Steel Ruler by Felicity Edwards

Carlos ran as fast as possible, but he was always late for school. The other pupils were used to the daily ritual. Carlos knocked on the schoolroom door. Mr D’Oliviera called, “Come in.”

Sweating, his schoolbag awry, the boy walked towards his teacher with his head bowed.

“Late as usual. Put your hand out.”

Without a whimper, the boy held out his right hand. Thwack went the steel ruler. “Now get to your seat and try to get here earlier, you lazy boy.”

The school holidays came and went. Wearing his new tee-shirt, Carlos ran to school. Late. He knocked on the door and waited until he heard the barked order, “Come in.”

Mr D’Oliveira shook his head, scowling at the recalcitrant pupil. “Not again!” He lifted the ruler. The boy put his hand out. The ruler made contact.

Cycling to school the following day, Mr D’Oliveira watched as his recalcitrant pupil pushed his severely disabled big brother in a wheelchair, taking care to avoid the potholes and stones in their path. He watched as the young boy took his sibling into the centre for the disabled.

He settled him before grabbing his school bag and running as fast as he could to school.

He knocked and waited for the order to enter. Head bowed, he automatically put out his hand. Mr D’Oliveira took the ruler and tenderly laid it on the boy’s outstretched hand. The class looked on in amazement as their teacher knelt and kissed the boy’s hand, “Forgive me. Now go to your seat.”

Published in Issue #25

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