Funny stories in under 500 words.

Transparent Pants

We are a small family, ten or twelve counting me, the first-year teacher. This is seventh-grade Basic English, recently renamed from the pejorative, Special Curriculum or "Spe-Cu" for short. They are downtown kids, each with a story. I'm teaching a lesson in subject-verb agreement, still convinced presentation is everything.

They have been willing, but now halfway through Billy raises his hand and blurts, "Hey, teacher." .

I stop. Turn, holding my chalk.

With great urgency he says, "Roger has a boner. Look."

He points. "Show her Rog."

Roger springs from his seat, stands and puffs his chest. I look down at his too tight, transparent, summer white pants, yellow and gray from too many or too few washings. There it is, his swollen stalk etched perfectly and larger than I would have imagined for his thirteen years.

Roger beams. We all look. We are awed by this brief hiatus in higher learning. Now, there are choices a teacher can make, and I think of them all. Finally I say, "That's very nice Roger. Thank you for showing us."

Roger, as pleased as an honor student who just received an A, smiles shyly and sits down.

We go back to subjects and verbs. Presentation is everything.

Catherine Arra lives in upstate New York. A former English and writing teacher, her poetry and prose have been published in various journals online and in print. Recent work appears or will soon appear in The Timberline Review, Wildness, Boston Literary Magazine, Rose Red Review Pioneertown, Sugared Water and Ishka Bibble. Her chapbooks are: Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014) and Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015).


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