20061120

The Wraith Can't Do His Homework

by David Miller

The wraith is this skinny 4th grader who never says anything, just stares out through the cafeteria windows, wondering who -- mom, step-mom, dad, step-dad, babysitter -- is going to pick him up from the after-school program. He has a way of floating around the playground, hovering over the homework table, watching everything as if it were a TV show. Today he pulls a sheet out of his backpack and says in his nasally voice, "I have homework tonight that I can't do." "What do you mean?" I ask. He passes me the sheet, which announces CSAP STANDARDIZED TESTING, explaining that for students to achieve maximum performance, teachers will not be giving any homework this week, but ask that parents assist students in getting a good night's sleep and eating a good breakfast. "I never get a good night sleep or eat breakfast," the wraith says as he pulls the sheet back with his delicate fingers. Then he files it away in his homework folder and goes back to his place by the window.

6S

David Miller, author of They Wore Ties, is a regular contributor to magazines such as Mountain Gazette, and the webmag Matador Travel.

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