Chapter Six - Another Chance
The headmaster took a breath and banished the old memory. "Edwards, your marks and behaviour this year have been poor enough to earn you expulsion several times over." Charlie's chin dropped onto his chest. Hamilton shook his head and sighed again.
"However, I am prepared to give you one more chance." Charlie's chin lifted and a broad smile creased his face. "I will set a series of benchmark tests. Study hard, pass these tests and do not get sent to my office again for any misbehaviour and I will support your decision to return to school next year."
Charlie was overcome with relief and joy. "Thank you, Mr Hamilton, sir, I will do as best I can in the tests and I promise, you won't see me here again."
The headmaster sat forward, picked up his pen and began making notes in the discipline file. "Good. Now, Edwards, I don't know about this premonition business, I still believe your dream was caused by something you saw on TV or at the cinema or read somewhere. But whatever its cause, you may consider your dream a warning if you wish. You've shown surprising maturity in coming to see me today. And it's because of this, I've afforded you one more chance."
Still smiling broadly and feeling better than he had since the dream last night, Charlie practically gushed, "Yes sir, thank you."
Hamilton stopped writing and looked up at the boy. Perhaps there was hope for him. Perhaps he had learned from his ... dream. Perhaps he would use his brains and make something of his life. "Let this be a lesson to you, Edwards. Knuckle down and you will succeed. Give up and play the fool and your dream may well become your nightmare." Hamilton paused to let his message sink in. "Now, be gone, back to your class."
The headmaster returned his attention back to the discipline file, made a final note and closed it, reaching wordlessly for another pile of paperwork. Charlie turned and left the office, feeling much lighter of spirit than when he had sat on the bench waiting to be summoned. That night he broke the news to his astonished parents he had seen the headmaster and hoped to stay on at school and sit his final exams next year.
* * *
Charlie still felt light and happy when he went to bed. He had a peaceful, dreamless night's sleep and when he woke in the morning his first thought was of Old Heavy-handed Hamilton. "Yes, he was right," Charlie murmured to himself softly, so as to not wake his wife sleeping beside him. He crept out of their bedroom and walked quietly down the gloomy hallway, past the closed doors of his sleeping sons and daughters. Charlie opened the front door and looked at his beat-up van. Rather than start the engine and wake the family, he decided to walk to the local shops for a newspaper, so he could check the job ads for builders. Charlie wouldn't give up. He'd earn himself another chance.
© 1992 Robert Fairhead
Sydney, NSW, Australia.
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert is an editor and a writer for Tall And True and blogs at RobertFairhead.com. He enjoys reading, writing, playing the guitar, walking his dog, and watching Aussie Rules Footy with his son. Robert has worked as an electrician, sales and marketing rep, computer programmer, dog trainer and (wanna-be) writer. He also had a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.
I left high school when I was sixteen-years-old and, like Charlie Edwards, I started working in the building trade, before changing careers (several times!). I would often dream of being transported back to my school days, finishing high school, sitting my final exams. One day I decided to try and exorcise those dreams by writing this short story.