A Chalk Marm’s Dream

I’m teaching creative writing again after–it’s been a few years. Dusting off all my old lessons, I came across an interesting piece I’d written as an example for an assignment on allegory and symbolism. I found it entertaining even after all these years, so I thought I’d share:

Once there was a piece of chalk whose goal it was to write on the board; all it wanted to do was teach grammar. Every day, the chalk watched as student after student covertly text-messaged friends using horrible, ungrammatical expressions such as “c u l8r” and demonstrated a cruel disregard for the capitalization of the letter “I.” From its seat on the chalk tray, the piece of chalk watched with disgust as students even began using these expressions on their papers! “You” had been translated to the simple lower-case “u,” and punctuation no longer existed in many students’ minds. One day, the chalk decided to do something about it. It worked up all its might and got ready to slam itself onto the board in a barrage of grammar rules. Unfortunately, just as the chalk elevated itself, in walked a custodian with a fresh, new dry erase board.

“What’s going on?” asked the chalk.

“The principal decided to replace the chalkboards with whiteboards,” answered the custodian.


“These newfangled boards can be used by different colored dry-erase markers in brilliant hues. They can be used to project movies from laptops, and besides, chalk boards are so 1950’s!”

“Colored markers?” cried the chalk. “Laptops and movies? Why, those are just the things that turn the kids’ brains to mush! We don’t need laptops and movies. We just need plain white chalk and grammar. Maybe a little bit of the 1950’s is just what we need around here.”

“Whatever, chalk,” the custodian said, popping his gum. “I’ve got a place to be at.”

In frustration over the situation and the custodian’s use of a preposition at the end of a sentence, the chalk threw itself upon the whiteboard and wrote down every grammar rule in the English language. “That’ll teach them!” the chalk screamed after it was done. In writing so much, the chalk had worn itself down to near nothing, but as long as the chalk had spent its life teaching grammar, the sacrifice would be well worth it. The chalk looked back at its work and, to its horror, learned a very harsh lesson. Old-fashioned white chalk simply won’t leave a mark on newfangled white boards.

As the chalk shrieked in horror, Mrs. Wombat, the math teacher, entered. “Oh finally,” she sighed. “I don’t know how much more I could take that dusty white chalk. I just love dry-erase!”

With that, she picked up the now-tiny piece of chalk and flicked it into the air. It landed inside the classroom’s radiator, where it still sits today. From its prison in the radiator, it can see through the metal slats of the air vent. And from there it watches in nightmarish silence as the students text message each other and think of even more perverse ways of mutilating the English language.

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