How Do You Break a Pencil in Three?


I tell him to type his article and he says, "I'm an American."

Well, Colby, honey, nobody said you weren't—now type your article.

Allow back up a step and give you the lay of the land. I, Erika Jung, am the editor of Turbo Times, a high school paper with a circulation of thirty and staff of five. Colby, as you might have already guessed, is one of my underlings, one that had yet to type his article.

The idea behind a bimonthly newspaper is to publish a paper every two weeks. We just distributed February's paper day before yesterday! Now April's next week and I want to finish the school year properly! But thanks to that idiot, that goal may never be achieved!

To top it off, Mr. Albert's yelling at us and posing questions like, "How am I supposed to give you a grade if you don't give me a paper?"

You're breaking my little heart, Albert; I thought we had something special!

Well, I wasn't going to fall on account of Colby's inherent stupidity. He had the frickin' article in his notebook, he just needed to type the damn thing up! I didn't think that was too much to ask.

I took a deep breath and tried to be very patient, "Okay, now why don't you type your article?"

"I'll do it in my free time."

Read: my mommy's going to type it for me. Did I mention what a mama's boy Colby is? It's depressing, really. Last semester in Physical Ed. he got brained with a softball (he fell to ground—one of the funniest fucking thing I've seen—with only a little scratch where the seam of the ball hit) and his mother took him out of school to go to the doctor. Anyway…

"But why do it in your free time when you could be doing in class?"

"I need to check my spelling."

"You know, there's this thing on Word called 'Spell Check'. When you're typing and you misspell a word, a little red line pops up beneath it and you right click it to correct it!"

He had it coming! I wasn't bitchy or anything when I said it. Just a touch condescending.

For the next two minutes, the Barney Rubble look-alike sat hunched over his notebook and started scribbling. I stuck to my guns and leaned over to see what he was doing.

Mind your owen busyensy.

It took me a minute to figure out the last word: business. Before I could think better of it, I chortled "Oh my god, you really can't spell!"

"I have dyslexia!"

No shit.

"It's okay. You still have to type your article."

Really, my own brother's autistic and lots of my relatives have dyslexia. It's fine. Just try and we'll go from there. But something tells me that Mama didn't let Colby do even that. Sad. Now I wish I could say Colby finally got it through his thick head to open Word and start punching the keyboard but that would cut out the gory details that made you read this in the first place!

He opened Internet Explorer, went to Google and started typing in the name of a new video game on which he was doing his article. His mouse wavered over a YouTube link but he ended up clicking on another link only to run into the school's site-blocker.

"You need to type your article."


To both my and Colby's surprise, Lynn (the only other girl on the staff) spoke up, "Colby, we do what she tells us to do and so should you."

That didn't shut him up, I'm sad to say. He just let out a sigh and I looked him in the eyes. After a minute he looked back up at me and asked, "How old are you?"


"You're not an adult."


"Therefore you can't tell me to what to do."

Can too, buster. I am the editor and you are my peon. Well, not peon, but you have to do what I tell you to because Mr. Albert made me the editor. In case you didn't put two and two together, Colby; that means to defy my perfectly reasonable order is to defy Albert's. But let's not tattle. Time for some good old-fashioned peer pressure.

"Let's be democratic. How many people think I should get Albert, raise your hand now."

Surprisingly, the vote was unanimously in favor. Corey said some shit about wanting him to hear how rude I was being.

We passed rude a long time ago, pal. I shrugged and went catty corny down the hall to Mr. Albert's classroom. I stopped in front of the trashcan by his desk and said, "I'm going to kill Colby."


"He's being terribly difficult."

The marketing class in the back started laughing and one kid said something about how fucking funny it was how politely I spoke. Whatever. I had bigger fish to fry. I left with Albert at my heels.

Back at the ranch. Lynn, Colby and Bill, who never spoke much, sat in front of their computers working or doing a half-decent job of pretending. When Albert walked in the door nobody was terribly surprised but, like rubberneckers to a bad car accident, they were paying attention to the tiff.

"I told you to type your article." Albert sighed and turned to ask the rest of us what we were doing.

I told him I finished and after hassling Lynn and Bill, Albert went back to his classroom. We were quiet for a while, only the sound of Colby's aggravated breathing could be heard over the whirr of our computers. Not two minutes later, Colby pushed away from his desk and stomped out the door.

When he was out of earshot, Bill said, "He called you a bitch."

"Really?" I laughed, why did I see that coming?

"And an asshole and he broke his pencil…in three. How do you do that?"

"Quite simply, you snap your pencil not quite into half but close enough. And then you snap the longer half into two."

Bill nodded and did what any modern teenage boy would do: "Who's up for some preemptive betting?"

All in…"When do you think Colby will move out of his mother's house? I say fifty two."

"Sixty, at least." I shot.

"The day he dies." Lynn snickered and we honestly rolled on the floor laughing our asses off.

Only when our cheeks stopped hurting and air once again filled out guts did Bill pause to say, "You know, I feel bad about talking behind his back."

Now I was impressed by Lynn's answer, "Don't, it's true."

Class ended and I packed up. When I passed through the lobby, I saw Colby standing by the front office and wearing a grim look on his face. Don't even think for a second that I felt bad. He was being fucking difficult and had it coming his way. But by the look on his face, his mama was on her way to give me a dozen kinds hells.

I went on to my car and drove home. Like any geek, I sat down in front of my computer and started writing down my day. The back door slammed downstairs and I heard a purse land on the kitchen counter, "MOMMA?"


"Momma, don't be surprised if Ms. Johnson calls you tomorrow."

"What happened?"

"Colby started it."


I sat my darling mother down on the couch and gave her the low-down on the Journalism Skirmish. She bristled at the end when I told her to beware a phone call from my principle.

After a few minutes, she exclaimed, full of indignation on my behalf, "What a pansy!"


The phone call didn't come. A month passed and we heard nothing. Colby stayed out of my way and I went about my business. Only when I went to a meeting with Ms. Johnson to discuss final exam exemptions did the Skirmish resurface.

"It has come to my attention that you have been hurting some of the students' feelings, Erika."


Students? Since when was Colby "students"? I didn't bother the general populace of the Dallas Academy—just my peons…ahem…journalists. Nonetheless, the ugly voice in the back of my head was shrieking in delight, "I knew it! They're all against, Erika!"

"Colby and his mother came to me, very upset about what you said to him."

That was enough for me to open my mouth in protest.

"He said you made fun of him in front of the whole class for his bad spelling."

"He didn't tell you the whole story!"

"Wait, Erika. You're a senior, he's just a freshman. You should be more mature."

Mature…mature…sweet Jesus, if I were any more mature, I would have arthritis and bifocals!

"When do I get away from these idiots?" I sighed.

"Two months maybe three."

Fucking A. That little shit is going to get it.

A/N: I wish I owned Microsoft Word, YouTube, Barney Rubble and Turbo Times. Thank you for reading!