Just Leave — a short story for English reading and speaking

Just Leave blog pic

A man stands up, leaves his job, leaves the island where he lives and walks away from his entire life.

But the people around him try to stop him from leaving.

Why?

This is a short story lesson plan that your students will love.

The lesson includes:

  • introductory questions
  • Just Leave – a short story of 1000 words for reading
  • reading comprehension questions
  • essential vocabulary
  • discussion questions
  • a role play activity
  • a presentation activity
  • a writing exercise

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Introduction

Have you ever felt tempted to just pack your bags and leave?

Are you happy where you are right now? Or would you like to just walk out and leave?

What would be the consequences if you left right now?

Just Leave

Kevin got to his feet.

He looked around the office at all of his colleagues working inside their cubicles and cleared his throat.

“I’m going,” he said.

A couple of his co-workers looked up at him.

Kevin shoved his chair away from the desk, pulled his jacket on, and walked out of his cubicle.

Frank – Kevin’s closest colleague and now a good friend – stood by his own cubicle.

“Where are you going?” he said.

“I just have to get out of here,” said Kevin, shaking his head.

He didn’t make eye contact with Frank. He just wanted to leave.

“You can’t just go,” said Frank, a smile spreading across his face.

“Watch me,” said Kevin. “I’m leaving.”

Frank indicated to the other people in the office.

Kevin made his way to the exit and Frank ushered after him, snapping his fingers at the others to help him.

Frank called out after Kevin.

“Kevin. We can talk about this. No need to be like this.”

His tone was patronising and demeaning. Kevin ignored it. At the lift, he stabbed at the button with his finger.

But there was no light to show the lift was in service.

Kevin pulled the fire door open and went down the stairs.

Just as he got down the first flight of steps, the door opened again and Frank followed with the other office staff.

“Kevin! Stop! You can’t just walk out of here!”

Kevin rushed down the stairs. He got to the lobby of the building and marched to the front exit.

Two of the security guards blocked his way.

“Excuse me, sir. I can’t let you leave.”

They raised their hands to block his path, but Kevin dodged past them and out the door.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, and the sky was blue.

A perfect day for leaving.

His co-workers from the office bundled out onto the street, led by Frank.

“Kevin, where are you going? You can’t just leave!”

Kevin ignored them. The sun felt good on his face. The air felt fresh and clean.

A sign pointed to the harbour. A small logo of a ship next to it.

Kevin marched down the street.

A passer-by pointed at Kevin, looking towards Frank.

“Where is he going?” he called out.

“He’s trying to leave,” said Frank. “We have to stop him.”

As Kevin walked down the street, other people paid attention to him.

They called out after him.

“Kevin! Where are you going?”

Kevin didn’t look back. He kept on marching forward.

“I’m leaving,” he said, quietly to himself.

The growing crowd howled as one. The mob of people grew bigger.

Shopkeepers, street sweepers, an elderly man out walking his dog. They all joined Frank and the other office workers.

Soon their number reached thirty people or more.

“Stop!” they cried. “You can’t leave!”

A woman ran up to Frank in the crowd.

“You have to stop him! He’s going to the ferry terminal… He wants to get on the ferry!”

Frank nodded at her and rushed to grab Kevin’s arm.

He pulled at Kevin’s elbow, spinning him around to face him.

“Stop this stupid game right now, Kevin. Enough of this. Let’s go back to the office.”

Kevin spun on his feet, but didn’t fall. He yanked his arm free and glared at Frank.

“I’m leaving,” he said. “I’ve had enough of this place. I have to get out of here.”

Kevin continued down the hill. More signs for the ferry terminal appeared beside the road.

“I have been here for too long,” said Kevin. “I should have done this a long time ago.”

The crowd grew bigger and bigger. People piled out of shops, from their houses.

They just stopped what they were doing and ran after the crowd.

The crowd streamed past a cafe and a man enjoying a quiet cup of coffee saw the commotion and rose to his feet. He joined the mob on the street.

Soon they reached such a number that they filled the street.

A man ran ahead in front of Kevin.

“We have to stop him,” the man called out. “I’m going to run down to those police. They will help us.”

Ahead, two police officers stood by the side of the road.

Frank sidled up to Kevin, his voice low and threatening.

“You won’t be able to leave now,” he said. “The police will stop you.”

The crowd let out a cheer as the man ran up to talk to the police.

But Kevin continued walking down towards the harbour. He clenched his teeth together and thought of what to say to the two police officers if they stopped him.

As he neared the two officers, he saw the man talking to them excitedly. One officer nodded his head and started walking towards Kevin.

“Excuse me, sir,” he said. “Where are you going?”

Kevin stopped. The crowd milled around behind him.

“I’m leaving this place,” he said. “I’m going to the ferry terminal.”

The police officer looked behind at the other officer. The second officer stared blankly at Kevin.

The first officer stepped forward and held out his hand to Kevin.

“That is not a good idea, sir. I think you should go back to your office and stay there.”

Kevin stood his ground. He didn’t move.

“Are you telling me or asking me?” he said.

The officer looked at his associate a second time. The second officer took one step towards Kevin.

“We are advising you, sir. Please don’t make any trouble.”

The crowd reared up behind him. Their voices raised in protest.

“You must stop him!” they called out as one. “Make him stop! He cannot leave!”

Kevin let out a quiet laugh at the police officer.

“You can’t stop me, can you? If you could stop me, you would.”

He walked down the hill to the ferry. He stepped between the two officers. Neither one tried to stop him. They just stared at him as he walked past them.

The crowd let out a gasp of fear.

Kevin walked faster and faster and then broke into a run. He ran the last few metres to the ferry terminal.

Soon he was right in front of the ferry itself. A steel-mesh walkway led from the side of the harbour to the boat.

No crew members were visible. Just the boat.

Kevin ran up the walkway and held onto the side of the railing. From here, he could see the town clearly. The road that led uphill through the middle of the town and straight up to the building that housed his office.

The crowd stood on the harbour. He could see his work colleagues, shop owners, bank staff, the two police officers and many local people from the town.

“Come back down here,” called out a woman. “You cannot leave.”

“None of us leaves,” cried another man.

“Why not?” asked Kevin. “Why do you all stay here?”

“We have no choice,” said another. “We must stay here. It’s just the way it is.”

Kevin shook his head.

“You can all leave. We can all leave. Any time we want.”

The ferry let out a blast from its horn. And the engine roared into life.

Then the ferry left the harbour wall and chugged out towards the sea.

Kevin gazed back at the crowd of people. They stared back at him, their faces twisted in despair.

“We can all go any time we want,” said Kevin to himself.

Soon the crowd became smaller and smaller. Then the harbour shifted further and further away into the distance.

Then Kevin could no longer see it at all.

It all just disappeared.

Reading Comprehension Questions

Who is the main character in this story?

Where does he work?

Who is Frank?

Where did Kevin go?

Who follows him out of the office?

What is wrong with the lift?

How does Kevin leave?

Who tries to stop Kevin in the lobby of the building?

What is the weather like outside?

What sign does Kevin see on the street?

What other people follow Kevin outside?

How many people are in the crowd following Kevin?

Where is Kevin going?

What does Frank do to stop Kevin from leaving? What does he say to him?

Who does one man in the crowd talk to? Why does he want to talk to them?

Do the police officers stop Kevin?

How does Kevin respond?

What does Kevin see in the harbour?

How does he board the ferry?

Does he see any other people on the ferry?

What can he see from the ferry?

What does a woman call out to Kevin?

What sound does the ferry make?

What does Kevin see as the ferry leaves?

Essential Vocabulary

Colleagues

Excuse me

Advising you

Cubicles

Beautiful day

Trouble

Cleared his throat

Harbour

Gasp of fear

Shoved his chair away

Logo

Run (verb)

Walked out

Passer-by

Railing

Closest colleague

Terminal

Town

Patronising and demeaning

Nodded at

Local people

Lift (elevator)

Glared at

Harbour wall

Fire door

Commotion

Chugged out

Stairs

Rose to his feet

Gazed back

Lobby

Police officers

Twisted in despair

Security guards

Stared blankly

Disappeared

 

Exercise

There may be a lot of new or unfamiliar vocabulary to you in the story. This is the perfect time to

get to know these new and strange words and phrases.

Write down all the new words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look up the meaning of

the new vocabulary in a dictionary or online and write down the meaning next to the word or

phrase.

It should look something like this:

 

Colleaguespeople that you work with in the same job or work location.

 

To clear one’s throat to make a sound in one’s throat to gain attention or speak more clearly.

 

Then write a sentence of your own that uses the new word or phrase correctly.

 

I get one very well with all my colleagues apart from one person.

 

The man went to the front of the room and cleared his throat. Everyone looked up at him.

 

If you do this correctly, it will help you learn many new words and phrases. This will build your

English vocabulary and writing down all the words and phrases, making sentences of your own,

will all help you to remember all of this new vocabulary.

Do this with all the vocabulary and, over time, this will help improve all your English skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Discussion Questions

What is this story about? Say in your own words what the story is about.

Why does Kevin want to leave the place he is in? What do you think made Kevin want to do this?

Where is Kevin? What kind of place is it? Why are the other people there?

Do all the people in this place like living there? Why/why not?

Why do they want Kevin to stay in this place?

Have you ever had thoughts like Kevin?

Have you ever wanted to just get up and leave a place you are in? Why? What happened?

Do you want to leave where you are right now? Why/why not?

If you could leave where you are right now, how would you do it?

And where would you go?

Why would you go to this place?

Role Play

This is a role play activity with two characters.

Kevin

Frank

Imagine one of you is Kevin, and you have arrived in a new place. You are happy and glad you left the place you were in with Frank before.

Then one day, Frank calls you. He asks you to come back. You say no, and you give him all the reasons why.

You can say why the new place is better and how it is better.

And you give all the reasons why the old place is not good for your life.

But Frank tries to convince you to come back. He is very persistent.

 

Take some time to prepare your role play.

Then when you are ready, you can show the class.

How To Leave Where You Are

This is a presentation activity.

 

You want to leave where you are now. It doesn’t matter why you want to leave, but you have decided to leave.

Think about the steps you need to take to leave.

How will you leave the place you are in? And what do you need to do to leave?

 

For example, maybe you want to leave where you are now and climb a mountain in Nepal.

How would you do it?

And what steps would you take?

  1. I would read some books about mountain climbing and Nepal.

  2. I would go to the hospital and ask a doctor if I am physically fit enough to climb a mountain.

  3. I would buy the right clothing and equipment I need to climb a mountain.

  4. I would tell all my family and friends where I am going and when.

  5. I would book a flight to Nepal.

  6. I would pack my bags.

  7. I would go to the airport and leave.

 

You are going to make a brief presentation about leaving where you are and going somewhere else.

Tell the class what you would do and the steps you would need to follow.

Writing

You have left and gone to a new place. You have gone on a great adventure that has changed your life.

 

Now write a letter to an old friend that still lives in the old place.

Tell them why you left and where you are now.

Tell them how you got there. Maybe it took a long time. Maybe it was very easy. Or very difficult.

 

Write your letter as homework.

Now read it out in front of your class.

You can download the full lesson plan by clicking the link below!

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