Once upon a time, Bentley Douglas woke up with a very strong urge to stay home from school. He hadn’t done his homework. Again. And was going to end up in detention. Again. Even though he was awake, he lay in bed with his eyes tightly shut, hoping that he could make the day disappear if he just ignored it. Maybe, just maybe, the day wouldn’t happen to him if he just pretended it didn’t exist. Just then, his alarm went off, reminding him it was time to get up. Rats, he thought. He slowly opened his eyes, got out of bed, had a long stretch and got dressed in his school uniform. He went to walk out of his room but stopped suddenly. In front of him, where his bedroom door used to be, there were now three separate doors leading out of his bedroom.
Forced into making a choice, Bentley decided to try his luck with the first door. He opened it slowly, and, to his surprise, the door led him directly into his classroom. He could see his classmates all preparing themselves for the school day and placing their homework that in the giant tray on Miss Ingrid’s desk. Before he had a chance to turn around and shut the door, Miss Ingrid spotted him and called him over to her desk. “Am I right in presuming that you will not be handing in your homework again today, Mr Douglas?” Miss Ingrid didn’t lift her eyes up from the work on her desk. Not sure if this was a dream or not, Bently started to stammer. “Well… it’s just that… see… my dog… he was hungry… and… he just kind of… well, he ate it… all of it.. in one big gulp… and there was just no time…”
“To the headmaster’s office, please, Mr Douglas,” Miss Ingrid interrupted.
Bentley didn’t have the energy to argue, so he slowly made his way to the classroom door and was almost relieved to find that it led him straight back to his bedroom.
Bentley now realized that he had to choose one of the two other doors. He figured it was all down to chance, so he opened the middle door and was a lot less shocked this time to find that he was back in his classroom. All the other students where again handing in their homework and preparing themselves for the school day. Mrs Ingrid spotted Bentley and beckoned him over to her desk.
“Well, this seems quite typical of you, Mr Douglas,” Miss Ingrid said, staring at him while tapping her pencil on the table. “Empty-handed again, I see. We seem to have made a habit of this this year haven’t we?”
“It’s just that… well… you see… my hand… I was climbing a tree… a big tree… and… I fell… it was a four-meter drop…. maybe five… and the ground was hard… I mean… it was pretty hard… so, there was no way that I could…”
“Tell it to the headmaster, Mr Douglas!” Miss Ingrid closed her diary that she had been furiously writing in while he was talking and sent him on his way. Bentley opened the door to the classroom and was relieved to find that he was again safely back in his own bedroom.
With only one more door to try, Bently thought he might take a different approach this time. He braced himself, opened the third door and walked back into the classroom. He boldly approached the teacher’s desk and, just as Miss Ingrid was about to make a prediction that Bently hadn’t done his homework, he looked her firmly in the eyes and confidently stated, “I haven’t done my homework, Miss Ingrid.”
“I thought as much, Mr Douglas.” This time, Bently had Miss Ingrid’s full attention. “Would you mind telling me why I shouldn’t give you detention considering all of your classmates have completed theirs?”
“I just didn’t see the point.” Miss Ingrid lowered her head and stared at Bentley from over her glasses for what felt like forever.
“Is that a fact, Mr Douglas? Are you able to elaborate on that?”
“Well, I just think that kids should be outside playing rather than being stuck inside doing homework. It’s good for their brain and spirit to be physical, you know. I mean, most kids don’t really get help from their parents with their homework, anyway, so they either already know the information or they’re not really learning anything. That’s not to mention the fact most kids in our class have sports or music practice of some kind. I’m just not sure homework serves the purpose that we would like it to.”
There was a strong, silent tension between the two of them. “Fine,” said Miss Ingrid. “Even though your homework was to write out an argument for why kids shouldn’t do homework, I’ll give you a B+. But, I can’t accept your homework verbally all of the time. O.K?”
Shocked, Bentley quickly nodded before Miss Ingrid changed her mind.
“Here,” Miss Ingrid held out a note. “Take that to the head master’s office and he’ll give you this week’s homework award.”
Bentley went to leave the classroom and realized that he risked ending up back in his bedroom if he did. He walked back to Miss Ingrid’s desk and held out the note. “I think there’s a strong argument that I don’t really deserve this, either, Miss Ingrid.” Bentley placed the note back on her desk and went and took his seat.
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