Rehearsal for the “Real-World”


Mr. Parcel perched on his stool and peered at his students scattered and sitting cross-legged on the carpet below. Their faces were unblemished, eyes gloss less, filled with the type of intent and wonder that only kindergartners exhibit. It was story time and long ago the U.S. Department of Education decreed that reading ought to be a source of information and entertainment. Mr. Parcel believed that too. He read stories to his students with grandiose enthusiasm. Applying different voices for different characters, using emotions inside his tone, alto for anger, falsetto for serenity. He chose his stories carefully. Selecting material by way of specific criteria often plot driven narratives that evidenced the type of morality found in parables. But Mr. Parcel contemplated if the lessons he instilled within their young minds were even useful. What value did a Dr. Seuss rhyme contain? What real-world application was found in the simple prose of Disney dialogue and Berenstain Bear misadventures? So Mr. Parcel took up his pen and exercised his English minor and wrote a children’s story about death. He decided his students would be the perfect test subjects.

“Hello kids,” he announced. “Today I am going to read a special story!”
Their cheeks curled with enthusiastic smiles.
“Do you know what makes it special?” He asked.
“Whaaaaat?” The children responded in prepubescent choir.
“It’s special because I wrote it.”
The students perked up. A few of them looked around with anxious gazes excited for the potential pomp of Mr. Parcel’s wisdom. He cleaned his throat with a growl, swallowed a glob of saliva and began…

“Once there was a newborn named Todd. Todd was a beautiful baby with wide blue eyes…”

He told the story about Todd. A newborn discovered dead in his crib. He described the mother’s tears. The father’s alcoholism as a result. He explained why the police had to investigate and about the contrasts between Heaven and Hell. When he was finished a tickle walked up his vertebrae, he goose pimpled with pride. A few children began sobbing, lines of mucus dripped from their nostrils and settled on their cross-legged limbs. Other children appeared stunned. Mr. Parcel nodded his head in approval.

“Yes,” he whispered, “I did my job.”

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