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Woodland School for Boys

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Short Short Stories!
Another in the series about Robert. This takes place at the end of the summer after he returns to his grandparents farm. Summer has ended and he is being sent to a boys school.

Submitted: December 01, 2018

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Submitted: December 01, 2018

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Woodward School for Boys

 

Uncle Jim drove to the farm to pick me up and take me to Woodward School for Boys.  Just the name of the school made my stomach churn.  Grandma had read the letter from Uncle that came three weeks ago but she thought that I didn’t need to know anything about it.  So up until yesterday, when Uncle Jim called and wanted to know if I would be ready to leave by noon, I hadn’t been told anything about what had been decided was best for me.  Then the whole story was dropped on me, at least I hope it was the whole story this time.

I survived working on the farm with Grandpa and Grandma.  Thinking about it now, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.  Grandpa kept me busy with lots of work every day.  That kept me out in the fields from early morning to late in the evening.  Long days meant that I spent less time around Grandma. It was always the same.  I would wash at the basin out on the porch, the same one that Grandpa used.  Then we would have silent dinner.  After Grandma finished the dishes, I was expected to sit with her in the living room.  Grandpa never came in but sat at the dining table reading his bible.  That is when it would start.

Grandma would ask, “Why can’t you be like your brother?  Then after a short pause she would say, “He never caused any trouble.  Just like his father.  Such a nice boy.”

Some days she would turn on the TV, other days she would crochet.  Never both.  The TV distracted her too much.  I would sit in the chair across the room.  If the TV was on, I would watch.  If not, I would act like I was reading a book or magazine.  At 9:00pm, I would go to bed, glad that another day was done.

I tried once to explain that Chad wasn’t perfect.  All that got me was a long lecture on how my father had never done anything wrong.  My brother was exactly like my father.  Perfect.  Always perfect.  I was not anything like my father.  I was like my mother who never deserved someone like my father.  My Grandma never, ever said anything good about my mother.  As far as I know, the only reason my mother is so evil is that Grandma was convinced that my mother had killed my father.  The only truth about what had happened came Sue, my cousin in Missouri, who told me that my father was killed in an auto accident.  He fell asleep driving at night.

Uncle Jim and I rode in silence for a while.  I had a thousand questions but wasn’t sure where to start.  Grandma had read me the letter where Uncle Jim explained that he had arranged for me to attend school at Woodward School and the all expenses would be covered.  I wondered if this was how Uncle Jim intended to make up for what my mother had done.  I had too many questions, so I broke the silence.

“Where is Woodward School?”

“Outside of Joliot, about an hour from Chicago.”  Uncle Jim answered without offering anything more.

“What’s it like?  Did you go there?”

“Yes, I did go to see the school.  It is an older school.  The building look old but are well maintained.” 

“Is it one of those military academies?”

“No.” Uncle Jim sighed.  “It’s not a military academy.  It is a place for young men who don’t have anywhere to stay.”

“An orphanage?  You are sending me to an orphanage.”  I was filled with instant rage.  Even when I was taken away from Cousin Sue I stayed with a foster family.  Now I was being sent to an orphanage because no one wanted me around. 

“It’s not an orphanage.  It is a school, a private boarding school.”  Uncle Jim was visibly upset, his hands shook slightly, and he gasp a few quick breaths.  Uncle Jim pulled over to the side of the road.  “Robert, listen to me.  This is the best that I could do.  You just have to trust me.”

I wanted to open the car door and run.  I don’t know what I thought would happen at the end of the summer.  I knew the Grandpa had made it very clear that I wouldn’t be staying.  No money.  Mom had made it clear that I wasn’t going to stay there again.  Aunt Anne had refused to let me stay with her.  I knew that Aunt Martha was behind Uncle Jim not letting me stay with them.  I really didn’t have any place to go.  How do you run away without a place to go?

“You will have a chance to start over at Woodward.  Clean slate.  I talked to the head master.  They will give you all the opportunities that you need.  I really wish things were different.”

“Why can’t I go back and live with Sue.  She would take me back again.  I know that.”

“You can’t, Robert.  Your mother doesn’t want you to stay with her.  I don’t know why but she made that very clear.”

“I wish I was fourteen.”

“Why?”

“When I’m fourteen then I get to choose where I will stay.  I have five months and seven days.”

I looked over at Uncle Jim.  It was difficult to know what he was thinking but he had a blank stare for a long time.  Finally, he simply shook his head.

“I will come to celebrate your birthday.”  Uncle Jim restarted the car and pulled back onto the highway.


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