What to do? indeed. Eldon is in the soup now. Only a week until Christmas! Eve, the night the Jolly Old Guy in the Red Suit makes his annual rounds. Not that that makes much difference now.
Well, it was Friday afternoon; it had been a long, long week and a certain fourth grade classroom is insufferably stuffy in the afternoons. Anyway. Mrs. H surely must be as tired as I am. I’ve never seen any evidence of this, thought Eldon, but she cannot be, must not be, Wonder Woman. Recess came at 1:45, an hour and twenty minutes before dismissal. Back into the classroom at two means what? an hour and five minutes before release for the week. I can’t make it, Eldon mused as he strolled aimlessly toward the far left side of the playground. It’s extremity bordered the creek, and anything within ten yards of the creek was off-limits. Yet sometimes, good fortune comes ones way.
The softball game was in progress, and a kid got a lucky hit, placing the ball thirty feet beyond Eldon. It landed just inside the forbidden territory. The fielder made a dash for the ball and Eldon saw his chance. Crouching, making himself small as possible., Eldon shot to his left and was behind an old mulberry tree in a trice. He peeked out. Mrs. H was still standing by the sidewalk looking the other way. Very soon she blew her whistle and her charges ran to the door.
All but one charge charged into the building, and the remaining one charged into the brush, jumped across the creek and was on his way to... He was on his way where? He certainly could not arrive home this early, and wandering through the village would be entirely too conspicuous. So, while his classmates enjoyed hearing another chapter of Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing Eldon wandered across a recently-combined cornfield, kicking at an occasional stob, picking up an occasional clod and heaving it toward an imaginary enemy.
His triumph was short-lived, because this solitude, while being in the great out-of-doors and free of the stuffy, smelly classroom miasma, was not nearly so much fun as the boy had imagined it would be. The hour dragged on and on, the lad’s fingers were miserably cold. Finally Eldon saw a bus pass on the nearby road. He could head home now.
“Hi, Mom,” Eldon enthused. That was weird. It was like pulling nails, and I mean fingernails, to get a word from Eldon when he arrived home. But Mom didn’t need to guess, because his truancy had been reported to her long before he arrived home. Funny how that works.
Color Christmas! black, Eldon thought. Oh, man, color Christmas! gone.