“Left Behind” by Mark Tullius

July 25, 2010


School’s out, eighth grade’s over, a time for celebration. But not for Ben, a simple boy who’s been left behind the last two years. [11min]

Excerpt:

Ben swung back and forth across the sand, his shoes gliding across the surface as he scrunched his eyes and stared at the top of the sun disappearing behind the cafeteria. If he kept looking at the sun, maybe he’d go blind like his mom said he would. Then he wouldn’t have to open the envelope and look inside. If he was blind, he wouldn’t have to see his report card, find out if he’d been left behind once again.

There wasn’t anything for Ben to see out there anyhow. If he went blind, he wouldn’t miss a thing. Except for the all the trash flitting about, the playground was empty. Everyone was gone, off to their parties, glad eighth grade was over.

As the swing began to slow, Ben concentrated on the sun, staring as hard as he could, ignoring the orange and green Silly String sprayed across the buildings. He tried to make himself blind, trying not to remember the yells of celebration at the final bell, the taunting calls telling him to say hi to Miss Dykstra next year when he was back in her English class. He opened his eyes as wide as possible and watched the sun sink, pretending he didn’t mind not being invited to the pizza parlor and Guitar Hero parties. He kept looking at the sun, becoming happy when everything became dark then finally realizing it was because the sun had set.

Ben pushed off the sand and began swinging again, not caring he’d never been invited to the parties. Not the first time. Not last year. Not this day.

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