"And then the princess and the poor farm boy rode away on their silver unicorn and lived happily ever after in their castle in the stars after having many beautiful children that grew up to be rich and successful and supported them in their old age. That's the end."

A few members of the class clapped as the girl closed her packet of paper, but most just stayed asleep. Mr. Connor, the teacher, shifted uncomfortably in his seat as she gave him the papers.

"That was very. nice, Megan," he said unsteadily and quickly put the packet down as though he didn't want to touch it while Megan sat back down. He then asked, "Who will go next?"

No one moved. Everyone stared down at the mass-produced carpet in a direct attempt to avoid making even the slightest hint of eye contact with their teacher. They were as silent as possible, barely even breathing. Would someone volunteer? Would the teacher pick someone? Who would it be?

"Colt," said Mr. Connor, causing all of the other students in the class that had yet to present to release a heavy collective sigh of relief, "Why don't you go next?"

Colt stood up slowly, taking the slightly thin packet of paper up with him. All of his classmates stared and someone of them snickered. Colt hated being stared at. He especially hated when they stared at him, but they always did. It was because he was different.

He was standing in front of them, nervousness glistening in his dark, hunter green eyes, but they couldn't see it because his eyes were hidden by a curtain of dark, dark brown hair. His hands quivered as his fingers with the nails colored in black with a permanent marker clenched his papers. He really didn't want to do this.

"You can start whenever you're ready, Colt," Mr. Connor said while writing things down on a sheet of paper then looking up at him.

Colt swallowed thickly then started, "'Mommy,' the boy said, 'do puppies go to Heaven?'"

Everyone snickered at this opening and Colt shifted his weight and cleared his throat quietly before continuing, his voice insecure and hoarse, "'I don't know, Sweetie,' she replied.

"'Mommy,' the boy said again, 'do duckies go to Heaven?' She laughed and gave him the same answer, adding, 'I don't know if any animals go to Heaven, but I hope they do.' 'But everyone is happy there, right Mommy?'

"His mother smiled, 'Yes, sweetie, everyone in Heaven is very happy.'

"They heard the front door open and slam shut. Both tensed up and stopped moving.

"'Daddy's home,' his mother said quietly, sadly, 'go draw your bath, honey. Mommy will change into her swimming suit and join you in a few minutes, ok?' She was messing with a machine that the boy wouldn't learn until later was called a camcorder. All he knew was that Daddy had told him to never touch it.

"He ran down the hall and went into the bathroom. He turned on the warm water valve, proud of himself because his mother trusted him enough to let him do it by himself.

"'YOU STUPID WORTHLESS WENCH!!" Colt shouted, causing the class to wake up and stare at him with shocked expressions.

"The boy heard his father yelling followed by the sound of skin colliding with skin. His daddy always yelled and would always hit his Mommy and he didn't understand why. This type of thing never happened when he went to his friends' houses and none of his friends were allowed to come over to his.

"'You're so pathetic!! You want to kill yourself, to get away from me forever, but you don't because you want to protect that sad excuse of a son of yours!'

"The boy heard him hit her again, followed by the sound of his mother crying out in pain while his father kicked her, beat her. The boy hated this, when his father would hurt his mother. He had no right to do that. She was so beautiful, inside and out, and he was beating that beauty out of her. It always happened when he would come home smelly funny and acting stupid. Why did he always do this?

"The boy sat next to the tub and pulled his knees up to his chest and hugged them to his chest. The sounds of his Daddy hurting his Mommy continued as he tried not to cry because Mommy told him not to cry. If he cried then she would cry and they'd both be crying and nothing good would ever happen so he shouldn't cry. The memory of her saying these words offered him little comfort.

"'Stupid little whore,' his father said, his voice loud and words slurred, 'This would all be over if you just killed yourself, but you're too pathetic for that aren't you? Get out of my sight. You make me sick.'

"He heard his father leave and smiled, running out to help his mother.

"'Baby boy, I need you to do something for Mommy. Can I trust you?' The boy nodded vigorously and she pulled something out of the machine and gave it to him. It looked like a movie like Bambi or something. 'Hide it, sweetie. Hide it and make sure Daddy never ever finds. One day Daddy might hurt Mommy so bad that she could go to sleep and never wake up again. What you need to do is tell the police men that Daddy did bad things and you'll go to court. You know court, right? Like on TV,' the boy nodded in response, 'there will be 2 sides. One side is the bad side. They're going to say that Daddy never did anything wrong and shouldn't be punished. There's also the right side and they'll say that Daddy should be punished for doing bad things. Give the tape to the side. Got all of that, Baby boy?'

"The boy nodded once again and ran off to hide the tape at the very bottom of his toy chest. He then went to the bathroom where his mother was wearing her swimsuit and sitting in the warm bath water. The boy quickly stripped and joined her, playing with rubber ducks and plastic submarines while she washed his hair.

"'Mommy?' he asked as she took as small bowl, filled it with water, tipped his head back and used it to wash out the shampoo. 'Yes?' 'Do people go to Heaven?'

"She smiled, 'yes, they do, honey.'

"'Do they go even if another person kills them?"

"Her smile faltered and grew dimmer, 'Yes, they do.'

"Mommy won't kill herself because of me, thought the boy, standing up and turning to face his mother, so I'll do it for her.

"'I love you, Mommy,' said the boy, and he grabbed her neck and forced her face under the water. She struggled, but was so weak from her prior beating that she wasn't able to stop him. He squeezed her neck so hard that his chubby knuckles grew white and his hands hurt. She went limp and blood exited her nose, eyes, ears, and mouth. It tainted the water and coated his skin. He tried to rub it away, but it just stayed on his skin. He couldn't get it off. It wouldn't come off.

"He got out of the tub and hurried to the kitchen where he climbed up onto the counter and picked up the phone, dialing 9-1-1.

"'Nine one one emergency rescue,' said the woman on the other end.

"The boy swallowed and whispered, 'I killed my Mommy.'

"'Excuse me?'

"'My Mommy, she's in the bathtub dead. I killed her.'

"He gave the woman his telephone number and address and she sent over a large group of police men. They took his mommy's body away in a large bag, got him dressed and something to eat then took him to a group home. He went to court and his father was sent to prison for ten years. He went from foster home to foster home as well as from psychologist to psychologist. None could 'fix' him. He was never happy and was constantly judged by those around him. They had no right to judge him. What made them believe they knew him? They had no idea how his mind worked or why he did the things he did. Their hands were clean."

Everyone stared at Colt as he closed his packet. He shifted his weight between his feet and bit his black fingernails while waiting for someone, anyone to break the silence. He was saved by the bell and everyone grabbed their bags and hurried out of the classroom while Colt hesitantly walked over to the teacher.

"I don't have to write a different story, do I?" he asked quietly, "Cheri said you might want me to write a different one because it's not really school appropriate."

Mr. Connor walked over and closed the door then took the packet from Colt, giving him the chance to shove his books into his bag.

"Actually, Colt," said Mr. Connor, "I thought your story was very good. It was one of the better ones I've gotten in the history of the assignment. You have real talent."

Colt looked up and Mr. Connor put a hand on his shoulder, "You could really develop that talent if you wanted to. Maybe if we had some. private tutor sessions I could. teach you some extra things."

Nodding dumbly, Colt brushed his hand away and hurried out of the room.