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Homework: A Short Story

Justin had everything he needed laid out in front of him.

Geography book.

Notebook.

Pencil. Actually multiple pencils. The leads sometimes broke or just as often the pencils rolled away, as if by their own will, to hide under the desk. Justin included colored pencils too, just to make things interesting.

There was, of course, the homework sheet itself. It was a fill in the blanks sheet all about cartography, otherwise known as map-reading. Kinda boring, but okay. Time to focus, Justin thought. He looked to the left and saw his reading book and underneath that, a math worksheet. More work.

Focus.

Justin looked at the first part of the worksheet. He had to label the different parts of maps. Should be easy. First were a series of little triangles, all bunched together.

FOCUS.

“Psst,” came a voice from below.

Ignore. What were the little triangles supposed to be?

Then the voice again. “Hey Justin.”

Justin looked down to the floor. It was Rex, Knight of the Realm. Like usual. Being an action figure, he stared up at the giant Justin above. His four inch stature made him no less a warrior... he had shiny armor and a long silver sword. Rex had defended Justin's kingdom from many a threat, typically from Lord Tyranno, the Evil Knight, and Tyranno's menagerie of plastic dragons and assorted super villains.

“Justin,” Rex continued. “I really need your help.”

Justin put down his pencil. “Rex, I really need to do my homework. Okay?”

“But Justin, Lord Tyranno is planning an attack. Tonight.”

Justin sighed and picked his pencil up. He began tapping it slowly on the desk. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Rex spread his arms pleadingly. “We need you.”

Tap tap tap tap tap.

Justin had an idea.

“What do you need me to do?” he asked Rex.

“Fight with us,” Rex replied, raising his sword to the ceiling.

“Maybe,” Justin said, “Just maybe I could help you plan your attack.”

“Really?” Rex lowered his sword. This wasn't what he expected. “How do you mean?”

“I could make you a map,” Justin offered.

“A map?” Rex considered the idea for a moment. “I like that,” he said.

Justin smiled. “Okay, so give me a minute. I'm learning all about map making.”

Rex took a step back and waited, as patiently as any knight ready for battle could. Fortunately, Justin finished his worksheet in mere minutes. Rex saw him put the sheet aside.

“Are we ready?” Rex said eagerly.

Justin looked at his reading assignment. He was to read the short tale of a young boy, a squire to a heroic knight in medieval times, and answer a few questions about the story.

“I think this might help too,” Justin said. “I can learn all about knights and swords and jousting.”

Rex nodded. “Sounds like my kind of story,” the tiny warrior said.

Justin read through the story, about how the boy inspired the knight to victory over a much stronger foe. He was almost done with the questions when he heard a voice from the living room.

“Justin?”

“Yeah?”

“How are you doing on homework?”

“Almost done, mama,” Justin said.

Rex stiffened. “W- was that--” he stammered, “was that the Queen?”

Justin smiled. “Yes,” he said. “That was the Queen.”

Rex dropped to one knee and held his sword in front of him. “I am at your service, my Queen.”

“I don't think she can hear you,” Justin said.

Rex stood. “We must defend her kingdom,” he said.

“I know,” Justin said. He thought for a second. “I have a duty to the Queen too, you know.”

“You do?”

“Of course,” Justin said. “My duty...” He thought for a second. “My duty is to be the best kid I can for her. Do my homework, clean my room, all that stuff.”

Rex nodded slowly.

“Do you understand, Rex?”

The tiny warrior bowed. “I do, sir. A Prince's first duty is always to his Queen.”

“I just have to do my math. So keep an eye out for Lord Tyranno until I'm done.”

“I shall.” Rex turned and began scanning the horizon (in this case, the toy chest next to Justin's closet) for approaching villainy.

Justin finished his math worksheet just a few minutes later, far more quickly than he thought he would.

“Mama,” Justin shouted, “I'm done!”

Justin's mom entered his room and stood behind him. She gave his shoulder a quick squeeze.

“Math and everything?” she said.

“Math and everything,” Justin replied.

She stooped down and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“You're the best kid ever,” she said. “You know that?”

“I know,” Justin said with a giggle. “Can I play now?”

“Just for a little bit,” she said. “Then it's time for your shower and bed. Okay?”

“Mama?” Justin said as she exited his room.

“Yeah, honey?”

“I love you.”

A bright smile spread across her face. “I love you too,” she said.

Justin went for his foam sword as soon as his mother stepped out of the room. He kept it next to his desk, so he would always be ready to do battle. He hefted it, and suddenly it became gleaming silver, forged by the finest blacksmith in the land.

“Rex,” Justin cried out, “I'm ready!”

Justin heard a voice from the far corner of his room. It was Rex, of course.

“I need your help, Justin,” the knight said. “Lord Tyranno has locked me in his dungeon!”

“I'm on my way!” Justin cried out as he charged forward.

So Justin managed to rescue Rex and the two of them fought the good fight against the nefarious Lord Tyranno. Just until bedtime, of course.


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