Creepy Flaming Hot Cheetos Teacher

It began with something like this:

My face was buried into my cell phone as I turned the corner and headed into the classroom. My friend, Snow, stood there, a startled look frozen in her eyes. That’s when I saw him. Our substitute teacher, Mr. Wolfe, standing behind his desk and sipping on his coffee. His lips were parted as he raised his mug. It’s at that moment that I saw what had frozen Snow. There were two fangs peeking out from his upper teeth. He looked at me and said in a creepy sort of way, “Welcome to my class.” It sent goosebumps cascading down my arms.

That was the beginning of a writing assignment that I gave them. The 60 eighth-graders were to write the rest of the story. Word range: 400-800. No profanity, drugs, alcohol, or anything that would shock the socks off their parents.

The backstory of the story: I had suddenly been asked to help the middle school through a transition situation. The language arts classes had been studying short stories and story plot lines and I needed an assignment that was still connected to the topic, but could help the students move on. Quite honestly, I needed something that would give me a couple of days to figure out the road ahead, while keeping them engaged in the hour-long class period.

Most of them surged ahead, typing furiously on their laptops as if they were writing Stephen King novels. One girl emailed me on the evening of the first days and said, “Mr. Wolfe, I’m at 2,000 words. Is that okay?” Usually, students are much more likely to say, “I’m at 350 words. If that enough!” I responded to this young lady that it was fine as long as it kept me interested and, more importantly, followed the short story flow chart of “problem, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion”.

As I’ve perused some off the submissions, I have found myself turned into a werewolf, a vampire, a creepy, and (my favorite) “The Creepy Flaming Hot Cheetos Teacher”. I have met my demise multiple times, which I gave them permission to do. I only asked that they not bring me to a sudden, uneventful end simply because it was time for lunch.

It has greatly helped in the easing of the week’s uneasiness. They are a group of diverse personalities, some full of themselves and others overflowing with self-doubt; some edging toward the cliff of bad decisions and others wise beyond their years; some academically-motivated and others more spellbound by the charisma of their friends.

And so now that many of them have killed me off in print, I’m being resurrected to walk with them for the rest of the year’s journey, minus the Flaming Hot Cheetos.

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