A sweet bunch of short stories that I write when poetry decides to quiet down in the background.

 “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

His heart increased its beat a little as he finished climbing up the final set of stairs. The old carpet floor was bald and worn. Peeled pieces of dry white paint from the wooden door looked like dandruff on the head. His heart now pounding thoroughly, artificial anxiety took over as he heard the jungle ruckus coming out behind the door he needs to enter. He stretched his hand to turn the knob of this tall, old door. He was surpassed by a wild kid his age bolting out and quickly down the stairs—a bundle of keys on his belt ringing in the distance.

There was no teacher in the classroom, only wild boys screaming, chasing one another, throwing paper snowballs at each other. Then, finally, he found a desk in the back corner, by the sizeable old window. As he sets his new backpack on the floor, he feels somebody’s presence near.

“What’s your name?” A nerdy-looking kid stretched his hand.
“Moshi.” He paused but felt like a cheat, so he added, “Manaenkov.”
“Mana-what?” Another boy appeared
“It’s Ma-na-en-kov”
“Maniacov?” A circle formed around Moshi. Each kid is trying out to pronounce his name.
“That’s right!” After that, Moshi decided not to get involved anymore. It was too much attention for his first minute in the class.
“My name is Saul,” Boy, wearing hearing aids, stretched his hand. “Where are you from?”
“I’m from Russia, Moscow,” Moshi replied, knowing that he used up most of his vocabulary, increasing the anxiety. “What is this?” He pointed at Saul’s hearing aids. He knew he wouldn’t understand the answer.

A fat teacher with a bushy black beard entered the classroom. Deadly silence dropped swiftly, like a guillotine knife. Moshi felt the authority vibrating from this teacher. Without a word, children made their way to their desks and quietly sat down.

“As you may already know, we have a new student with us.” His voice sounded like a roar. Moshi wiped the sweat on his palms against his black pants. “So good to see religious kids come out from the former Soviet Union that persecuted our people for their beliefs,” He finished.

“Is there going to be a test today?” A sweet boy asked naively, kids tried to shoosh him down, but the teacher heard his question first.
“Of course there will be.” The teacher put his glasses on and started going through the stack of papers he brought in.
“Rebbe, but how will Moshi answer his questions if he didn’t learn for it with us?” One kid asked, “caring” for the new kid.
“Don’t worry about that; his test will not be graded, and he will answer what he knows already. Right, Moshi?”
“Right,” Moshi said quietly.
“Yoni!” The teacher screamed in the direction of the murmurs, “I told you not to talk in class. Go pass these tests around.”

Yoni lazily got up, took the tests, and tripping on the chair legs started giving them out. After receiving his, Moshi smiled at Yoni and began reading questions in his mind. He knew few words, which helped him to decipher questions, but he could not answer them. So he whispered questions, again and again, making sure he understood them. He was eventually tired from anxiety. His mind begun wandering in the distance before bouncing back to the test.

Soon a bell started ringing, marking the recess. No one got up from their chairs, but everyone became alive, shifting in their pants.
“Whoever still didn’t return his test, now it’s the time.” Everyone looked around the room, but only Moshi was still leaning over his paper. The floor underneath the teacher’s shoes made a creaking noise. Moshi lifted his eyes and saw an enormous stomach in front of him.

“Your time is up,” the Rebbe said. He picked up Moshi’s test as everyone was looking. Quickly scanning it, he said.
“You a smart one, aren’t you?”
Moshi didn’t understand the question but said, “Yes.”
Everyone wanted to see how good this Russian kid was. So they peeked in and saw a bunch of drawings instead of words.

Photo by Zhuo Cheng you on Unsplash