By Eleanor Keith
“You will all be happier once we have overthrown the administration,” I muttered under my breath one morning, glaring at a group of passing classmates in the hall. They all stared at me and whispered to each other as they walked. They are all so woefully ignorant it sickens me. Unfortunately, my fellows do not see me as the strong and mighty hero I know myself to be, nor do they know anything of the Great First Grader Revolution that I am plotting.
I always see them outside on the playground, froclicking, on the government provided play structures, but I must just keep my mouth shut, as they are all revolting tattletales; every one one of them would rat me out in a heartbeat. If I ever were to let my true beliefs be known, well… the school is too powerful. No one can know my secret.
So, alas, I must travel alone, through the halls of this prison we call Elementary School, waiting for my time to strike.
I watched the ignorant classmates walk away down the hall, still whispering to each other, and sighed. Though I hate to admit it, it isn’t easy being the only first grader willing to start war.
I continued down the hall, but suddenly I felt a cold chill run down my spine and a sharp claw clamped down on my shoulder. Fear sat in the pit of my stomach as I slowly turned around to see the great towering menace behind me. I looked up. It was my mortal enemy: Ms. Dictator Francis.
I cleared my throat.
“Ehem. Hello, Ms. Francis,” I said politely, giving my very best ‘I-am-totally-on-board-with-your-suffocating-tyranny,-and-not-at-all-plotting-a-glorious-uprising-against-you’ voice.
“Hello, Brandon,” Dictator said coldly, hand pressing deep into my shoulder. “Care to tell me what exactly you are doing?”
“I…I’m just going to class, ma’am,” I said, and then saluted to show respect. It felt disgusting, but to stay undercover I must blend in with the other children.
“Yes, going to class…but you’re forgetting something,” she said, and pointed a twisted finger at my uniform shirt. “The dress code.”
I looked down at my shirt, and…it was untucked.
“Dictator Francis, I can explain—”
Oh oh no.
* * *
I sat in a chair in the empty office, next to the secretary desk, counting down the minutes until the Principal would open his door and send me off to my execution. The secretary was not currently present, so the office was filled with only sounds of the ticking clock.
I hung my head low, and swung my legs back and forth. I had slipped up; I had let the Dictator know exactly what I thought of her, and now…
I was gonna die a nobody.
The door to the hall opened, and I looked up. It was the secretary, escorting another kid in. My heart skipped a beat– it was a 2nd Grader.
The 2nd Grader scowled at the secretary and took a seat. The secretary walked back out again, muttering about how we’d “better not act up while she’s gone.”
After a moment of silence, the 2nd Grader glanced over at me.
“Whatcha in for?” they asked, leaning back on their seat so far that it was balancing on two legs. This kid was brave.
I stared at the ground.
“I got dress coded… and I called Francis ‘Dictator’,” I confessed, voice shaking slightly. I was nervous– 2nd Graders were powerful, older, and wise; I didn’t want this one to think I was stupid.
The kid snickered, and said “Well, that’s what she is, isn’t she?”
I stayed quiet; could this person be trusted with my secret revolution? I considered for a moment, and then decided to be brave:
“Yes! She is! And she needs to be stopped!”
The kid grinned and said “So whatchu gonna do about it?”
Despite their less than perfect grammar, I knew that this kid was right. It was time to come out of the shadows, and build myself an army!!
“I am going to go down to the cafeteria and become the hero I’ve always been meant to be!!”
“Yes you will!”
I excitedly stood up from my seat, and strode to the door, but as I did, the 2nd Grader’s face changed.
“Wait! What are you doing?” they exclaimed, as my hand hovered over the handle.
“…Going to get my army?” I replied, confused; had I misinterpreted their inspirational pep talk?
“Wha– you can’t just walk out into the hall during class time, are you kidding?? They’d snatch you up in a second!”
A dramatic pause.
“The hall monitors.”
“Oh…well, I guess I’ll just have to sneak past them,” I said, going into stealth mode. Rebel ninja revolutionary? Would I finally fulfill my calling in life??
“Are you crazy? You can’t sneak past the hall monitors–” they exclaimed, and leaned back farther on their seat.
“ –-The only way through is using a magical item so rare that almost no one can obtain it, unless they’ve got a nose bleed and are on their way to the nurse; you know, drastic situations. You’d need a hall pass. The secretary probably has one in her desk; she’s important like that. But only a teacher can activate it. They have to sign it.”
I nodded, taking in the new information. “So we can get one from the desk, you say…?”
We exchanged looks.
Before long, me and the 2nd Grader were on our knees, digging through the secretary’s desk drawers for the sacred hall pass. We took turns; one digger, one lookout for any teachers or stray students that may wander in. I was thrilled— at last we were doing something against the system!
After many minutes of digging later, while I was on lookout, I heard the 2nd Grader call out “I found one!”
I hurried over, and looked down at the small pale blue piece of paper in their hands. Then it hit me:
“Wait, don’t we need a teacher to sign it?” I asked.
They thought for a moment.
“Well…I know cursive…” They grinned mischievously.
I was appalled. Forgery?? But I remembered the revolution.
I met their eyes. “Let’s do it.”
We grabbed a pen from the now messy desktop, and the 2nd Grader scribbled out a signature in messy half cursive, half print.
“I don’t know all the letters in cursive, but this should be enough to convince any hall monitor,” they explained.
I nodded. Cursive was hard.
Our heads snapped to the direction of the Principal’s door, which, to our absolute horror, was creaking open!
We dashed under the secretary desk, but as we did, the hall pass slipped out of the 2nd Grader’s hand, and slid across the floor, just out of reach.
“Feces!” the 2nd Grader whispered, panicking.
The principal strode across the room, picked up the pass, and began to look around.
The 2nd Grader turned to me, a look in their eyes I had neer seen before.
“Brandon, on the count of three I am going to snatch the paper from him, and distract him. You have to get the paper, and get out as fast as you can,” they whispered to me, “then you can make it to the cafeteria and stop Francis once and for all.”
A chill ran through my body.
“What? But what about you?? You’ll get in trouble, it’s so obvious we wrecked the desk!”
The principal got closer. We shuffled further under the desk. We were moments away from being caught.
“It’s okay! I’m in here all the time for missing homework anyways. You have to escape, and bring forth the Revolution!” they said, and began to count…
“No! There has to be another way!”
“It’s okay…goodbye, Brandon. Two…THREE!!”
They suddenly leapt out from the desk, snatched the paper from him, threw it at me, and shoved the principal to the ground!
I grabbed the pass, bolted from the desk, and out tore from the room, not looking back.
As I ran down the hall, tears streaming down my face, and I waved my hall pass high in the air; a tribute to the brave soldier that had been lost.
As I reached the cafeteria doors, heartbreak turned to rage; I was ready to start a war.
* * *
BAM! I kicked open the cafeteria doors, and ran into the large lunchroom. Hubbub died down as my classmates noticed the fire in my eyes, as I began to climb onto the center table; I was going to risk it all.
“Hear me, First Grade,” I cried out.
The lunchroom went silent. All eyes were on me.
“You may not know my name now, but I am your hero,” I said, summoning all my courage. “I am Brandon, First Grade Revolutionary, and I will not let this unjust system stand any longer!”
Still silence. After a moment, someone whispered to their neighbor,
“Didn’t that kid get sent to the office?”
Beaver-dam, word travels fast in this school; they have already heard about my infraction!
There were more unsure murmurs, and I looked around helplessly. What was I doing?? But then I remembered my fallen 2nd grader comrade. I had to avenge them.
Taking a deep breath, I prepared for my speech. Unfortunately, I was interrupted by a dark force of evil.
“BRANDON!” the Dictator screamed, as she suddenly entered the room, and saw me on that table.
I glowered. There she was. My nemesis, my adversary, my enemy, the tyrant herself, standing there, right at my rise to power. How fitting. But on that cafeteria table, I towered over her now. I had the power. I knew with my soul that that must have terrified her.
“Brandon!” shouted Dictator Francis again.“Get down from there!”
The table wobbled and creaked beneath me, but I had to be brave in the face of danger, my courage reflected in the first-grade class, watching wide-eyed from below.
“No!” I yelled back, courageous to the end. “You can’t make me!”
A crowd was forming now, other faculty gathering around to see the commotion. They all looked tired and exasperated, probably because they knew they would lose this battle.
I turned back to the class below me, and began my glorious speech.
“Five months I have waited, lurking in the shadows, biding my time until the moment of truth. Dictator Francis is an evil tyrant, who must be stopped in order for us to live the lives we have been deprived. But the oppression does not end with Francis, either! There is a whole system pushing down on us— the school board! They force our decisions, our clothes, our lives. If we don’t rise up now, then who will?! First, they enforce a dress code, what’s next— communism?!”
A few classmates nodded in agreement with that statement. Communism was not popular with this first-grade class.
I continued, “So what do you all say?! We will end this unjust rule of social hierarchy! We will overthrow our oppressors! Viva la revolution!!!”
“Viva la revolution!” the first graders screamed, at last.
“Anarchy! Anarchy! Anarchy! Anarchy!” The First Grade class chanted, all got up from their tables, and began pelting the teachers, and the Dictator, with cafeteria food.
I was stunned for a moment, as my classmates continued to wreak havoc around me. I was so proud, tears cradled the corners of my eyes.
I had done it. I had helped the others to believe.
Everything was chaos as the recess bell rang, and teachers herded children out to the playground. But after nearly everyone had filed out the door, one person remained: Dictator Francis.
She stood next to the door watching me for a moment, covered in victory food stains, taking in what I’d done. Finally, she nodded at me, as if to say “You win for now… but I’ll get you next time.”
Then she slowly turned and walked out the door.
Yes! I did it!
As I stood on that table, I was filled with sweet euphoria– I knew that my ambitions were in reach. I now had an army. And someday, we would overthrow them for good.