Amazing Kids! Magazine

Beep

By Claire Borecki, age 16, Darien, CT

 

Hannah Ferguson and Sophie Vilter were doing homework together in the morning in Hannah’s bedroom, two hours before it was due.

They insisted that it was a totally unavoidable situation.

Hannah was attempting to actually write an essay. Sophie was avoiding the process of thinking and was writing an essay consisting of artful scribbles instead.

Something very peculiar and noisy seemed to be happening right outside the bedroom door. It was like a large, vaguely humanoid object wheeling backwards, wheeling forwards to crash alarmingly into the door, and then rolling backwards again. The vaguely humanoid object did not seem fazed by the repetition of this task, and Hannah started to fear for her door, an object she rather liked.

“I think I should open the door,” she said to Sophie.

“That seems reasonable,” she responded idly, perfecting the illegibility of her essay.

Hannah opened the door.

“Beep!” said the large purple robot as it wheeled into the room, stole Hannah’s homework, and left.

“What…” said Hannah.

“What?” said Sophie, who had missed it entirely, rapturously devoted to making a paragraph she had written about hairstyles look as though it might contain an analysis of literary devices in To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Beep!” said the large purple robot as it wheeled out of the driveway and down the street.

“Flu…pa…ruh?” managed Hannah.

“Excellent idea!” said Sophie, adding “Fluparuh” to her essay, hoping its shape vaguely resembled a literary device.

Hannah’s brain, which had previously occupied itself with the conundrum of deciding which pizza toppings to order for lunch, had not been expecting this situation and had promptly evacuated.

“Hey, where’d your homework go?” asked Sophie.

Hannah’s brain came rushing back. “Homework” was just as terrifying as large purple robots, but at least they knew how to handle it. Hannah stared at the empty desk where her homework had once been. “NO HOMEWORK DETENTION DEATH” said her brain helpfully.

Hannah drew herself up in a manner she hoped came off as purposeful.

“I,” she said, “am going to report my homework stolen.”

She left to report her homework stolen.

“Sure,” Sophie articulated. She wrote “stolen” with her non-dominant hand, then set about erasing bits of it for effect.

When purchasing a house, Mrs. Ferguson’s criteria had included “proximity to various law enforcement headquarters,” just in case anything happened. This is only relevant in explaining the length of Hannah’s walk; in fact, the police office was right next door.

Hannah was entirely comfortable being in police quarters after several efforts by her mother to extinguish any negative impulses early in her daughter’s life. This had included spending a night in a cell for stealing a library book. It didn’t quite work as intended; the arresting officer brought popcorn and Mulan, and performed an astoundingly earnest but terrible rendition of “I’ll make a man out of you” before taking her to breakfast the following morning.

There was only one cop in the building, behind the front desk. He stared at Hannah out of angry, squinty eyes. He took an angry sip of coffee. He gave his newspaper an angry shake, indicating the coffee was bad.

Hannah guessed that this was not the best time to be speaking to this officer. But there was nothing she could do about that.

(Hannah guessed correctly. In fact, if she had continued to guess correctly, she may have guessed that said cop had come home last night very late, insecure in his heroism due to a failed arrest. Said cop’s wife had pointed out to said cop that heroism started at home you know, and she had a job too just in case you forgot, and everyone had bad days at work but that didn’t mean they could all go out instead of spending time with their children, and said cop responded that washing clothes and cleaning vomit didn’t make anyone a hero, but if that’s what she thought maybe she should quit her job and wash clothes and clean vomit for a living instead, which didn’t go over well.)

“What?” snapped the officer.

“I’d like to report something missing.”

“Also burglary,” added Hannah.

The officer stared angrily. He took out paper and pen, squeezing the pen in a manner that was decidedly angry and unfriendly.

“What?” repeated the officer.

“A large purple robot broke into my bedroom and stole several sheets of homework off my desk,” said Hannah.

The officer was so surprised he almost failed to look angry.

“What did this robot look like?” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” Hannah realized. “I just remember that it was large. And purple.”

“Did it say anything?” pressed the officer.

“Yes,” said Hannah, more confidently. “It said ‘Beep’.”

“Ah,” said the officer. “And what kind of homework did it steal, exactly…?”

“Well, it stole the essay I was writing on a few sheets of lined paper,” she responded.

“I’m very sorry to hear that,” said the officer, “but unfortunately, I can’t help you.”

“But why?” asked Hannah.

“Because you’re lying,” replied the officer.

“But I’m not lying,” she protested.

“Well, that’s not my problem,” he said promptly, and went back to angrily shaking his newspaper.

Hannah left, despondent.

She rode the bus with Sophie, who totally ignored her because she was still trying to write her entirely gibberish essay, even when she now knew it would’ve taken less time just to put the thought in and write an actual essay, a point which she was trying very hard not to reveal to her brain. It was difficult.

They walked into their conveniently timed first period English class together.

Mrs. Owens was just not having it. She was three months into her first year teaching and it just wasn’t doing it for her. She had come into the profession expecting smiling children and perfect hair. She checked her hair in a mirror. It looked awful. She had spent the last night trying to grade papers, but had ended up with a curiously large bruise on the top of her forehead and a pile of saliva-topped essays, in addition to an absurdly long list of recent calls to a yogurt store. Luckily, her students had been abnormally well behaved due to the recent break.

Mrs. Owen’s students were being abnormally well behaved because they were terrified. She looked absolutely crazy.

At the moment, Mrs. Owens was just not having it because Hannah was trying to tell her that a large purple robot had broken into her house and stolen her homework, and the cops were very grumpy and wouldn’t believe her so she hadn’t been able to report it missing. Because of this, there were currently no leads, but she was sure if somebody helped her they’d find the large purple robot soon enough. Hannah breathed and became comfortably less purple.

“Detention,” said Mrs. Owens.

Hannah slumped. She had been defeated, defeated by the dehumanizing construct of teacher-ness.

“Beep,” said the large purple robot as it rolled into the classroom, handed in Hannah’s essay, and left.

Judging by the length of the essay, the robot seemed to have written it for Hannah. She couldn’t believe her luck.

The class was totally silent. No one talked. All finger-pointing, hand-heart-making and eye flirtation had ceased. Mrs. Owen’s brain, not unlike many others, had some issues coping with the sudden appearances of robots. However, she was holding the essay the robot had handed in, as well as a red pen, and, by George, of all things, she knew how to read an essay.

As she read, something curious happened. Her entire capacity for childhood wonder and literary empathy welled up in her eyes. There wasn’t quite enough room in there, and they seemed to bug out unhealthily. She shook with revelations of the human condition. She stumbled backwards under the weight of the wholeness of the universe. She cried tears of joy and laughed laughs of inspiration. She left the classroom, took a one way flight to Bermuda, lived in a hut and sold fruit for a living.

Hannah never wrote her own essay, and no one ever had to read Sophie’s mind-bogglingly terrible attempt at one.