“Ok class. We are beginning a new semester and much to y’all’s amazement…I came up with a great idea for a fun and new project.” The creative writing teacher announced.
A collective discouraging moan was heard in unison from the throats of the students.
“Wow….hold all your excitement to yourselves please.” She replied as a single hand went up.
“We just got back from Christmas break. Can’t we just ease into the new semester by writing about our holiday?” He asked.
“Ummm….no. You all have been doing that particular writing assignment every year in since you were able to go school. For lack of a better term…it’s boring. Nice try, though. Here is the assignment….”
She opened up her laptop, which is connected to the video monitor on the wall, and started it up. While awaiting for the startup to finish she explained her project to them.
“We have seen each other approximately 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, for the first semester of school…”
Timmy interrupted, “Some of us more than that Mrs. Lane.”
Giggles erupted and Mrs. Lane gave him a stern look and continued.
“Thanks for the reminder, Timmy. Anyway, I have learned a lot about you and have enjoyed watching your writing improve and creativity increase as this time has gone by. This project will be called
“The Family Tree”
“Now, a family tree is the history of your family. To get all that information would be very time consuming. What I would like you all to do, is to use your computers and find an image of a tree that best resembles your family history and write on how you will continue to enhance your family history. Any questions?”
“So, we just find a picture of a tree….and then write about why we picked it and where we fit in to it?” Holly asked.
“Couldn’t have said it better myself, Holly. Thank you. You have the remainder of the class to find your image and to begin the writing part of it. Remember, be creative, honest and have fun with it. It must be turned in tomorrow.”
Much to her surprise, the entire class turned in the previous days assignment….on time!
After the school day ended, she returned home to begin reviewing and grading the assignment.
After getting through 1/2 of the papers. She made the observation that most were not very creative, although fairly honest most obviously did not have much fun with it. They did however try to flower it up with big words and phrases to try to impress her. As for the pictures that went along with the essays most were the trees she expected, oak trees, redwoods, dogwoods, fir and a few willows.
She was about to take a coffee break when she got to Deborah’s turned in assignment.
She stared at the photo for a few minutes, waited for the chill she received to subside, and began to read her essay.
THE MESUSA TREE
By Deborah Lancer
I picked the medusa tree for my assignment because it best represents my family tree. I do not know my entire family history, just enough about its living members to know that it scares me. The base and main trunk of the tree is my grandmother. She runs the family from her prison cell. Each scary branch represents her offspring of followers that do as she says, when she says to do it. Thugs, criminals, drunks, thieves. I don’t fit in. I won’t keep the roots of the tree growing stronger. When I get older I will cut the tree down. The medusa tree will be no more.
She sat back and exhaled a long breathe. She thought to herself, “This can’t be true….Deborah is always in a good mood, gets great grades, and has no enemies….how can this be?”
She decided to have a talk with her after class the next day.
“Deborah, I need to see you after class, please.” She requested.
“Yes, ma’am.” Deborah replied.
“I am concerned about the assignment you turned in, Deborah. It makes for great reading, but it can’t be true. I asked for an honest paper….not a..”
Deborah rudely and sternly interrupted,
“Look Mrs. Lane. I have never lied before, and I’m not now…..you gave the assignment. I did it. It was not fun for me. The truth is about as creative as I can get. You don’t believe it because of the way I act at school. The reason for that is this- I put on a show that I am the all American good kid because I have to. If I don’t MY world crumbles. If I let out the truth of my home life and family history….my world crumbles. In my short life I have witnessed and heard of things that most could not bear…..but it is kept IN THE FAMILY! The tree will fall when I am old enough to make it fall. Until then just grade the damn paper and move on to the next assignment!!”
Deborah cleared her throat, straightened out her floral print dress and looked sheepishly at the teacher and said,
“Is there anything else Mrs. Lane? If not, I really must go, I would hate to be late for Algebra……”
“N..n..no Deborah…that is all.” Mrs. Lane replied with wide eyes and unsure mindset.
“K….see you tomorrow!” Deborah gleefully said and skipped out of the room and off to her next class.
Mrs. Lane just sat there for a moment behind her desk…stunned. With shaky hands she picked up Deborah’s assignment in one hand and her grading pencil in another. With a pause she set the paper on the desk and placed a grade on the top of the page.
As she was about to place it onto the graded stack with the others, she paused and then reconsidered the grade.
She marked out the initial grade,
And replaced it with one she felt more comfortable with.
“Let’s see what Deborah and the family thinks of that.” She thought to herself with a confident smirk. And placed it on top of the pile……
And smiled as the next round of students filed into class.
This post was created after finding the image of “the medusa tree” on Google. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The words were my 1000.