• Campfire Stories


Candy is an unfair trade. Think about it. It's something that tastes so good, but comes at the cost of being so terribly bad for your teeth. Who knew something so sweet could be so rotten?

I think a lot of us would rather be doing something else instead of reading. Reading is fun, but hard. Especially since everything else is basically fighting for your attention.

Ms. Murphy taught sixth-grade English and no one in her class liked to read. Well, maybe one or two of them did, but still. Her job wasn't easy.

Since no one read at home, she dedicated the last fifteen minutes of every class as a silent reading time.

It... didn't go as planned. Most of the kids looked at their phones, not their books. And the whispering back and forth wasn't just loud, but it was also rude!

I shouldn't say that everyone hated reading in that class. There was one exception. Her name was Hollie. She had big glasses, bigger braces, and sat in the center of the classroom. Despite being surrounded by chatterboxes, she was the only one who seemed to like reading.

Ms. Murphy noticed this and after class, she asked Hollie if she wanted to move to a quieter seat. But Margie didn't mind. Through her braces, she said something like this:

"It's okay, Ms. Murphy. I know not everyone likes to read. When I was little, my Mom would give me an extra cookie for every book I read. Maybe they just need a little reward."

"That idea just might work," Ms. Murphy thought.

By the next week, she had the reward on her desk. It was a gumball machine. Ms. Murphy's rules were simple. If everyone in the class spent fifteen minutes reading in absolute silence, then everyone got a gumball on the way out of class.

If you've ever been to middle school, then you know gum is worth more than gold. And guess what? Ms. Murphy's idea worked! The whole class was glued to their books. It was so quiet you could hear a toothpick drop.

When the bell rang, everyone got a colorful little sphere to chew on. All except Hollie. Her braces made chewing gum impossible, but it was okay. She was happy the class was reading more! Ms. Murphy's plan was a flawless success.

By the end of the month, there was something different about the class. More and more students were out sick. The ones who did show up looked like something had wired their jaws shut. They never spoke up, not even to answer questions, but when they did, the words gargled in their mouth and hurt just to listen to.

No one felt like taking a gumball anymore. No one except Hollie, the healthiest of the bunch. She told Ms. Murphy that her days with braces were numbered. And once they came off, she'd get a gumball for herself.

On the next school day, it seemed like the whole class had returned and none of them were saying a word. None of them could. Half of the class had bandages wrapped around their jaws. The other half had no teeth left to speak with.

No one, not even the police, knew what was going on. Luckily, one of the students had saved a gumball. After a closer look, the police found out it wasn't an ordinary gumball. It was more like rubber cement. It would harden overnight and glue the jaw shut. The only way to pry it back open was by having all your teeth removed.

One day, Ms. Murphy didn't come to class. The rumor was that the police arrested her for poisoning her students. And every silent student, toothless or not, was contempt with believing that.

Well, almost every student.

See, Ms. Murphy was the one who brought the machine in, but Hollie brought the gumballs.

It all went according to plan.

Now, everyone was quiet around her. She could finally get back to reading in peace. All while having the prettiest smile in class.


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