Give Me a Break

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March 19, 2020 by The Citron Review

by D.H. Valdez 


After makeup and wardrobe, the three of us were led down to the Parent Lounge where filming would take place.

We’d seen our colleagues go through it before. Thirty minutes to create a lesson plan. The winner would receive an apple. The losers would spin the wheel.

The lights from the film set were like broilers, and I began to sweat. A crewmember saw this and threw a towel my way. I wasn’t ready for it and caught it with my face. It draped over me like an octopus attacking its prey. For a second I let it rest, taking refuge within the cloth.

“Filming will commence soon!” The director yelled. “Everyone to their places.”

I’m not sure what the other two teachers had done (though I’d find out once the show aired), but I was there because I had managed to piss off two families with one lesson. The vaunted double whammy! One thought my lesson was too radical, the other not radical enough. More common than you’d think.

The judges sat on couches. An ornithologist, plumber, and accountant. They would assess our performances to determine best teaching.

“3, 2, 1…action!”

“You have thirty minutes to deliver a lesson plan which includes the following components: kinesthetic movement, a courageous conversation, a real-life extension, and a community leader. You may start when the bell rings.”

I couldn’t come up with anything under the pressure. I lost badly. The judges awarded Mr. Watkins the apple.

Ms. Manuel spun first. It was a nervous spin. The clicking of the wheel sounded familiar, like wood cracking from a screw being tightened too much. The sound stopped. The arrow pointed to lawsuit. The host groaned. The judges applauded. Ms. Manuel fainted.

It was my turn.

“What are you hoping for, Mr. Garza?” he asked.

“The egging of my house,” I replied.

“Very good, very good! Spin away.”


“How was your break?” my coworker asked. “Tell me you at least relaxed a little.”

I sighed and told him not really.

He shook his head. “Try and move forward. Lots of year left.”

The wheel had not stopped spinning.


D.H. Valdez teaches Social Studies at his former high school. He holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching from the University of Washington. He and his wife Holly grew up together in Seattle and continue to live in the city. They are avid sports fans and desperately await the return of the Sonics. Valdez has previously been published in Lunch Ticket and Flash Fiction Magazine.


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