Note to readers: This is the beginning of a short story that I’m writing. I would appreciate feedback!
Tadpole. That’s what they called him. Little Benjamin was almost thirteen years old, but you couldn’t have guessed. He was short and waif-like and a sparse brown fringe covered his forehead. He had beautiful brown eyes – not that anyone could ever see them, for they were always covered with thick tortoise-shell glasses.
Ben liked being alone, particularly at school, because the boys never passed up an opportunity to jeer at him. Many in his class wondered if Ben could even utter proper sentences – all they had ever heard from him were monosyllables. Ben had big ideas, and he had big dreams, but he was just afraid to bring out his thoughts. What if he stammered? What if everyone laughed? What if Ben just looked silly? He spoke with an embarrassing stutter and to rub salt in his wounds, the boys at school would sometimes call him ‘t-t-t-tadpole’. Then, even Melanie, the gorgeous blue-eyed Melanie would laugh. On those days, Ben would retreat in his shell and pretend he didn’t exist.
During lunch Ben would disinterestedly pick at his lunch, which was always, always a carelessly prepared corn beef sandwich which gooey veggies on the side. Then at PE Ben would sometimes pretend to be sick, just so he could slink towards the bench and sit himself down and read that wonderful book about stars and planets and milky ways. The walk back to the classroom was tedious too; he would walk with his head down, lost in thought, startled whenever someone called out his name.
In the classroom Ben sat alone in the chair by the large window and he usually liked being in that secluded spot, where he could think calmly and work. He watched half-interested as the teacher droned on about a math problem. Math was one subject Ben actually enjoyed – it was something he could do without being taught. In fact, no one except his mother knew he could spend long afternoons doing nothing except solving new problems, the thrill of conquering each problem urging him on to the next one. “Who knows the answer to question number 6 on the board?” the teacher said.
Never had Ben ever ventured to speak in class, but as he saw the math problem on the board, he was sure of the answer. He had come across the problem only two days back in the comfort of his bedroom. Slowly but surely Ben raised his hand. The teacher looked toward him incredulously. “Ben? Well, what a pleasant surprise. Do you know the answer?” Suddenly the class was quiet; you could have heard a pin drop as with bated breath the class waited for Ben to answer.
Ben stood up awkwardly, a deep flush creeping up his neck. He took a deep breath. “Well, the answer is, 2a-a-a-a minus b, is equal to s-s-s-even a plus 6b-b-b.” There, he’d said it. And he was sure he’d gotten it right too. Except that as he was halfway through his answer, Josh, a tall back-bencher with a hint of a moustache on his upper lip said: “But wouldn’t that be 6a-2b? He scanned the writing on the board again. Of course. He saw it now — he’d been so silly. His answer was incorrect and as he sat back into his chair blushing furiously, dejected and mortified, a voice from the back said, “Th-th-th-think before you answer tadpole.” Someone giggled. Ben was sure it was Melanie.
To be continued….
So would you like to know what happens next? Would you read if Part 2 was posted on this blog? Do let me know. Thanks.