"Grade School" - Siobhan Roche


Jake walked home, dragging his feet and kicking up dust. Usually, he rushed home to play baseball at the park but today he stretched out his walk from the bus stop as long as possible. Other children rushed past him, some asking if he was playing baseball this afternoon. Jake ignored them. He stared at his feet.

Jake walked through the front door and dropped his backpack by the stairs. “Hi honey, how was school today?” his mother called from the kitchen. Jake sat down at the kitchen counter, resting his head in his hand. Jake silently ate the apple and peanut butter snack his mother had given him while forlornly staring out the window at the sun setting over the fence in the back yard. All Jake wanted to do was leave. He didn’t want to talk to his mother today. “Is something wrong?” Jake’s Mother asked. “Did something happen at school today that you’d like to tell me about?” She gently touched his hand and sat down on the stool next to him.

“Well, Mom, today we got our report cards.” Jake said in a timid voice, still looking out the window.

“Can I see it?” Jake reluctantly hopped down from the stool and took his report card out of his backpack. He placed it on the counter in front of his mother and as she read it he stood patiently with his hands in his pockets, looking down at his sneakers. “Honey, there’s no need to be upset. All but one of your grades is very good this term. Your teacher’s comments concern me and we’ll have to talk to the school about it, but your report card looks good otherwise.”

“So I am not in trouble?” Jake asked hopefully.

“No, honey. Go play baseball.” Jake ran to the garage to grab his glove and headed down to the park. Jake’s spirits lifted as he ran, yet every second his mother’s were sinking. Jake’s mother sat at the counter a few minutes longer, processing the comments the teacher had made. “At least Jake doesn’t know.” That thought comforted her a little.

She picked up the phone in the living room to dial her husband. As the phone rang she twisted the cord around her finger and untwisted it until her husband picked up.

“Hello?”

“Hi Rick, I need to talk to you about Jake. He brought his report card home today. His grades were good except for his English grade.”

“So, then what is the problem?” He said urgently. “I’m really busy at the office today and I’m going to be staying a little late.”

“I know that you’re busy but this is important.” Jake’s mother read the comments written by his teacher. There was silence on the other end of the receiver.

“Rick, are you still there?”

“Yes.” he said.

“Well what should we do?” She said anxiously, still twisting and untwisting the phone cord.

“I really don’t know. I’ll come home now.” He hung up and left her to wait, wondering what would happen.