It was another day at the Frutopian Academy, and Archie hated it. He liked going to school for the learning, but he did not like his classmates. They were mean to him because he was an Aubergine, or as the locals called him, an eggplant. Archie walked down the carpeted halls of the old palace and looked at the beautiful green, serpentine walls of the academy. “Here we go again,” he sighed before entering the classroom.
There were ten rows of desks with seats for two. Archie lumbered down the center aisle of the class, wishing to quietly find his seat. He passed by onion and apple children, walnut boys and strawberry girls. There was an assortment of fruits and vegetables from every part of the kingdom.
“Look who it is,” Gorge, the potato bully said. “Here comes the eggplant!”
“Look how funny he walks,” his crony, Vince the Tomato, said.
“Look how dark and shiny he is. Hahaha!” Gorge laughed. The Frutopian children around him followed suit for fear he might target them next.
Archie’s cheeks blushed a deep purple as his classmates all turned to laugh at him. He trudged to his desk and sat down in embarrassment, ashamed to lift his eyes.
Archie dreamed of his happy days back in the Aubergine village with his siblings. They used to lay out in the sun on the grassy hills and laze in the canal together. He wished he could be home with them now.
Archie silently put up with the sneers of his classmates as the teacher came in the room and began to teach. Mr. Curtis was an apple, and a very intelligent one at that. He taught the children arithmetic and reading, two of Archie’s favorite subjects. The boy listened intently in all of the lessons, and before he knew it, Mr. Curtis rang the bell for recess.
Archie’s heart fluttered, for he knew that recess meant isolation. He went outside and sat himself on some rocks near the Crystal Lake. From there he was able to watch the other children as they played on the playground.
Archie picked up a stone and tossed it into the water. He watched the ripples extend across the surface of the water and then exhaled deeply. He was about to wish he was at home for the second time that day, when all of a sudden, he saw a crow land on the playground.
The gigantic bird was cawing at a group of the children on the teeter-totter. The children screamed and began to run, but one walnut, a girl named Willow, fell off the teeter-totter and lagged behind the rest. Archie watched as the crow began to close in on this one unfortunate child.
“Get back!” Willow cried at the giant black bird.
“Caw!” the crow cried back.
“Shoo!” she yelled, tossing some debris at it.
“Caw caw!” the crow cried again, taking a peck at the girl’s shell.
The other children ran, terrified by the monstrous creature. Archie saw that his classmates were either running or just watching the scene unfold, but he decided to do something about it.
The boy stood from his stone and bumbled over to the walnut girl and the crow. The crow’s head tilted back and forth as it looked through beady eyes at the strange plant standing before it. “Caw!”
Without saying a word, Archie lifted one of his heavy stems and swung it directly at the bird. The clubbed fist landed in the bird’s chest. “Squawk!” Feathers flew everywhere as the crow was pummeled backward head over talons. The bird took flight, squawking as it flew away, defeated.
“Hurray!” Archie’s classmates cried and clapped. “You are a hero!” They all cheered.
“Thanks for helping me out,” Willow said, standing back to her feet.
“Not a problem. I didn’t want to see that crow hurt you,” Archie said as Gorge and Vince walked over to them.
“Archie, I’m sorry for making fun of you,” Gorge said with his head hung low.
“Me too,” Vince chimed.
“Consider it a lesson learned,” Willow said on Archie’s behalf. “No matter how big or small, round or tall, everybody is different, but should be treated the same by all.”