Short Story: “Never Set Yourself Up For Failure”

Nick Krimsbee was an 9-year-old boy and the world was his oyster; he often liked to imagine that his small little town of Walden, NY was the jewel in the center. He had never been out of his little town because his entire extended family lived in the same apartment complex.

It never bothered “little Nick,” as his dad liked to call him, that they never left because this town was his kingdom. His preschool and elementary school (the castle) were next to each other on the top of the hill and the coveted candy store (the treasury) that he did not often visit was half-way up that very same hill.

This week was going to be different because if he got a 100 on his history test his dad was going to take him to New York City (the biggest kingdom of them all) for the weekend. They were going to stay in a hotel, go to a Yankees game and they were going to go to the Bronx Zoo – oh how he could not wait – it was going to be the best weekend of his life.

To mark this momentous occasion he packed that Sunday night and spent the every night until that test on Thursday studying for his exam. His grades, in all subjects, were all very good before this test, generally in the 90s, but to get a 100 he was going to have to pull out all of the stops that a 9-year-old could pull out. He did not hang out with any friends or watch any TV; he studied. His father had once told him, “Never set yourself up for failure,” and he was going to sure he would not start now.

When Friday, the day he was going to get his test score back, morning rang from his alarm clock he bolted out of bed, showered, brushed his teeth, and almost forgot his backpack on the way out of the house. He patiently did all of the day’s work, half daydreaming about New York City, because he knew that he wasn’t getting his test back until the last fifteen minutes of school.

After an eternity he was running home, test in hand with a big 100 written on it in red pen, being careful not to fall forward down the steep hill. He burst in the front door and showed the test to his mom who said,”Nice job honey,” and patted him on the head and gave him a hug.

He was sitting at the kitchen table, test in hand, when his father got home at 5 o’clock. His dad walked in, saw the big red 100, and said, “Sorry Nick, maybe another weekend.”

Nick – never setting himself up for failure after that – only breezed through school after that momentous occasion and his father was careful to never make anymore promises. They never did go to New York City – never together – and when Nick grew up he moved there and never spoke with his father again.


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