The Broiler

(I wrote this in ten minutes with my writing group. I like it!)


My sixth-grade science-teacher Mr. Huffman assigned us a chapter to read about heat and thermodynamics. I, like my classmates, read nothing. The next day Mr. Huffman made us take out pens. “Only pens,” he barked, “and just one piece of paper, put everything else away.” Then he asked, “did you read the chapter? Write it down.”

“Yes,” I lied.

“Next,” said Huffman, “list the three methods of heat transference, and if you can’t, but wrote ‘yes,’ write your parents a letter apologizing for being a liar. Make them sign it and bring it in tomorrow as homework.”

I’d never felt fight-or-flight adrenaline. It broiled me from within. I knew nothing about heat, but couldn’t face my parents as a liar. Sweat slicked my palms and I looked to my friends, who already morosely resigned themselves to writing apology letters. I wouldn’t have it.

My textbook was under my desk. With the toe of my shoe, I opened to the table of contents. Under the Thermodynamics chapter heading the first three subsections were Radiation, Conduction, and Convection . I scribbled those words and stomped the book shut before Mr. Huffman saw.

I pinky promise that’s the only time I’ve cheated in class. On the plus side, on Mr. Huffman’s final exam, I remembered the three methods of heat transference, and I still do.


I’m trying to recall whether Mr. Huffman was all bark and no bite. His barks definitely made me skittish.

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