This is flash fiction by Richard Weems.
With the Big Test™ just two weeks away, we need to make sure you can answer any multiple choice questions on the three branches of government. So please get out your history textbook, open it to page sixty-four, and let’s read aloud about the three branches of government in the section titled, “The Three Branches of Government.”
Yes, you will need your history textbook.
There are three branches, and we will read all about them in your history textbook.
Your history textbook.
Yes, Wyatt, you may go to your locker.
No, Raziel, you may not. I see your book there on your desk.
I’m being very fair. Wyatt didn’t have his.
Well, let’s see what Wyatt comes back with.
Because when you ask that way, Marina, the answer is always No.
Thank you. When you ask that way, the answer is Yes. You know where I keep the cereal bars.
No? I’ll pick up some blueberry for tomorrow. There should be plenty of fig.
But if that’s all that’s left…
Grab one for Antwan too, please. He didn’t have breakfast either.
You may have an easier time reading, Derek, if you turn your book right-side up.
No, the section on the three branches of government.
The one titled, “The Three Branches of Government.”
No, Shaena, Alana does not have your book. I see it there under your chair.
No? Then go ahead and use Andre’s book. We don’t know yet when he’ll be coming back.
So, who will read aloud the first paragraph about the legislative branch?
Welcome back, Wyatt.
No, your history textbook.
Please hurry. We’ll be reading the first paragraph very soon.
Yes, except it’s on page sixty-four.
Yes, there was. It was a song by the Beatles.
They were a band. Very popular.
Not that old.
A couple are still alive. One of them did a song with Rihanna. Well, he’s in the video.
The one that goes, “Now I’m FourFiveSeconds from wildin’.”
Okay, settle down.
So who will volunteer to read the first paragraph?
Will anyone else volunteer?
No, Raziel, we can’t wait for Wyatt. Class is almost half over already.
Okay, Derek, I guess that’s you. Again, you may want to turn your book over…
Just keep your book upside down, then. Well done.
No, Alana, they don’t quiz you on the branches of government when you apply for SNAP, but there are many other reasons to know about the three branches of government.
Like the Big Test™.
We can worry about what comes after the Big Test™ once you’ve passed it.
Well done Wyatt. But you missed hearing Derek read the first paragraph aloud.
Thank you, Raziel. How about you two sit in the corner so we don’t distract you while you read to him.
No, I’ve never run for office, even though it would be a pay raise.
Let’s just say any elected position would be a pay raise.
No, I don’t get summer’s off. I usually have to find work to pay my rent.
Maybe because I don’t do this job for the money.
Maybe because I enjoy working with you.
Okay, settle down.
Thank you, Henry, but I don’t want to know the kind of work you could get me.
Derek, you did so well with the first paragraph, let’s have you read us the second one. Judicial.
Some of them may be Jewish, but it’s not a requirement. Judicial starts with J-U. It’s right there in your book.
No, not all judges are white.
Okay, maybe a lot of them are.
I doubt they all hate people of color.
I didn’t hear anything about Andre getting sent away for that long. But I hope it wasn’t because the judge was white.
How about we get back to the reading? We don’t have much time left, and I was hoping to get you to answer some of the Strengthen Your Recall prompts at the end of the reading.
Because prompts like these will be on the Big Test™, and I want you to do well on the Big Test™.
Because the people behind the Big Test™ have put a lot of money into it and think it’s very important. If you don’t do well on it, they’ll say you aren’t learning anything and they’ll punish the school or even me.
Because they’re among the branches of government.
No. Sixty. Four.
Richard Weems is the author of three short fiction collections: Anything He Wants (finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize), Stark Raving Blue and From Now On, You’re Back. Recent appearances include North American Review, 3Elements Review, Flash Fiction Magazine and Ginosko Literary Journal. He lives and teaches in New Jersey.