Back to School - Chapter Four

Hamilton held up a hand. “You mean to tell me, Edwards, you dreamed about the house where you live with your parents?” The boy shook his head. “No, sir, I’ve never seen this house before, but in my dream, I knew it was mine. And I’m not married, sir, and I don’t have any kids.”

Back to School is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. The podcast version of the story is presented in six instalments, one per chapter. At the end of each episode, Robert provides insight into the writing of the story and chapter.

The show notes include links to Back to School on Tall And True and the podcast's theme music and sound effects.

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Writer's Insight into Back to School and Chapter Four

As explained in earlier chapters, I wrote the first draft of Back to School in 1992. The story was initially titled A Second Chance but then became Another Chance. And when I shared the short story on Tall And True in 2017, I renamed it again to Back to School.    

In Chapter Four, Charlie explains to his headmaster, Heavy-Handed Hamilton, how the strange house in his dream belonged to the “adult him”. And how he recognised “his family” in it, his wife and daughters and two sons, the oldest of whom is the same age as Charlie, sixteen. Charlie then goes on to describe his birthday party in the dream. And his realisation of why his sixteen-year-old son glares at him with loathing, because Charlie won’t let him leave school. And the source of the dread Charlie feels: he’s lost his job and is unemployed again.

At his daughter’s urging, Charlie makes a wish when he cuts his birthday cake, something perhaps we’ve all wished once or twice in our adult lives: “I wish I’d known what I know now, as an unemployed husband and father. Back when I was the same age as my son. When I was still at school, and life wasn’t a bad dream.”

Charlie opens his eyes after making the wish and finds he’s sixteen again. 

Thanks for listening to this podcast. I hope you enjoyed Chapter Four of Back to School. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at

Chapter Five, Sixteen Again, will be released shortly. In the meantime, check your podcast feed for earlier chapters and other self-contained short story episodes of Tall And True Short Reads. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app.

And please tell your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Read Back to School at

Podcast Theme and Podcast Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 'Pastorale' – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from

Creaky chair:

TV sitcom laughter:

Girls babble:

Plates stacking:


Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads produced using Audacity. Thanks to Josh (VoiceOverMaster) Meyer for Audacity recording tips and tricks.

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