hy were you writing a list earlier?” whispered Henry.
Language Arts class was just about to start. It was a special class offered to the sixth graders, focusing on Myths and Legends.
“I’m trying to solve a puzzle, and I needed to make a list to help me.” Alex leaned back in his chair and folded his arms.
The two sat next to each other in Mr. Humblewick’s class. There were no desks in the room, as he liked to have the students sit in a large circle as he taught.
“See? That’s weird.”
“It’s not weird.”
“Okay then, what’s the puzzle?” asked Henry.
Mr. Humblewick liked to sit in the middle of the room in a chair. He always sat on it backwards when he spoke to the class. It was as if he thought it made him seem cool and able to connect more with the students. In a way, it sort of worked.
“A puzzle that I can’t solve,” Alex mumbled.
Henry rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Coo-coo.”
Mr. Humblewick picked up his rain-stick and turned it upside down. The calming sounds of the little seeds dancing their way down the long stick always silenced the class. It was different, but kinda cool.
“Class, I have a question for you.” He stood up and walked around the center of the room. “What is a legend?
He undid his sports jacket and rolled up his sleeves.
“Think about that for a moment, and let me ask you this,” he continued. His tall gangly body hovered over the students. “What do you think is an urban legend?”
The students quickly threw their hands up in the air. They had all heard about urban legends and shared many during camp outs and sleepovers. The class began sharing stories about strange events and odd characters, while Mr. Humblewick sat back in his chair and listened. Intrigued, and hoping to get his mind off of Kaylee Cooper, Alex decided he wanted to contribute. He raised his hand and waited for his turn to share.
“Yes, Alex Thomas?”
“An urban legend is a cool story that might or might not be true.”
Mr. Humblewick nodded. He scooted his chair toward Alex.
“Okay, good. I like to think of it as a cautionary tale. Now, can you give us an example of one?”
Alex thought for a moment. “Sure. I heard one not too long ago that apparently happened to someone, but I forget who. I think my brother heard it from a kid at camp.”
The class snickered.
“Carry on,” urged Mr. Humblewick.
“Well,” continued Alex, “the story goes that an older lady was taking a walk late one night along Screaming Ridge Road. She was looking for her cat, I think. Not looking where she was going, she tripped and slipped over the edge of some crazy-steep cliff. I guess she was able to think real fast and grab onto a branch, or something. The thing is, there was no one around, so when she cried out for help no one heard her. Word is that she hung onto that branch for like three days before finally falling to her death. People say if you walk along Screaming Ridge Road, you can still hear her cries for help. And, that is why they named the road, ‘Screaming Ridge’.”
“We’ve heard that one before,” moaned a boy named Rudy Jerqson.
Mr. Humblewick stood up and looked around the room. Shaking his head, he turned to Alex. “Did that little old lady really take a walk all by herself in the middle of the night?”
“I guess not.”
“That’s right,” Mr. Humblewick replied. “Did she really trip and slip over the edge of a cliff?”
“Did this little old lady actually hang from a branch for three whole days?”
“Did the woman really fall thirty feet to her death?”
Mr. Humblewick turned around and walked back to the front of the class.
“Ahh, a local legend, I love it. However, did you notice how Alex had to rely on a so-called trustworthy source, which was someone his brother might have known? That is the first clue that it is an urban legend.” Mr. Humblewick licked his top row of teeth and swallowed. “Secondly, the story sounds like it could be real. In fact, it all sounds plausible, doesn’t it class?”
The students nodded.
“But, let me ask you one final question. Do you really think people can hear an actual person screaming when you walk along Screaming Ridge Road?” Mr. Humblewick threw his hands up in the air.
“No!” the students answered in unison.
“Yes,” replied a tiny voice from the opposite side of the classroom.
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