Appearances Can Be Deceiving


Large cotton ball like clouds glide in steady progression across a bright blue sky. Most are white and pillowy. Some are large and gray, threatening to drop their moisture, but maintain their silent resolve to march on, not interrupting the joyous sounds of children playing.

The bright warm sun peaks through the spaces between the fluffy soldiers. The crisp breeze is steadily pushing the clouds along their silent march. Pine treetops sway in the steady breeze as if waving to the participants in the parade.

It is by all accounts a beautiful day. A kind of day when you think nothing can go wrong. A kind of day that makes you vulnerable to sudden disappointment.

Their teacher is sulking in the corner of the playground. This is not the career he truly wanted, enjoyed, but this school was supposed to be better than his old school. It is a truly magnificent school, but Mr. Branfield is too bitter and jaded by life experiences of late to be able to fully appreciate the heaven this school was compared to his first place of employment.

David Branfield had only been at Westview Elementary School, the most prestigious private school in town, for three years. He had a very successful career as a salesman for a paper goods manufacturer and turned to teaching ten years ago when his wife of fifteen years left him and their two children. Sally and George were both school age at the time and David needed a new job that would be more family friendly than the traveling salesman career he had so nicely carved for himself. A neighbor friend suggested teaching.

Mr. Branfield was an average teacher at best. He taught the lessons stoically to his fifth graders everyday. No one dared to make a sound in his classroom. He never joked with his students, never even smiled in their presence. Being one of only two fifth grade teachers, students coming up had a fifty-fifty chance of being in “The Dungeon” as his classroom had come to be called by most.

The gorgeous scene of children playing happily in such beautiful weather is being taken in by Ms. Peller, the Westview Elementary principal. It is the allotted time in their academically busy schedule for all fourth and fifth grade students to have recess. All of the fourth and fifth grade teachers are standing around in various locations around the playground dutifully keeping watch over the children as they play and pleasantly engaging with the students that randomly run up to them. All, that is, except one: Mr. Branfield.

Susan Peller was a little reluctant to hire David when he came for the interview. He had the best test scores of all the fifth grade teachers at Oakdale Elementary, one of the top five public schools in the county. Mr. Sanders, his previous principal highly recommended him, so she thought she was getting an exceptional teacher. He didn’t smile very much during the interview, but David was very polite and courteous.

After two school years Susan realized David was just not working out. He did not hurt any of the students, his lessons and files were impeccably kept, and he was punctual everyday. The trouble was that the parents didn’t take to him. Being a private school, they depended on student enrollment to remain open. Over the past two years enrollment in the upper grades started dropping off as parents realized their child’s potential for being in Mr. Branfield’s class.

It was a very tough decision to make, but one that had to be made for the good of the school. She knew David was struggling with keeping his children in college, but what choice did she have. If enrollment dropped any further she’d have to let more than one teacher go.

Susan sighs as she watches David pull out his cell phone and reply to a text message, still sitting on the bench on the far corner of the playground. She turns on her heel and goes back inside.

David looks up from his phone and sees Susan sauntering back into the school, back to her comfy cozy job behind a desk making more than he will ever make as a teacher. He gets up suddenly, resolute in his decision and marches into the school.

He must first stop at his classroom to retrieve it out of his closet. With his wing of the school outside no one would know what happened until it was too late. In his fastest pace he marches with tunnel vision to Ms. Peller’s office, securely holding his prized possession behind his back.

It must be done. There’s no other way. But she will join me! David is nodding his agreement as he marches past the secretary to the small office in the back of the schools main office.

Without knocking, David barges in on Susan catching her totally by surprise from behind her desk as he swings the sawed off shot gun from behind his back.

There wasn’t even enough time for her to ask him why his aim was so true and his trigger finger so quick. There wasn’t enough time for the office staff to register and respond to the first gun shot when they heard the second.

The secretary gasps in horror at the site before her. Her boss fell back and slumped in her chair as the projectile pierced her forehead. Eyes still wide open in shock. The only male teacher at their school laid on the floor in front of her desk, the shot gun still in his mouth while his blood trailed in a thick pool behind his head.

Arriving on the scene thirty minutes later, the head investigator noticed the killer had his cell phone still in his hand, still open to his email. The message was short and read, “Yes, the insurance would certainly cover them through graduation.”



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TheOthers1
    Mar 06, 2012 @ 20:52:35

    Brilliant story. Well written and interesting


    • makergoddess
      Mar 07, 2012 @ 05:34:22

      Thanks CC!

      The need to write it hit last night and I just poured it out. I didn’t even take the time to edit it. A decision I may regret.

      I was trying for suspense. I’d never written that before. Hubby said it wasn’t all that suspenseful to him because he knew a local news story sparked my short story.


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