That Little School House
When the school house bell rang, you could watch the gaggle of kids come in from the miners’ shanties, the farmers’ fields and the factory village. Their parents weren’t allowed to let the kids work alongside them anymore. Laws had been changed and all. The parents weren’t so sure it was a good thing. But at least they were supervised and out from underfoot.
Their parents thought the kids were playing some games and maybe doing some art or crafts to while away the hours. But the priests were teaching them to read and write better than their parents did. Or some of them anyways. Some of the kids were learning how to swing a hammer or screw a screw. Some were learning how to sew leather or clothes. The priests were selling the good stuff a few towns over so their parents never caught wind of the money changing hands. And some were playing games, but those games that kept their bodies fit and taught them how to obey orders.
The kids came home cleaner than they went, which kind of made their parents wonder what was going on. But they figured the priests were fussy and let it go. And the kids obeyed enough that no words left their lips to explain.
And all it took was the bell ringing for the kids to come and go.
There was one child who looked thru the gates, with some confusion. The school had been closed for many years. It wasn’t even safe for the kids nearby to play inside anymore, let along take lessons.
Whenever little Bobby tried to tell his parents what he saw, they smiled, patted his head and admired his imagination. Though they did start to worry when the stories kept on and on. As Bobby got older though, he learned to write the stories down, rather than tell his parents.
When Bobby was a young adult, he went to a college library and looked at the history of the school. There were pictures of the miners’ kids coming in from the mines the first day the laws changed. There were pictures of the farmers’ kids coming in from the fields. And there were pictures of the kids leaving the factories to come to the school. There were pictures of a priest or two ringing the bell of the schoolhouse.
And there were pictures of the kids who were taught to read and write. Most of these kids went on to nearby colleges. Pictures of kids being taught trades they could use later on in life. They found guild memberships for most of these kids. And there were pictures of the kids who played games to learn to listen and follow authority. And they found draft contracts with most of the kids from the school who played the games.
They even found receipts of the things the priests sold a few towns over.
Bobby took all his stories to a publisher and sold them. And left them behind now he knew exactly where they had come from. And it wasn’t his imagination.
Bobby had a son, who started bring home tales from the schoolhouse. Of when the bell rang. So Bobby took him to the library and showed him what the history of the schoolhouse was. And they left the area so little Robbie was never plagued with the visions of the kids. Coming in from the mines, fields and factory village to be taught what they needed to know to get around the new laws.
But at the schoolhouse? The remnants played out their dramas, waiting for another child to come along who would see what history had wrought there, at the little schoolhouse. The bell was rung by a priest till that child came along.