness in her eyes, Jenny left the Assembly Hall as she passed by me. Her footsteps were receding until I could hear them no longer.
Sighing as best I could without hoping to cause injury to myself, I also left in the opposite direction of Jenny. I needed to get to my first class of the day.
“Now, class, repeat after me: “God is Just. God is Pure. Let no harm come to us nor those we hold dear.” Fifty times in your notebooks, please,” dictated Sister Margaret with precision.
Sister Margaret let her eyes wander around the classroom, her hands clasped entwined upon her desk as her lips set in a grim line. One student was absent, as far as she could recall. Dawson, Henry Dawson.
Sister Margaret had high hopes for the boy. He was not very bright, but not a complete nincompoop either. It appeared his Faith was the only thing lacking. Then again, he could have been worse, like that Eccles child. She was grateful not to be the one in charge of him in her class. Sister Margaret prayed for them both constantly, believing the children of Dunsville were a better solution for the Christian Faith of the town for the future.
A modest believer in Faith, Sister Margaret ruled with fair discipline and sharp order if needed.
She never raised her voice in anger nor rapped the knuckles of her students like some of the others of the Staff did. But even then, it was only due to extreme circumstances that such punishment in Priggs needed to be dished out. Her thoughts had wavered back to the Eccles boy, whom was known from gossip to receive at least ten whacks a week. The man dolling out the punishment was the head teacher of the Staff, Mr. Forbes. There was no detention program in Priggs, merely whacks with a hickory stick. Fortunately, Sister Margaret had no need to dole out such punishment and preferred not to be as brutish in her punishment. In extreme cases, Heaven forbid she had any, Sister Margaret merely sent them to Mr. Forbes if needed.
Sister Margaret had no qualms with Priggs itself. It was the only private School of Dunsville and the most religious.
Turning her thoughts from her station, Sister Margaret snapped back to the present situation as the door of her classroom opened.
All eyes from the desks glanced at the figure that opened the door. Sister Margaret nearly gaped in amazement at the sight she saw. The boy in the open doorway barely seemed recognizable if not for his distinguishable features and the fact she knew his face on sight.
“Henry Dawson, you are late!” snapped Sister Margaret with automatic reproach at the uncouth boy.
I had nothing to say to this and even if I did it would have been unwise to respond.
At most, I was glad it was my tardiness and not my appearance and lack of satchel that led Sister Margaret to exclaim.
I mumbled a half notable apology and averted my gaze downward from the look of disappointment upon Sister Margaret’s face. I could feel her disapproving glance and a slightly audible sigh escaped from her lips.
“Take your seat, Henry,” she had ordered as I lifted my head again.
By this time, the rest of my class had gone back to writing in their notebooks as I walked over to the desk in the back of the class that was unoccupied, my desk.
Slumping down onto my hard wooden chair, I hunched over, not daring to look at Sister Margaret. She was one of the only few adults that could still make me feel ashamed, aside from Brother David and my Dad.
Sister Margaret had been slightly taken aback by the boy that had entered her classroom. She was troubled for Henry Dawson but held her reproach as best as possible as the boy slinked his way towards his desk at the back of the classroom.
Sister Margaret held her eyes level with the rest of the class, to ensure nothing would disturb the calm within her classroom. Feeling at ease she had dealt with the situation properly, Sister Margaret turned before walking over and sitting down at her own desk. She smoothed her nun’s habit with care and took out her own copy of The Bible and read with prayers whispered under her breath with no audible sound.
So engrossed was her reading and silent prayer, Sister Margaret was jolted out of her steady reading by the familiar clang of the school church’s bell to attend mid-morning Mass Assembly. No matter how many times in the days gone by, Sister Margaret was a bundle of jitters whenever that large bell rang.
Standing up demurely, Sister Margaret shut her Bible, putting it carefully upon her desk with fervent care. She brushed the creases from her nun’s dress to regain her composure and waited as the whole class stood up from their chairs after putting away their schoolbooks back within their satchels.
I stood up with the rest of my classmates, my face set with grim disgust. The automatic morons at this school were sheep, herded to a pasture that led them nowhere. This fact had dawned upon me relatively quickly as I was growing up. I partly blamed the community for my Dad leaving. But then again, I blamed almost everybody who even tried to speak to me after my parents broke up five years ago. Tom was the exception to this, he seemed to notice the things I was dealing with and knew well enough to leave me alone until I was able to speak to him again. Some said the resentful and hostile nature I exerted was a form of not being able to come to terms about my parents splitting up. But that was all just stupid psycho-talk the school therapist just said to me. I had not visited him since I decked him in one of our sessions, which obviously led to no more visits and another notch of “disappointment” within the Dunsville community. But I stopped caring since I was ten and do not regret my actions, no matter how messed up I was.
The students of Sister Margaret’s class filed out in a sensible fashion, the Class Representatives present and leading the way in an orderly manner in a silent two-by-two motif akin to Noah leading the animals aboard the Ark.
Sister Margaret watched as her class went out the door until only the solitary Henry Dawson remained, always the odd one out every day. Sister Margaret bade the boy to come with a slight nod of her head, not making eye contact with him as he shuffled past her out of the classroom. Demurely and sighing inwardly with relief that the boy had some common sense, Sister Margaret left her empty classroom, shutting the door behind her and turned to the assembled students in the hallway of her class. By now, most of the other teachers and students had already left and were making their way towards the Main Assembly Block building. With another curt nod from Sister Margaret, her students started shuffling down the hallway like the young flock she loved dearly.
Sister Margaret’s class was the last to arrive into the Assembly Hall, the other teachers and students sitting in the simple wooden chairs provided that faced the stage podium.
Still marching single file, the students of Sister Margaret’s class made their way towards the empty seats and sat down. Henry Dawson sighted his friend Tom Eccles and gave him a slight upward nod of the head as he bypassed him.
Tom acknowledging this with the same sign before Henry was out of line of sight of him and Henry sat down with the other students and Sister Margaret.
Nary a sound was heard nor uttered as the focus was drawn towards the podium stage, the prominent coat of arms of the school upon the back wall, the figurehead of the cross a sign of holiness.
The man up on the podium was solemn-looking and as silent as the rest, possibly even more so if that was possible. His dark blue suit contrasted the red velvet backdrop of the stage’s curtains, his beady yet calculating eyes surveying the room filled with Staff Members and students. Principal Stanley Stokes seemed slightly unsettled in his manner today, though he did not know the reason why. He was a tall man of lean build and yet he seemed somewhat slumped as he stood at the podium. His Hawk-like nose twitching slightly from a stressful muscle spasm, intent to drive away the demon of doubt that lingered within his sharp mind.
“Today,” he heard himself say in his curt but sharply nasal tone. “We thank God for all he has given us. We simply pray that He will put a stop to things unjust.”
A slight murmur of confusion was heard from around the Assembly Hall. This was not the usual mid-morning mass that Principal Stokes usually provided.
Principal Stokes was a patient man, he merely waited until the mutterings died down and all was quiet once again.
@ -The Truth- : Thank you for your forgiveness. I plan to...what is this but a book in of itself? lol.
This is the last part I will put up today for this story.
“It has come to my attention that a certain individual has been bullied on Priggs School Grounds. This will NOT be accepted,” stated Principal Stokes with conviction, his eyes piercing out over the hushed crowd of students and teachers in front of him.
It was obvious to Stanley Stokes that the silence was only due to the anticipation of the news. He himself detested gossip but acknowledged that it did indeed create a certain appealing effect upon the student body that was listening with rapt attention to his every word.
“Henry Dawson, please come up here at once,” said Principal Stokes with strict disfavor etched on his face as well as in his voice.
It seemed like all eyes were turned to me as I stood up slowly. I had a feeling of nausea in my stomach and took a large gulp to get the feeling from my throat.
I tried to calm my nerves, unconsciously walking forward towards the large podium stage in front of me, the sounds of only my shoes echoing within the Assembly Hall.
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