The Test

This week in class we were told to write a short story featuring 5 assigned words: lintel, sparrow, window shade, leaf, and zipper.


The Test

It was a test of manhood. A rite of passage. If Alex failed, he would be forever immortalized as the puny, wiry kid who just didn’t measure up.

Literally. At fourteen years he should have hit five feet by now. Not so. Four feet five inches. The rest of his friends were skyrocketing toward six feet, yet he stayed stuck in the freaking fours, as if growing was something his body considered taboo.

How was he going to make the leap to smack the lintel on the doorway leading out of his middle school? It was a tradition all eighth grade boys carried out on graduation day that signified their right to move on to high school.

He pressed his forehead against the window shade that had been drawn down to block out the blistering June sun. Taxes didn’t quite cover air conditioning and extra heat had been a notorious cause of many a fainting spell. Susie Shaffer had never lived that one down. Not for three years. Had that taken place in this classroom? Yeah, it was because it was during math, and this was the math room. Alex’s eyes shot to the back shelf full of geometry books that looked like they’d just returned from a war zone rather than a year of lessons. Thank the Almighty Alex would never have to endure such torture in this room ever again.

“Ok, eighth graders!” The principal, Mr. Sparrow did not resemble his avian namesake in any way, shape or form being neither a bird, dainty nor graceful. He was, in fact, human, large and loud. He found himself hysterical but his students just thought he was nuts.

“Line up now, everyone! That’s right, out in the hallway here, double lines, very good. This is your big moment, kids! Time to leave middle school behind, so why don’t you make like a tree and leaf? HAHAHA!”

A few kids laughed simply to appease him, but in reality, every student inwardly cringed at the horrible joke. To hide their discomfort, they scrambled to line up in the cinderblock hallway two by two: one line boys, one line girls. They reminded Alex of the two green snakes that had snuck into his home and scared the ever-living out of his mother that one time. The graduates were like those two green snakes ready to slither their way out of the building that had been their home away from home for three entire years.

Alex tugged the zipper of his puke-green, too long graduation gown, releasing his overheating neck as the two lines began plodding outside toward the crowd of camera-happy parents. The doorway was in sight; beyond it high school. Figuratively, of course. What actually lay beyond it was a lawn set up for this historic day in all the eighth graders’ lives complete with folding chairs, a rickety platform, a podium, and the American flag.

This was IT! The final showdown. Lintel vs. Alex. To think, he’d never even known what a lintel was before his best friend informed him of the tradition. Other boys coiled their knees and sprang upward, their hands hitting the lintel with a definitive, triumphant smack on the way down.

It was Alex’s turn. He bent his knees and propelled himself up with all the might, will, and prayers he could muster. Up, up, up, reach, reach, reeeaaach …

His fingers brushed the wood hard enough to bend them back and crack his knuckles, the sound misinterpreted by his classmates as his own triumphant smack.

Copyright Aspiring Novelist. All rights reserved.


About Miss Rosemary

is a recent college graduate from NY hoping to complete her novel of ten years. Stop by her blog, Miss Rosemary's Novel Ideas at or contact her at with comments, questions and suggestions. She'd love to hear from you! View all posts by Miss Rosemary

8 responses to “The Test

  • Lar

    After reading your last I thought I would offer some thoughts. Then, I got stuck in that weird self deprecating loop. What do I have to offer? Just who do I think I am? Well right now, the Count of Monte Crisco, but that’s a personal problem I will deal with later. Anyway I was wondering if you might like some editing help and then if you don’t ban me then you might want to take on a little editing of mine. Just some thinking which usually gets me in trouble after only one cuppa. Let me know.

    • Aspiring Novelist

      I believe editing of any kind from anyone is always helpful. Even if you as the author only take it and say “this person is NUTS” you’re at least being open to someone else’s opinion and at bare minimum know how you DON’T want to write.
      I would love to help you edit! Besides having my own work published, my goal after graduation is to be an editor! … only thing is I barely have the time right now 😦 If you send me stuff, I do promise I will look at it, it just may take me a while. And vice versa with my work if I can squeeze in an extra email or two 🙂

  • Lar

    Crap what I just wrote needs editing I give up.

  • junebugger

    @Lar: Ooooh I love the Count of Monte Cristo.

    ….Sorry for the Randomness.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this short story! I admire that you were able to spin such a tale up, inspired by buts a few words. It just goes to show how words are MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD. Ehm. Hmm. A bit out of context. But ANYWAY! Fabulous. I hope to read more of your work one day

    • Aspiring Novelist

      Hopefully some day we will both be reading each other’s published material (you are on the fast track though and I am not there yet. I’m still rooting for you and Agent #1!!!). I’m still working on finding the right agent to submit my manuscript … and that manuscript needs a TON of work. Sigh. Such is the life of a writer. Never satisfied with oneself.

  • synclarity

    OK I will pull The Test and edit it and you pull Crabby Loews from my blog and we will cross edit when and if we have time. I love that you try to write in the boy kids words and life. I admit to having a very difficult time writing especially woman voice. Always comes across as a guy writing woman words. Yours pretty darn right on.

  • G

    im pretty sure you won’t be able to title it sixth sense for copywrite reasons

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