Acting Class

Feature photo: by Philippe Put ( Flickr )    See license

Feature photo: by Philippe Put (Flickr)
See license

I wrote this story in 2011 for Sparklife's Writer Wars series

The prompt: Write a short story about a 14-year-old boy named Stanley Plinkton. In your story, 2 things must occur: someone must be punched in the ear, and you must use the word "never" at least once.

"Stanley Plinkton!"

Stanley jumped as the shrill screeching of his fourth period drama teacher ripped him out of his short - but exceptionally entertaining - daydream. He blinked confusedly for a second, taking in the intense stares around him, until finally he groaned heavily and once again dropped his head down on his desk with a loud bang.

His teacher stood at the front of the room with her arms crossed, irritably tapping her perfectly manicured finger on her arm in a gesture of extreme frustration.

"Stanley Plinkton," she repeated in a calm but demanding tone, "I don't suppose you could demonstrate to the class what it is I expect you to be practicing for the remainder of the period, hm?"

Stanley, his head still resting upon the desk, rolled his eyes exasperatingly. He nearly laughed at the stupidity of this woman, this so-called "teacher", who expected him to actually pay attention in a class where all they did was read lines and get yelled at for reading them the wrong way. Boring! Even stupider was the fact that, by now, she ought to know the ways of Stanley Plinkton, the poor fourteen-year-old who was thrown into the class by his parents who just so happened to be famous in the acting industry.

And it was clear that Stanley would never follow in their footsteps. Ever.

With a heavy sigh, Stanley picked his head up off the desk, shrugged at the surrounding students as if to say, "Well, here I go again," and, hands in his pockets, slowly made his way to the front of the room. He came to a halt in front of the teacher and stared her down, his great height creating a shadow over the small, ornery old woman. He thought he saw a flicker of fear in her eyes for a moment, but it disappeared, quickly replaced by a look of severe disdain. He smirked.

The teacher waved another student up to the front of the room. "Graham Jensen," she said, presenting the well-dressed, slick-haired snob with a flourish of her hands as he approached, "will be your acting partner for this exercise since he's the best student in the class."

Graham smiled politely, a fake smile that had Stanley cringing his nose in disgust. "Thank you, Mrs. Vires."

Stanley snorted aloud, only to receive a heated glare from the demon teacher and a small smirk from the super snob. He rolled his eyes. What an annoying pair.

"Alright then," the teacher continued, proceeding to sit behind her desk. "Carry on."

Stanley blinked. "Wait, what are we- "

Suddenly, he spotted something moving towards him out of his peripheral vision. He began to turn his head to face the oncoming object which he quickly recognized to be a fist; however, his reaction was too slow. Though he managed to escape the full impact, he still felt the fist clip the front of his ear, bending the lobe backwards painfully. His head shook slightly from the dulled force and he staggered to the side, grabbing hold of the teacher's desk to steady himself. It was only then he realized that Graham had been trying to attack him.

"Well, Stanley?" the teacher said calmly. "What are you doing?"

"Mrs. Vires, he tried to punch me!" Stanley sputtered out, his eyes wide in disbelief as he gazed upon the emotionless face of his addressee.

The old woman stared back with tired eyes. "Why, yes, Stanley. That is the point. We're supposed to be stage fighting," she reminded him. Then, she smiled knowingly, her eyes glinting cruelly. "Or were you not paying attention?"

Stanley only stared into those cruel eyes that he knew would show him no mercy, no matter the circumstances. He only turned his head slowly to face his opponent, whose eyes reflected the same evil intent.

A conspiracy, Stanley thought, the realization hitting him like a brick. His stomach dropped.

"Oh, c'mon, Plinkton," Graham called, grinning maliciously. "It's just practice. All in good fun!"

Stanley glared coldly at him. Why was it that he was stuck in this class? What did he ever do to deserve this? He wished he could give Graham what he deserved, but he knew that wasn't going to be the case. Then what? Suddenly, he broke out into a huge grin.

"Whatever you say, Graham Crackers," he replied, still smiling widely. "Just remember. You're the one who said it."

Graham's malevolent smile twitched and formed into an angry frown at the sound of the nickname. He charged at Stanley, obviously aiming to harm him in some way even though he was only supposed to be pretending. Stanley could see that. The teacher obviously couldn't. "Only a mistake," she would say after the fact.

Keep that in mind, Stanley thought, smiling to himself.

The moment before Graham reached him, Stanley dove out of the way, making sure to leave his foot in place. Graham, surprised, tried to turn at the last moment, only succeeding in tripping over Stanley's foot and falling flat on his face. Both of them stood up, but this time Stanley was ahead of the game. He stood up quickly, quicker than his opponent, and, using all the force he could, threw an unforgiving punch at Graham's ear.

As Graham fell over, holding his hands over his ears and crying loudly, the teacher threw herself out of her chair and onto the floor next to Graham.

"Stanley Plinkton!" she chastised, hand shaking in shock as she helped Graham sit up. "What do you think you're doing?!"

Stanley grinned as he replied to her question with one, simple word.