On the Fence – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers. Many thanks to wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for leading the Friday Fictioneers. The challenge is to write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s photo was contributed by David Stewart. Be sure to stop by and read his tear-jerker. 🙂

The school-to-prison pipeline was coined to describe how America’s public schools fail kids. During the 2011-2012 school year, the US Department of Education estimated that there were 130,000 expulsions and 7 million suspensions among 49 million K-12 students – that’s one for every seven kids.

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

(100 words)

On the Fence*

The other kids played and kicked soccer balls around him. Again, Sam must complete math during recess.

No matter what he did, he was on the fence at recess. He sat.

“Uh-uh. No, up. On your feet.”

Sam sat. He stabbed the piece of paper with his pencil, crumbling it in a ball. Recess was over. He could sit at his desk, eyes on the clock.

Around the fence,

shiny with double-strand, barbed wire.

Life sentence.

You never leave.

“Honey,” said Sam’s mom. “I only ask you questions because you’re smarter than me and someday you’ll know all the answers.”



For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

63 thoughts on “On the Fence – Friday Fictioneers

    1. Doug, thank you. Unfortunately, it is true to life. I hope to shed some light on it. I think discipline needs to change with the times. I think it gets lost in all our new methods to better education. Some things are better, but obviously more needs to be done. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Aloha!


  1. A disturbing statistic. I particularly liked the part on your story in italics showing how hard it is to get out of this situation, which couples nicely with “No matter what she did, she was on the fence at recess”.


  2. This is so sad. I just want to hug Sam and help her through so her future can be a little brighter.
    This is one of your best Amy. I love the imagery, the build up, the voices, the realization. Very well done.


    1. Oh yes. I know the feeling! You just want to hug them all and tell them, “just get through this.” Life gets better. For some, the outlook may look so grim that may not be the case. I want to think everyone has a shot at living up to their potential.
      Thanks for all those kind words, Melanie! You made my day. x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is the new school and they do love it. I’m so happy about that. I’d have to check my stats again to be sure, but I feel confident FL ranks pretty high for their public schools. Everything is clicking and it’s scary.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Rochelle, I’m sorry to bring back those memories. No one should miss recess. Kids need it! Well, look at your now. Miss Novelist! You rose above and are an inspiration to me and to so many. Thanks!


  3. I like this, Amy, although it read more like poetry to me. It was as if I was reading the first sentence of a paragraph of a much longer piece. Because of that, I wasn’t always in one place- is Sam also on a physical fence (besides the metaphorical one), is she at home with her mom or at school, is she standing in the middle of a crowd of kids moving around her as the piece begins or off on her own as she’d be in detention? All these things lead me back to the same conclusion- this child is an outcast for something beyond her control, so in the end, I went there with you.
    (I love that you always challenge yourself to head in new and different directions!)


    1. Hey, Jen. The fence is physical as well as metaphorical here. “On the fence” is an actual term that has been used in schools to indicate detention and it is done out at recess. Many teachers give detention but don’t want kids to remain in the classroom during recess. On the fence is similar to facing the wall. Yeah, and that really rubs it in that kids may have detention on the playground in front of kids playing around them. My son has “on the bench.” I think he does get to sit. Obviously, I don’t agree with detention. It doesn’t work and can have severe consequences. This one is kind of personal for me. The end is more of a statement. The story may be a little disjointed due to length. Hopefully, you were able to piece it together. Thanks, Jen!


  4. Amy,
    I’m not on the fence about this topic and I love your piece. Our son, the surgeon, is a genius but struggled in school until we could get someone to listen and care. He obviously beat the odds against him. Kids learn in different ways and at different paces and we need to accommodate them.
    Happy Friday, Tracey


    1. Aww, thanks Tracey! I’m so delighted to hear your son’s success story and that he went on to become a surgeon. Wow! I wholeheartedly agree that kids learn in all different ways and at different paces. I’m always kind of shocked that while we always push for change in education, a lot of things remain the same. Kids unhappy, not learning. My son is having a lot of trouble and I’m pretty frustrated. I hope we can have a turnaround soon. Thanks. Happy Friday to you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The stats are almost hard to believe. If we look at our prison populations…well, they tell the whole story. I think there is a lot of truth to the school-to-prison pipeline. I hope you’re right about Sam. Thanks, Michelle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My best friends daughter is a second year teacher (2nd grade). She told her mother she may not teach next year and the reasons weren’t the students. The stress from meetings and performance evaluations and parents are overwhelming her. It’s so sad, she is a lovely young woman, smart and has always been good with kids. I am sure she would make a fine teacher if she was just allowed to teach.


      2. I went through a teaching program and did my student teaching and decided it really wasn’t for me. I had a really bad experience. So, I feel for your friend. Trust me. Now, I’m on the side of the parent. I don’t blame his teacher for anything. Classroom management, etc takes over and teaching can be a small part of the job. However, I don’t agree with some of the policies of the school, especially if there is research out there now that suggest they do more harm than good. I’m sorry to hear about your friend who may give up teaching. They have a very tough job, if not the toughest job. And the job doesn’t seem to be getting easier.


      3. From the parent’s side, I can say that in the case of my youngest when finally things were getting better (as opposed to the times with my older two) as far as recognizing the different needs of children, when he finally found a teacher who taught him the way he learned he flourished. He’s had some good teachers before but this particular teacher saw something in him. She will always be my angel.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That outdoor detention is cruel. I think a lot of the problems in schools today are a result of the lack of discipline. There are always going to be kids to act out to get attention and I still believe spankings are an effective deterent to bad behavior. Children who’ve never been held accountable for this actions will not grow up to be responsible adults.

    Still, I feel sorry for Sam. A very emotional and thought provoking piece.


    1. Russell, I think the kid who gets detention every day starts to question his/her self-worth. These kids soon start to feel they are bad and begin to find trouble outside of school, which isn’t hard to do since bad things are all around them. There’s a lot of research now that shows there are more positive methods out there that can really turn kids around. If you’re interested, here’s a great article: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/schools-behavior-discipline-collaborative-proactive-solutions-ross-greene

      Thanks so much for the kind words.


  6. Amy, the problem/s you touch on here are so complicated. I taught at a Lutheran high school for four years, then home schooled our girls through high school. I loved both. But the road of a teacher is very difficult these days, I think, for a variety of reasons. No easy answers, but answers are worth searching for.



    1. I’ve been on both sides as teacher and parent, so I get it. I do know how complicated it is. My 100-word story may seem to trivialize or diminish the problem. I hope not. We can’t stop searching for solutions. Thanks, Janet.


      1. Amy, I in no way meant to demean your story or say you thought there were pat answers. Your poignant story just set off a train of thought which went into my comment, but obviously with not quite the right introduction.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for saying that, Dawn. I’m not trying to lecture. How much can I say in a 100 words but to point to the problem. Look, here it is and it hasn’t gone away, unfortunately. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David. I’m glad you liked it. It’s not quite as happy as yours. My sister is a school psychologist and used the term just a day before I got your prompt! That’s how I had the idea, plus my kid is in detention all the time. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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