SCENE 1, INTERIOR. AFTERNOON, CLASSROOM. The teacher has returned from his trip to New York, and his first day back at school has just ended. All the students have left for the day with the exception of one-fifth grade boy. The boy is milling about by the classroom door. After a minute or two, the boy approaches his teacher who is finishing reading their journal entries from the weekend.
JOEY: How was your trip, Mr. Z?
TEACHER: It was pretty good; I had a lot of fun.
[There is another short pause as the teacher enters grades, and the boy stands in front of his desk].
TEACHER: Hey, Joey…I just noticed that you didn’t turn in your journal entry this morning...
JOEY: Oh, I was absent last week so I didn’t know what the topic was.
TEACHER: You were absent every day that I was gone in New York?
JOEY: Uh, yeah…I felt a little bit sick.
TEACHER: You know I looked at your attendance records from last year; you seem to have missed an awful lot of school. [Pause]. But this year you hardly ever miss a day…that’s so strange. You usually seem to be absent only on the days that I’m not here...
[The boy looks a bit guilty and rocks back and forth from foot to foot].
TEACHER: If I didn’t know better, I’d say you stayed home because you missed me, and didn’t want to come to school because I wasn’t here.
[The boy freezes in place, stunned; his expression clearly indicates that his teacher nailed it exactly. The teacher narrows his eyes slightly and lowers his voice].
TEACHER: You skipped school because you missed me, didn’t you?
[The boy’s face flushes to bright red as he moves toward the door].
JOEY: Uh, I’d better get home, Mr. Z.
[As the boy steps out the door, the teacher calls after him].
TEACHER: Hey, Joey!
[After a second, the boy pokes his head through the doorway].
TEACHER: I missed you, too; besides, if I hadn’t come to school for a few days and I wasn't me, I probably wouldn’t have come either.
[The boy breaks into a grin and vanishes through the door].
[Fade the black].