Aiming for Justice–Part II

Reminder to readers: This is a continuation of the ‘assignment’ to write an ending. Here is Part I of the ending.


We both stopped and looked at each other.

“Really?” I asked.

“We at least need to check,” said Maeve.

We slid the rolled up banner away from the office door, which on a normal day, would be wide open. Today, closed. Mrs. Dooling and Mrs. Taylor probably needed a break from the thousands of parents and kids trooping in and out with cupcakes and party supplies and who knows what else.

“We’re down to about two minutes!” I said. We unrolled the banner and—sure enough—instead of the usual ‘Have a great summer!”, the words ‘bummer of’ were taped over ‘great.

“That is totally the work of the Jamisons,” said Maeve.

I raced into the teachers’ supply room and came out with the widest, fattest black marking pen I could find.

“This banner needs just a few more words and it’ll be complete,” I said.

Maeve stood watch as I finished my work.

I tucked the pen in my pocket. “You go back first and I’ll come in right after.”

Just as I entered Room 13, they were lining up for the awards assembly.

“Mr. Beane, glad you could join us in time,” said Mr. Franks.

“Mr. Shoemaker asked me to help him with something,” I said. Lying, not my favorite escape strategy, but at the time, my only way out.

Maeve caught my eye and gave me the thumbs up.

The rest of the class trooped out, with Mr. Franks in the lead. Nice guy, but he never learned. A teacher at the front misses way too much elbowing and hip-bumping by kids who probably need four recesses a day.

Luckily, Room 13 was the last class leaving so there were no straggling kids to mess things up. I trailed the rest of the class and saw Maeve stop to tie her shoe.

I caught up to her. “What do you think? Ten minutes?” I asked.

“Should be about right,” she said. “I kind of remember they start with fifth-grade awards.”

“Sounds good.”

We walked together into the cafeteria entrance and I took a hard right turn into a supply closet as Maeve joined the rest of the class.

I could only hope Mr. Franks wouldn’t notice I was missing.

Once the cafeteria doors closed for the beginning of the assembly, I slipped back toward the upper grade hall. I settled into a corner for the wait and within a half-minute, I popped up.

The primary hall, I thought. That’s the place. But I needed to avoid the office.

I headed down the ramp, hopped the metal railing, and slipped behind the bushes that lined the front of the school.

It wasn’t as if it was the first time I had used guerrilla tactics to move around the school and I knew the ins and outs of these bushes. I ducked lower at the thinner areas and relaxed and stretched upwards when branches were thicker.

Finally, I made it to the primary classrooms.

I looked around. All was quiet. I stepped forward to get a closer look at my target. And then I saw a playground ball tucked into the far corner.

If I was a decent aim, that ball might give me a headstart back to the cafeteria, I thought. And I was about to hit the ten-minute mark Maeve had set for me.

I gave another quick glance, listened for any other possible interruption, and sidestepped to the ball.

I picked it up, took in a breath, took aim, and heaved it right for my target.



The alarm rang through the building.




Aiming for Justice

Today’s challenge: Write an ending.

This is the first half of the ending.


“But what are you gonna do about it?”

I hated when she asked me questions like that. They made too much sense. And they put me on the spot. And I had to take action.

“You’re not helping, Maeve.”

“I am and you know it. So, time for revenge?”

I looked off. “Not exactly revenge,” I said.


“I’m thinking, I’m thinking.”

We were down to our last ten minutes. The school year would be over and both of those shrubs would march off to summer vacation convinced they had beaten us. I couldn’t—no, WE couldn’t live with that.

Other kids were crowding around us, for whatever reason.

“Let’s get to the oak tree,” I said. “I can’t even breathe here.”

We stopped and started and bolted through a dodgeball game and bobbed and weaved through kids on the monkey bars.

Once at the oak tree, Maeve and I were able to sit and think.

“Okay, we know they’re leaving early. And we know their parents are coming to get them. And we know they’re expecting to receive the ‘Best Behavior’ awards,” I said.

“And we know they’ll be crushed if they don’t get those awards,” said Maeve.

“So, we at least have something to work with.”

From our vantage point, we watched the twins roam the playground with their usual band of followers.

We were both quiet for about a minute.

then we looked at each other.

“I think I have an idea,” we both said at the same time.


Our ideas didn’t match.


Because we would need both to make up our grand plan.

What we needed now was some alone time, as in while the rest of the school was in one place, we needed to be somewhere else.

With the upcoming awards assembly, we were halfway there.

The trick was to never actually join everybody else in that steam room they call the cafeteria.

The lunch bell rang and in we trooped toward Room 13.

“So, do we have our timing down?” I asked.

“I think so,” said Maeve. “I think there are about ten minutes till we all head over.”

“Okay,” I said. “I ask to hit the bathroom first. Two minutes later, you do the same. We meet at the end of the primary hallway.”

“Why there?” asked Maeve.

“Because everything and everybody is innocent down there. There’s no reason why Mr. Lundquist would be patrolling down there.”

It was starting to come together. Maeve and I would have about five minutes to track down whatever evil, annoying plan Emma and Ella Jamison had come up with.

Like clockwork, we met by Room 4 and started our search.

“You start at one end of the upper grade hall and I’ll start at the other. If we’re walking together, for sure we’ll get nabbed.”

“You mean,” said Maeve with a smile, “that if we’re within five feet of each other, people expect trouble?”

“On the last day of school, any two fifth-graders within five feet of each other might as well be wearing a sign saying, “Up to no good.”

“Okay, then, here we go.”

We headed out and within minutes we met in the middle of the upper grade hall.

“Anything?” I asked.

Maeve shook her head. “Not a thing.”

I sighed. “There has to be something they’ve done. Otherwise, why would they even bother to leave early on the last day of school?”

On our way back to Room 13, we approached the office. Rolled up against the wall was the banner Mr. Lundquist always hung out across the front as everyone left for vacation.

Food Crisis in Room 13

One of the challenges issued to us this month was to assume a different writing voice.
And to not bother with editing. Oy.

Here is my attempt.


lunchbox-xed out

It was another day in Room 13.

13—not my favorite number, but that’s how this school year rolled.

Unlucky from the get-go, as my dad often says.

But he’s usually talking about some football game he’s watching.

For me, it was unlucky in a lot of ways.

We had Mr. Jackson as our teacher.

He believed in writing.

A lot of writing.

He believed that if we sneezed, we should write about it.

And posters all over the room reminded us of how important it was to write.

There is no wrong way to start. Just grab a pen.

I am a writer.

Good writers practice.

It never ended with this guy.

The rest of us just didn’t want our hands to fall off.

And if you mentioned the computers in the lab for writing, he would shake his head and make some weird sound.

It sounded like, “Piffle”.

Anyway, today was unlucky in another way.

Our lunches were missing.

The whole barrel full of them. Gone.

And I was hungry.

The other kids were probably hungry too.

But, really, it was me I was worried about.

When it comes to food, that’s how it goes.

And I had missed my mid-morning snack.

Not a scheduled mid-morning snack like a lot of classrooms have.

Mr. Jackson didn’t believe in those.

So, on the way in from recess, I would snag my own snack.

A quick visit by my lunch bag, and—boom—granola bar in hand.

I’d crunch it up a little on the way to my desk and tear at the top.

And like clockwork, Mr. Jackson would start read aloud.

He’d be so wrapped up in James and the Giant Peach or any one of the Harry Potter books that it was clear sailing for me and my granola bar.

But, as I said, today was different.

Not a lunch bag in sight.

This was one of the few days when I wished I had a cafeteria account.

Something needed to be done.

“So, Mr. Jackson,” I said, “What are you going to do about our missing food?”

“Simple,” he said.”We’re going to write about it.”

Oh great. As if words will magically make my peanut-butter-and-apple-on-wheat to appear. And my bag of Doritos.

I’d take those Doritos over a steak any day.

Well, maybe not a steak, but you get the picture.

And in she walked. Emily Michaels. A sight for sore— and hungry—eyes.

She carried herself in just the right way.

A careful march toward Mr. Jackson’s desk.

Perfect balance.

Arms in exact position…

To carry six flat steaming boxes.

I knew those boxes. And I knew that smell.

Pizza from Gianni’s.

For all we cared, the missing lunches could be floating toward China.

“Happy birthday to me-e-e-ee!” said Emily, dropping the boxes, one arm at a time onto our teacher’s desk.

“But wait!” said Mr. Jackson. “We should write about this!”

Not a chance, Jackson. Not a chance.

We needed both hands for something more important.

More from the January Challenge