George walked the halls of his old high school with the lavishly-wrapped package in hand. He’d seen it in the airport and immediately knew it would be the perfect gift for Mrs. Davies – his English teacher during his senior year. George grinned as he smoothed the lapel of his Armani suit. She’d told him he’d never amount to anything. He’d already proved her wrong, and then some. Now, he couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when she saw him…and opened the gift. He knew the twenty-six dollar sign was going to be worth every penny…
Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.
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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: $26 Typo”
Growing up, people thought that Luther was just plain dumb. His grade school teacher had no idea what to do for the boy. No matter how hard she tried to teach him to read, write and do his math problems, he always seemed to get things mixed up or backwards. Back in the olden days, no one had ever heard about a learning disablity known as dyslexia. It took years before they figured out that poor Luther wasn’t dumb, he was just dyslexic.
Once they identified the problem they were able to teach him how to deal with his learning disablity and he went on to live a very productive life.
Most days are fine, but every once and awhile he has a day like today, when he shows up bright and early at the hardware store because he saw a notice that read, THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE MOWR.
Though english had never been George’s strong point, he had always been a good communicator. Though he occasionally spoke ‘improperly’, it had never stopped him from getting his point across.
After starting with nothing but a few good ideas and a lot of hard work, he had started a small advertising business that had grown beyond what anyone could have imagined.
Now after making his first million he was coming home. The first person he wanted to impress was Mrs. Davis. After all it was she who had belittled him, calling him worthless. How could an educator be so heartless, so cruel?
Stopping at the door to his old classroom George peeked through the window.
At the desk, wearing a flowered dress sat a rotting corpse!
George quickly squeezed his eyes tight shut and shook his head. He had thought he had put these terrible visions behind him. It was high school since he had even thought of this nonsense.
Shaking his head George entered the room. There sat Mrs. Davis wearing that same flowered dress and looking no older then she had five years ago.
Without bothering to look up, she said, “Yes.”
Suddenly George was again the powerless senor who had to receive a passing grade in english to graduate and would do anything, yes anything to pass. Now he remembered the blood oath he had taken, his promise to return.
He knew the gift would do nothing to alter the terrible price he now had to pay.
George reached the office that he was certain still belonged to Mrs. Davis. Turning the doorknob as he knocked and slowly peeked in, he couldn’t wait to see her reaction.
“Can I help you?” an elderly man asked from behind a filing cabinet.
“Is Mrs. Davies in today?” George disappointedly questioned as he fumbled with the sign and the airport gift in his hands.
“Mrs. Davies no longer works here. What brings you here, son?”
“Well, I thought I would pay Mrs. Davies a visit since she was one of my favorite teachers in high school …” George stammered as he tried to make up a good lie.
“Wait, I remember you,” the old man exclaimed, “you’re George Smithfield from my English class a few years ago.”
The old man began to tremble – like Mrs. Davies had on the last day of school when George had told her what a witch she was for failing him in English.
Not graduating on time still angered George. But, in a stomach-churning change-of-heart, George realized that he had made a monumental mistake in coming back.
Regaining his composure, Mr. Davies calmly said, “I guess no one told you about my gender reassignment surgery.”
“Well, um, no,” George murmured as he desperately tried to hide the sign and the box containing the coffee mug engraved with “if the broom fits, ride it”.
Flush with embarrassment, he left the office. As the door closed, George could hear the wicked laughter.
He had failed again.
School administrators patted George on the back and shook his hand as he headed to the English lab.
When he got to the door, he spied Mrs. Davies through the tiny vertical window. There she stood, still wrinkled and worn-looking, just like her dress. She pointed to a sentence on the chalkboard.
He had rehearsed probably fifty different lines to accompany his gift, but he kept coming back to the one about not needing good grammar to succeed in life. George glanced down at the gift, then back up at Mrs. Davies. She pointed to a student. George could hear muffled words, and then saw Mrs. Davies muster a smile. She’d never smiled at him. She’d been exceptionally hard on him, in fact.
For a moment, George wondered what kind of person he’d be now if his bitterness towards her hadn’t driven him to prove her wrong. All his other teachers had found him funny and charming. But not Mrs. Davies.
George pivoted to walk away. Then he stopped, took a deep breath, turned back, and entered the classroom.
Mrs. Davies froze when she saw him.
“Remember me?” George asked.
She hesitated nervously, then said, “You’re George Lyons.”
“That’s right, and I brought you this.” He placed the gift on her desk.
Mrs. Davies approached the present and began gingerly removing the wrap as if it might explode. Her face dropped when she saw the glaring grammatical error.
George smiled. “Because of you, I knew that was wrong. Thank you for that.”
Sign Of The Times
George and his English teacher had had a steamy illicit relationship during his senior year in high school. He was failing her class but told her that unless she gave him an “A” he would tell the school administrators and her husband of the affair. “George, you can barely put two words together, good luck finding a job” she had told him as she reluctantly changed his grade.
Now, five years later, George was going to prove her wrong. He had made something of himself and he was going to make sure she knew. After graduation he began working at one of his father’s used car lots. He did quite well as shmoozing came naturally. He eventually settled down, got married, and had children, but not in that particular order. When his father passed away, George inherited the business and was finally able to live large. Today he was returning for a class reunion. When George saw the sign in the airport gift shop he knew he had to get it. Mrs. Davies had had a goofy poster with those very same words above her desk and now she would get an upgrade. When he handed it to her she laughed. She said it was ironic that he should give her a sign with a typo. George wrinkled his brow as he looked at his gift. “What typo,” he said.
George walked past the principal’s door remembering the times he’d been sent there by Mrs. Davies.
“Stop drawing. You should pay better attention.” Mrs. Davies voice repeated that phrase the most. He was a daydreamer. He took up much of his time in school drawing and doodling images that had become icons to the country. This much he was sure of. He was going to make Mrs. Davies eat her words.
Turning the corner of the hall, he saw the door, the one he stood out front of many times. He knocked on it and peeked through. A young man stood at the front. Bored teens turned slowly. Several stopped texting to see what was about to happen. He opened it and walked in. “Excuse me, is this Mrs. Davies’s room?”
“No, I’m sorry. She passed away two years ago. Can I help you?”
The words stung him. He’d planned his meeting so carefully. It wasn’t surprising that she’d gone and died. The revenge was less sweet. He noticed above the board the familiar sign. Mrs. Davies’s motto made him decide to finish.
“I brought her a gift. I used to be her student. You can have it in her memory.”
He walked forward and placed it on the desk. The young teacher ripped the brown paper wrapping to reveal another sign. This one read: “Imagine your future. You never NO what it will bring.”
“That’s a beautiful thought. The typo is funny. Your name is?”
He took a deep breath and plastered a well practiced smile on his face. He was on the charm offensive Mrs. Davies was going to notice him today.
He wanted to talk to her about the effect she had on him all this years ago. He wanted to inform her that if she would have been more vigilant she would have noticed he had a learning disability called Dyspraxia. He was perfectly able to read but couldn’t understand the need for circles around numbers etc. and it threw his whole mind into disarray.
He opened the door slowly and came face to face with his nemesis, Mrs. Davies.
“Hello, can I help you?”
He couldn’t take in how frail she looked, vulnerable, even. Is this really the creature that has terrorized his dreams. “Hello, Mrs. Davies, you probably won’t remember me.”
“I remember you well George and I owe you an apology, please come in.”
Totally taken aback she had completely floored me. I had planned to hurl it all in her face all the hurt her actions and words had caused me.
I explained how she has marked me over the years and she explained how frustrated she was back then that she could see intelligence in his eyes but he came across as devil-may-care and lazy.
I put all my resentment to rest and we hugged. I handed her the gift it was a t-shirt with the word Irony on it and underneath it said Your an Idiot.
It was big. I could hardly get it under my arm. The wrapping paper was white with little pink roses, each about the size of a quarter. The girl at the shop in the airport even trimmed it in ribbon.
Mrs. Davies’ eyes lit up when I handed her the package. She hurried to unwrap it, smiling as big as daylight.
“Its wrong”, she said. There was a brief pause and then, “Gets should be neither possessive nor contracted.”
Spelling was never my strong suit, but I was even worse at grammar.
Mrs. Davies looked out over her glasses at me with a most disapproving glare. My heart sank within me. I glanced away, embarrassed.
Just then an announcement came over the loudspeaker in the gymnasium, echoing off the rear wall.
“My name is Principal Blackwood and I would like to call Mr. George Cannon to the stage please.” As I approached all eyes were upon me.
“It is with great honor that we announce the recipient of this year’s Benevolent Alumni Award, Mr. George Cannon. Mr Cannon has graciously donated over $200,000 to our scholarship fund. Mr Cannon has also asked that this honor be shared with the one he believes most influenced him. The cosponsor for the scholarship is none other than our very own Mrs Eunice Davies.”
Just then in the rear of the room a loud shriek and thump could be heard. As everyone turned to looked they found Mrs. Davies passed out on the floor.
He caught his breath as he neared her classroom. The excitement and anticipation was a bit more than George had counted on. Mrs. Davies assessment of his abilities, well, the sting was still dug into him pretty deep.
The thing that hurt the worst though, the thing that still haunted him even now, she said it in front of not only the entire class that day, but in front of Stanley. Stanley and George had competed all through school to outdo each other. And when they crossed the stage at graduation, it had been Stanley Liebowitz that walked across as valedictorian.
But George had done well for himself. Built his company from scratch. His sprockets were selling their way to him being listed as one of the top 100 most eligible bachelors. George’s Sprockets were a Fortune 500 movers and shakers company.
He stood at the door into Mrs. Davies room. An old poster covered the window, probably one of the motivational posters she put up every year. He held the handle tight and let out a heavy sigh. A quick knock and he didn’t wait to be told to come in.
His eyes fell on the shrine before he saw anything else in the room. Stanley’s picture surrounded by golden flowers sat on a small table near a window that looked out on the courtyard. He had beaten George yet again. Without a word he dropped the present on the table and walked out of the room.
“Look at this mess, George. The grammar’s all wrong. You’ve spelled ‘there’ four different ways on the same page. Your punctuation is all over the place. The only job you’ll ever get with kind of work is trash pick-up.”
Those words stung when Mrs. Davies said them back in high school. They still did, but I turned them around. A dozen books, three on the best seller list, and two movies. Quite a bit better than a janitor. At least she got one thing right. I needed to get my act together. Right after graduation I poured my soul onto page. Now I had money to burn on Armani suits. And a special little gift for Mrs. Davies. I’d rub this twenty-six dollar sign right in her face.
“Well if it isn’t George P. Urim,” said Mrs. Davies as I walked into her classroom. “I was hoping you’d visit one day.”
“Uh, hi, Mrs. Davies,” I said. The smile plastered across her face was more disconcerting than the fact that she remembered my name after all this time. “I brought you something.”
Her eyebrows shot up as she took the package and removed the extravagant wrapping. As soon as she read the sign she started chuckling.
“I see you aren’t the only one with grammar issues. ‘Get’s the bird,’ indeed. At least you made errors work to your advantage.”
She motioned to her bookshelf. On it sat all twelve of my novels and ticket stubs from both movies.
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