All of the children at Emerson Elementary were outside playing with their friends during recess one Friday, but there was one child by himself, an eight year old boy with jet black hair and a prominent forehead named Duncan. He hated that the other children didn't like him much as a result of his twin brothers and their notorious reputation of occasionally bullying and playing pranks on other kids. After all, unlike his brothers, Duncan never bullied other kids or played pranks on them, he just picked up anything they lost and kept it for himself instead of taking it to the lost and found.

Duncan was climbing on one of the smaller monkey bars by himself when suddenly he noticed the new girl in his class named Carley going in another direction and he decided to get the girl's attention. He ran in front of her and said proudly, "Look at what I can do Carley,' then Duncan tried doing a handstand but fell down. He got up quickly then he asked her, "Wanna hang out together," but instead the little girl gave him a scornful look then commented quite rudely, "Yuk, go away, you have one eyebrow. It looks like a big ugly worm."

Suddenly another girl remarked, "Yeah worm face, nobody wants to play with you, you're ugly," in an unpleasant tone. The owner of that voice, Brenda and a red-haired boy with freckles named Alvin who were in their class approached them. Alvin sneered at Duncan "Hey Dorkanstein, get lost." Alvin was one year older than the other kids in his class because he had to repeat a grade. Carley then gave the obnoxious boy a puzzled look then asked him, "Dorkanstein?" He replied nastily, "Because his big head is kinda shaped like Frankenstein's." Ever since Duncan's brothers went to another school two weeks before, Alvin made it his mission to occasionally torment Duncan.

Alvin sneered, "Go away worm face," then shoved Duncan roughly on his left shoulder, making him fall on the ground on his butt. Duncan got up then began scrunching up his face because he was about to cry. "Hey look at Dorkanstein, he's gonna cry, what a sissy," Alvin mocked then Carley and Brenda began laughing at him. Duncan turned away from the cruel kids and ran away behind the cafeteria and sat down with his back against the cafeteria wall; his knees up to his chest. He began sobbing quietly. After four minutes he stopped crying and whispered sadly, "Why doesn't anyone like me?" He sniffled then wiped away his tears.

Duncan sat there for another minute feeling sorry for himself when the bell that ended recess rang. Suddenly he was afraid to go back to class. He thought, "I'm not going back; I don't want them calling me a crybaby." Then he glanced at a tree a few feet away. Suddenly he wanted to climb it even though it was against the rules of the school. Duncan waited until all the kids were inside. As he walked to the tree he said, "I'm gonna stay up there til schools over. Nobody is gonna miss me anyway." He stopped when he reached a branch that was wide enough then sat down. After listening to the silence for one minute, Duncan began to feel better because climbing trees was something he enjoyed doing just like drawing and coloring.

Four minutes later, his teacher, Ms. Valli, noticed that he wasn't in his seat and thought, "He's probably using the bathroom," but three more minutes passed and she became worried and thought, "I wonder if he's in the nurse's office." She addressed her students, "Kids, since Duncan hasn't returned to class I'm going to find him, behave yourselves while I'm gone." A girl named Emily spoke, "Miss, I saw him running somewhere before the bell rang." She thought worriedly, "Oh my god, I hope he isn't hurt or was taken by a stranger." She decided to ask the janitor to help her find Duncan. "I'll be back soon," she told the kids then left hastily. "Probably ran home crying to his mommy," Alvin whispered to Brenda nastily. The janitor drove her all over the school grounds in a golf cart but couldn't find Duncan anywhere. They didn't know at that moment he was asleep in the tree.

After the search ended Ms. Valli headed straight to the Principals office and told her that Duncan didn't return to class. "You mean Duncan Scarpelli," Ms. Walker, the principal asked her. Ms. Valli said yes and told her that she and the janitor searched all over the school grounds. "He could have been taken by someone," she added, "I'll call the police and his parents," Ms. Walker said concerned. After the calls were made both women went outside to wait for the police that included his parents. Ms. Walker had told them not to use their sirens to avoid disrupting the school. At this moment Duncan woke up. Four minutes later two police cars and his parents arrived. Ms. Valli told them she tried finding him before calling them. "Where could he be," Duncan's mom fretted.

Three minutes later Duncan was getting bored of just sitting in the tree. "I wonder if school's over," he thought and decided to go home. As he walked away from the tree, suddenly a police officer appeared. The little boy gasped and the male officer asked him, "Are you Duncan?" The boy nodded. "I'm Officer Lewis, we've been looking for you, and your parents are here," the policeman continued. "Oh no, I'm in trouble," the boy thought worriedly, knowing how his parents especially his father would react. As they reached the front of the school, Officer Lewis then called out to his parents, "I found your son." and they looked around. "Thank goodness," his mother said with great relief. When Duncan walked up to them, his mom hugged him tightly.

After the hug, she asked her son, "Did you get hurt," then she started checking Duncan for any injuries. When she was satisfied she asked him, "Where were you all this time?" Duncan knew he had no choice but to admit where he was. Then Ms. Walker spoke, "Duncan you know that climbing trees are against the rules," then added, "But I won't punish you this time." His dad thought angrily, "But I will," then he told the officers that they could leave, then thanked the two women for calling them.

"I'll take him home," his mother said. Ms. Walker and Ms. Valli said their goodbyes and went inside. His mother asked Duncan why he climbed the tree. He broke down and explained what happened to his parents, "Some kids were making fun of my unibrow and calling me Dorkanstein and worm face, then a boy pushed me down, so I ran away because I didn't want to cry in front of them. I was afraid to go back to class cause I didn't want them calling me a crybaby so I decided to stay outside til school was over," he concluded then Duncan began crying softly.

"I'm so sorry dear," she comforted Duncan. After the boy dried his tears, his father told him sternly, "That doesn't excuse the fact you climbed the tree which is against the school rules, you're still getting punished for that and for wasting those officers time and our time." His mom remarked, "Please Lance, don't punish him for this, he got upset about what those kids said to him." His dad sighed, "Okay, I'll let this one go," he said, looked at Duncan and said, "But don't you climb any trees at school again." He replied, "Yes daddy." His mother said, "Come on Duncan, I'll take you home." Her husband, who had to return to his station, said he would see them later.

After Duncan got into the back seat of his mothers car, she drove away. Three minutes later she remembered something. "Oh I forgot that Derek goes straight to work after school today. I'll call the office and tell them I have to stay with you." Duncan was very happy to hear that. Once they reached inside the house, his mother told him, "You can rest in your room for a while. I'm going to call the office and then I'll fix you something to eat." He went upstairs and laid on his bed.

Suddenly he began remembering Brenda's nasty words in his mind, "Nobody wants to play with you; you're ugly," then Alvin's words, "Hey look at Dorkanstein, he's gonna cry, what a sissy." To block out those bad memories Duncan rose from his bed and found some crayons and a coloring book then started coloring. Then fifteen minutes later his mother knocked on the bedroom door and said his meal was ready. Duncan washed his hands in the kitchen sink then sat down at the kitchen table. "Do you want orange or cherry soda?" his mom asked him. "Cherry, please," he answered. After she returned with the drink he began eating.

Duncan stopped eating for a moment then asked his mom, "Ma, do you think I'm ugly?" Shocked that he would ask a question like that she answered, "Of course not. You look like your father." He replied, "You're a parent, you have to say that." Duncan's mother asked him, "Is this because of those kids teasing you." He replied yes. "Honey, they don't know any better, the next time they imply you're ugly tell them that your family loves you the way you are." Duncan felt only a little comfort by her words and still looked unhappy. "You can watch some TV after you eat," she told him.

Suddenly she began feeling sorry for her son. Then an idea flashed into her mind and she got up from the table. She walked into the master bedroom then dialed her husband's office number. "Hello Karen," he answered. She explained to him that Duncan asked her if he was ugly and looking unconvinced when she said no. "Could you think of doing something nice for him just to cheer him up," she concluded. Lance thought for a moment then replied, "What is his favorite ice cream again?" Lance wrote down the information on a page of his notepad.

After hanging up the phone Karen made another call to the babysitter telling her not to come that afternoon then returned to the kitchen and found Duncan gone. She placed his dirty dishes in the dishwasher then went into the living room where he was watching an animated movie on TV. Karen sat beside him on the sofa and watched with him until the movie ended. After Duncan turned the channel to watch some of his favorite cartoons, she left him to prepare dinner.

Later as Duncan and his twin brothers sat down for dinner in the dining room, they heard the front door open. Their father approached them carrying a bag containing a box of chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks. "Daddy I thought you were working late," remarked Jason, the oldest twin. "I decided to come home a little early," their dad explained, then addressed Duncan, "I have a present for you." The boys were quite astonished as their father usually never gave them surprises. Duncan took the bag and looked inside. He read the label and thanked his father with a smile. His father took the bag and said that they all could have some after dinner.

It was now eighty-thirty in the evening, the boy's bedtime. While the twins lay in their bunk beds and Duncan on his single bed, their parents entered their bedroom to wish them goodnight. After kissing them their mother left. Lance sat on the edge of Duncan's bed. "Son what is the name of the boy who pushed you," his father asked him. "Dad you can't expect him to be a tattletale," Jason protested from his lower bunk. "Yeah, you'll only make it worse for him," Richard added. "Boys, I'm a police officer, I can make sure that boy doesn't bother Duncan again," Lance reassured his sons, then asked Duncan again for the boy's name.

Duncan hesitated for a moment then responded, "Alvin Burkett." Lance replied, "Thanks, I'm going to speak to Principal Walker….," then remembered something. "Hold on there's an Officer Burkett at my station. I'll ask him tomorrow if Alvin's his son and if so I'll tell him about the incident." Duncan was relieved and told his father thanks. "No problem son," his dad said then ruffled Duncan's hair." Goodnight boys," he said then left. After their father closed the door, Jason whispered to Duncan, "You sure are lucky that mom or dad didn't punish you." Minutes later the boys were asleep. The next morning their mother gave them money to spend at the movies that afternoon.

Saturday afternoon….

"Please daddy, you can't do this to me," Alvin protested as his father led him towards one of the cells at the station his father and Duncan's dad worked, "I promise I'll leave Duncan alone forever." His father said with a serious look on his face, "You're going to learn where you might end up if you continue to use physical violence on others." Officer Burkett opened the nearest empty cell and pushed his son inside. "But you already took away my TV and video games for two weeks," Alvin continued whining, "Isn't that enough." His dad responded, "You're lucky I didn't sell them. We need the money. I'll release you in two hours," then walked away.

Monday morning…

While Duncan walked down the school hallway, other children were busy chatting with one another. He was nervously awaiting any name calling from his classmates regarding his actions on Friday but to his relief no one spoke to him. Then the morning bell rang. After he sat down in his seat, Brenda and Carley walked into the classroom, then Alvin. Duncan braced himself for their insults but they ignored him. One minute later Ms. Valli entered the classroom. After the students told her good morning she asked Duncan, "How are you feeling Duncan," in a friendly tone and he replied that he was fine. Sometime later the bell rang for lunchtime and recess. Just like before none of the other children including Alvin never bothered Duncan in the lunchroom or on the playground.

Minutes after the kids were back in class Principal Walker entered and told Miss Valli she wanted to see Alvin in her office. He was surprised to see his father as he walked into her office. "Please sit down," she told him. "Is Duncan Scarpelli in your class?" Alvin replied yes. "His father called me this morning about you shoving Duncan on Friday and mocking him when he got upset. Is this true?" she asked. Alvin knew he had no choice but to answer. "Yes Miss," he replied. She continued, "This is a serious matter. I told your father about the anti-bullying policy I made last week. You're hereby suspended from school for three days. Go back to class and get your things." His father followed him and told Ms. Valli that his son would be absent from school for the next three days. From that day on Alvin, Brenda, or Carley never bothered Duncan again.

THE END

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