Millions Times Eight
by Jake Walters
Mick looked at the letter to his parents sitting on the kitchen table. It was from the school. Outside, he heard the sounds of children laughing and a ball bouncing on the street pavement. It was late August, and in just a week, their summer freedom was going to be erased. Mick was starting seventh grade.
The letter had been opened and was sitting unfolded beside a pile of crumbs, likely left by his older brother, Chaz, before he ran outside to meet up with his own high school friends. There was nothing unusual about receiving a letter from the school at about this time in the summer; a welcome back, hope everything is okay and that your summer treated you well and you had a chance to rest for the big year coming up kind of statement from the superintendent.
So Mick read it. And that was what it was, in the dullest, most boring language imaginable. Except for the very last paragraph, which read, “We are looking forward to working with our students this year, and we have some big surprises in store for all of them and all of you! We appreciate your trust in Linwood Schools!” Something about the words did not match the style of the rest of the letter, which had been business-as-usual. Something about the exclamation marks at the ends of the statements sent a little shiver down Mick’s back.