The Scholars of St. Anselm’s. A Short Story.


Jon, Tom, Bev and Tammy were eating lunch together in the school yard of St. Anselm’s Elementary School. Jon and Tom were, as usual, trying to show off who was the best— the smartest, strongest, fastest, bestest.

Jon said, “I know what the biggest biggest most huge creature looks like. Bet you don’t!” This was probably aimed mostly at Tom, but Jon was open to challenging the girls as well.

Tom said, “Ha! Everybody knows that… that’s so stupid. Bet you don’t.”

Tammy joined in. “ Well I bet neither of you know, really. You just think you do.”

Bev kept quiet, as she usually did in these sort of arguments.

“The biggest creature,” stated Jon with the air of an expert, “has gray skin, big ears, and a long nose. Bet you are so stupid that you don’t even know what they are called.”

Tammy jumped in. “That’s an elephant. Even my baby brother knows that! But that isn’t the biggest creature anyway. The biggest creature lives in the water. It looks like a giant fish but it breathes sir. They are so big that they can swallow a person. I read about that.”

“That’s a whale… of course!” said Tom.

“A blue whale actually.” Bev chimed in. She loves watching shows about animals. “But blue whales can’t swallow people. They eat small stuff in the ocean. Maybe some others could, but I would hate to find out. But I saw a show that said that there are trees in California that are bigger than any animal. They are so big that one can drive a car throught them..”

“How can you drive a car through a tree? But that don’t count,” countered Jon. “Trees aren’t creatures. They don’t move or anything– at least not much.”

Bev responded. “Who says that a creature has to move? Animals are alive and plants are alive. Who says that plants aren’t creatures?”

Tom jumped in. “It really doesn’t matter what a creature is anyway. The biggest creature doesn’t look like any of those. It has scaly skin like armor, wings so that it can fly and breathes fire.”

“That’s a dragon, you idiot!” yelled Tom. “And their not really! Their like made up. Imaginary.”

“Who says? How do you know. I saw a thing on TV that showed that dragons might be real… or at least to really exist at one time. A lot of those, you know, dinosaur skelatons look a lot like dragons. You think you are so smart, Tom. But you don’t know…” Jon sounded hurt.

Bev tried to calm things down. “Maybe we should limit things to things we know for sure exist or existed.”

But Jon was on a roll. “Who’s to say that if I imagine it, it is not real? If I say it is real, it is real to me, and I am picturing a dragon that is bigger than this school.”

Others began adding joke suggestions. “A whale bigger than our town.” “A goat bigger than the biggest tree and it can eat it in one ‘CHOMP’.” “An elephat that is bigger than the earth and travels from galaxy to galaxy.” “A person bigger than the Universe.” That last one stopped the group for a moment.

Jon said.”That’s stupid. Nothing can be bigger than the Universe. It is… everything, right?

“My dad said that God is bigger than the Universe,” replied Tammy. “He made it, God must be the biggest.” Tammy looked at the rest triumphantly.

“Oh… right…” said Tom. “You want to rejct my dragon simply because I can’t prove it actually exists outside of my imagination, but then you want us to accept God. I bet your dad can’t prove God really exists either.”

Tammy responded. “My dad thinks that because we can imagine God, God must be real. If God wasn’t real, then we couldn’t imagine Him… or something like that.” Tammy always got confused on this point.

Bev thought about that and replied, “That doesn’t sound right. Does giant walking snowcones exist just because I imagine them?” Everyone laughed as they pictured giant snowcones invading their school on this particularly hot day in June.

“Yeah,” John continued the argument, “and if each person on earth has a different picture of God in their heads, does that mean that all of them are right, and God is like all of them?”

Tom jumped in. “So if everyone imagines God different from everyone else, maybe it means that God must be all of those things everyone imagines…. or maybe that means that God doesn’t exist.”

Another moment of thoughtful reflection. Tammy broke the silence. “But that is like what we have been talking about, you know… the biggest creature. Tom, if you are right then the biggest creature must have gray skin and big ears, is shaped like a fish, has branches and leaves, and flies while breathing fire.” The others laughed again picturing such a creature. “Or… the fact that we can’t agree what the largest creature is, proves that the largest creature does not exist.”

Jon stated emphatically, “That’s stupid. Of course something is the biggest creature. That just stands to reason. Just because we can’t agree doesn’t change the fact that something is the biggest. You know, this has gotten pretty lame. I’m getting a headache. Let’s do something else.”

The others agreed. It was much too hot of a day to talk that much.

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