Hamlet & the High School Dance

“To be or not to be? That is the question.” The words echoed through the trees and drowned themselves in the bubble of the creek.

“Whether it be nobler in the mind….” The young orator set down his book and looked around, soaking in the beauty of the small clearing. He sighed, then picked up his book again. “Whether it be nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune…”

It was no use; he just couldn’t concentrate. Art pulled his jackknife out of his overalls pocket and opened it. Flipping the knife in the air, he deftly caught it and carved a heart in a sapling growing near the log he was sitting on.

Who cared about Hamlet, Prince of Denmark? Would she or wouldn’t she, that was the real question – the only pertinent question in his life at this moment. If he couldn’t memorize Hamlet’s soliloquy and got a poor mark in Literature because of it, that would be just too bad. But if Jean wouldn’t let him take her to the dance, he’d be wretched.

And if she was escorted by Harold Adams, THAT would be a tragedy.

He scowled at the injustice of life. Why did he have to be born into a hard-scrabble family while Harold was wrapped in silver blankets from his first squalling appearance? And now Harold’s dad had bought him a brand-new buggy so he was really riding high.

Art’s frown deepened as he pictured Harold escorting his Jeannie to the buggy, lifting her up into it. He envisioned them driving through town; Harold would make a big show of it, too. Would Jean like that? Would an offering of wealth turn her pretty little head?

“Does she care for me or doesn’t she, that is the question?” he demanded of a floating frog. It dived into the creek. Only a small turtle, sunning himself on a rock, heard the young lover’s frustrated sigh.


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