This is a special story written for my
famous, cool, superior, exceptional genius grandson Joshua
on his tenth birthday.
I love you Josh.
One day Josh woke up with a tight knot in his stomach. His regular teacher at school would be gone that day and a substitute was going to teach his class. Josh never knew what to expect when a substitute came because there was a nice substitute and a mean substitute. The nice one let the children party all day but the mean one took great pleasure in making the students into robot zombies. Sometimes Josh wondered if the mean one was an alien because she was always rolling her eyes and looking up at the ceiling. Josh decided to fake being sick that morning but his mother didn’t fall for it.
While he was walking into school Josh tried to get his mind off his impending doom by asking himself his favorite question: If a long range laser guided thermal nuclear heat-seeking missile hit your house, would you rather die by the explosion or the house caving in and crushing you? Next he thought about how to convince the principal that homework should be illegal because homework is forced payless work and forced payless work is called slavery and slavery was banned years ago.
When Josh arrived at his classroom his worst fears were confirmed. The mean substitute greeted him with, “Take your seat young man. Feet flat on the floor, eyes forward and mouth shut.”
Josh knew this would be the worst day of his life. First the substitute made all the students do pull-ups and push-ups in the gym. Then she made them all use the restroom and wash their hands. Next she had them start on ninety-six long division problems with remainders. But when she started a lecture about space travel including black holes, super novas and pulsars, Josh sat up straight and listened with both ears. Just for a minute he imagined himself floating weightless in space.
That is when the mean substitute asked Josh a question. Josh didn’t notice. Then she suddenly appeared at his desk.
“Well, young man,” the substitute asked.
“Well what?” Josh said.
“That is precisely the point. You don’t know what I asked you because you weren’t listening,” the mean substitute answered.
“You don’t know what I was imagining because you didn’t ask,” Josh answered.
The mean substitute rolled her eyes, looked at the ceiling then took him to the principal’s office.
“Yes?” the principal asked as Josh entered his room.
“I was imagining instead of listening,” Josh said.
“What were you imagining?”
“What it would be like to be floating in space.”
Can you keep a secret?” the principal said.
“Yes,” Josh answered.
Then the principal opened the closet door in her office and took Josh by the hand.
“This is my anything-you-can-imagine closet,” the principal whispered. “If you can imagine, it can happen.”
Before Josh knew what was happening the closet door closed behind them he was floating in space with the principal. They did superior cartwheels, exceptional back flips and daring nose dives.
“This is awesome,” Josh said. “Do the other kids at school know about this?”
The principal smiled, winked then told Josh it was time to go back to class.
“Your substitute may be harsh at times,” the principal said as she closed the closet door behind them, “but when she was a little girl she used to imagine living in a world made entirely of chocolate. Here, you take this chocolate candy bar to her. See what happens.”
Josh walked back to his class and noticed all the other students had left for recess. He walked up to the substitute and handed her the giant chocolate bar.
“How did you know that was my favorite?” the substitute asked. Then she sighed, leaned back in her chair and carefully unwrapped the foil. “I used to imagine living in a world where everything was made out of chocolate.” She took a bite, licked her lips and smiled. “By the way what were you imagining?”
“That I was Inderfurnius X the legendary, famous, cool, superior, exceptional genius space boy of the universe blasting off to the moon while eating doughnuts.”
“If I close my eyes, I can almost see you,” the substitute said. “Your spacesuit is silver with a crimson red light-saber blazing across the front and the doughnut is filled with rich milk chocolate.”
Josh squeezed his eyes together imagining the substitute as a little girl in the principal’s office with chocolate smeared on her face. Then the nice substitute broke off an enormously large hunk of chocolate from her giant candy bar and handed it to Josh.
Maybe this isn’t going to be such a bad day after all, Josh thought. Not such a bad day at all.