Chapter no 64 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Detention‌


Some things you just can’t explain. You don’t even try. You don’t know where to start. All your sentences would jumble up like a giant knot if you opened your mouth. Any words you used would come out wrong.

“Jack, this is very, very serious,” Mr. Tushman was saying. I was in his office, sitting on a chair across from his desk and looking at this picture of a pumpkin on the wall behind him. “Kids get expelled for this kind of thing, Jack! I know you’re a good kid and I don’t want that to happen, but you have to explain yourself.”

“This is so not like you, Jack,” said Mom. She had come from work as soon as they had called her. I could tell she was going back and forth between being really mad and really surprised.

“I thought you and Julian were friends,” said Mr. Tushman. “We’re not friends,” I said. My arms were crossed in front of me.

“But to punch someone in the mouth, Jack?” said Mom, raising her voice. “I mean, what were you thinking?” She looked at Mr. Tushman. “Honestly, he’s never hit anyone before. He’s just not like that.”

“Julian’s mouth was bleeding, Jack,” said Mr. Tushman. “You knocked out a tooth, did you know that?”

“It was just a baby tooth,” I said. “Jack!” said Mom, shaking her head. “That’s what Nurse Molly said!”

“You’re missing the point!” Mom yelled.

“I just want to know why,” said Mr. Tushman, raising his shoulders. “It’ll just make everything worse,” I sighed.

“Just tell me, Jack.”

I shrugged but I didn’t say anything. I just couldn’t. If I told him that Julian had called August a freak, then he’d go talk to Julian about it, then Julian would tell him how I had badmouthed August, too, and everybody would find out about it.

“Jack!” said Mom.

I started to cry. “I’m sorry …”

Mr. Tushman raised his eyebrows and nodded, but he didn’t say anything. Instead, he kind of blew into his hands, like you do when your hands are cold. “Jack,” he said, “I don’t really know what to say here. I mean, you punched a kid. We have rules about that kind of thing, you know? Automatic expulsion. And you’re not even trying to explain yourself.”

I was crying a lot by now, and the second Mom put her arms around me, I started to bawl.

“Let’s, um …,” said Mr. Tushman, taking his glasses off to clean them, “let’s do this, Jack. We’re out for winter break as of next week anyway. How about you stay home for the rest of this week, and then after winter break you’ll come back and everything will be fresh and brand new. Clean slate, so to speak.”

“Am I being suspended?” I sniffled.

“Well,” he said, shrugging, “technically yes, but it’s only for a couple of days. And I’ll tell you what. While you’re at home, you take the time to think about what’s happened. And if you want to write me a letter explaining what happened, and a letter to Julian apologizing, then we won’t even put any of this in your permanent record, okay? You go home and talk about it with your mom and dad, and maybe in the morning you’ll figure it all out a bit more.”

“That sounds like a good plan, Mr. Tushman,” said Mom, nodding. “Thank you.”

“Everything is going to be okay,” said Mr. Tushman, walking over to the door, which was closed. “I know you’re a nice kid, Jack. And I know that sometimes even nice kids do dumb things, right?” He opened the door.

“Thank you for being so understanding,” said Mom, shaking his hand at the door.

“No problem.” He leaned over and told her something quietly that I couldn’t hear.

“I know, thank you,” said Mom, nodding.

“So, kiddo,” he said to me, putting his hands on my shoulders. “Think about what you’ve done, okay? And have a great holiday. Happy Chanukah! Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa!”

I wiped my nose with my sleeve and started walking out the door. “Say thank you to Mr. Tushman,” said Mom, tapping my shoulder.

I stopped and turned around, but I couldn’t look at him. “Thank you, Mr. Tushman,” I said.

“Bye, Jack,” he answered.

Then I walked out the door.

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