The Lecture

Short Story Day 136 of 365

Mrs. Dorothy Landon didn’t tolerate unruly kids and disrupters in her classroom, namely kids like Danny Troy. Even in the second grade, Danny was intentionally making girls cry by pulling their hair, picking fights with the other boys, and tripping people as they walked by – including Mrs. Landon herself. Danny wasn’t naughty or mischievous as some kids are, but he was downright mean.

In the same grade was Alvin, who was vying for the title of class clown. Quick with a witty comment even in the second grade, Alvin spoke out more often than Mrs. Landon cared for. Everything was a joke to Alvin.

After class one day, Mrs. Landon stood over Alvin’s desk with her hands on her hips and her glasses dangling from a strap around her neck, Her eyes were laser-focused on Alvin, and even though he wasn’t looking at her, he knew she was staring hard at him. A grade school teacher for 42 years, Mrs. Landon understood kids and their problems. What she saw in Alvin disturbed her, not because of his behavior but where he was heading.

Alvin stared at the floor and shuffled his feet, glancing up every minute or so.

“When you first came to my class, Alvin, you were fine, delightful even, but then you started to imitate Danny. What he does is sometimes mean and hateful. I’m starting to see you do some of those things.

“Alvin,” Mrs. Landon said. “I’m only going to say this one time, so listen carefully. You do not need to be Danny Troy. He is trouble and you’re not like that. I don’t know why you do the things you do. Maybe you like the attention. Maybe you’re just trying to be funny, but you’re not like him. You’re a good kid, Alvin. Understand?”

Alvin nodded without looking up.


He slowly raised his head.

“Alvin, I’ve spoken with your mother a number of times on the phone. I know a little about your home life, your brother and all the trouble he’s in, your father and where he’s gone.”

Silence as he looked back at the floor.

“Alvin, I’m glad you’re in my class. You’re a very bright boy.”

Even before she saw his face full on, she saw his countenance had changed. She could tell he was processing what she had just said.

Mrs. Landon winked at him and said, “Have a great afternoon, Alvin. See you tomorrow,” and then she left.

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