Untitled work, rough draft, not edited, read at your own risk, etc etc etc. Also copyrighted, please don’t repost anywhere. Thanks. You can catch up from the beginning here.
The day before school begins is always hectic. You spend your summer in continuing education courses, or working a summer job, or trying to write a PhD thesis, and then suddenly you have to completely shift gears. This is my fourth year teaching, and the setup is the same. Come in, get your classroom. If you’re lucky, you’re assigned to the same room as the year before.
I wasn’t lucky this year. Just the opposite, in fact. I’ve been moved from second to third grade—not a bad move really—and down the hall to the third grade pod. Where I’m in the least desirable classroom, and the only one in the entire school which has the windows mostly blocked off by a not very-well-thought out addiction to the building.
The room is clean, at least. In fact, it’s so clean that the scent of ammonia stings my nostrils a little. I walk to the back of the class and open my one functioning window in hopes of getting some fresh air into the room. I wonder what it will be like in here once it starts getting cold.
It’ll be fine. Because it has to be. I walk back to my new desk and open up the backpack which I’d stuffed as much classroom supplies as I could. Without the car, I’d walked to work this morning. Luckily it isn’t all that far, a little bit less than a mile going south past Mount Holyoke College.
Inside the box I have construction paper, printouts, posters and other materials. I begin taping up the posters. I like teaching, and I like the kids to have fun and be engaged in class. I’m actually looking forward to taking on third graders this year. They’re high energy and usually interested in school, and they’re not jaded yet like the older kids. I treasure the enthusiasm.
It’s a little after lunchtime and I have my back to the door, taping up a poster in the back of the room, when I hear a knock on the door. I look back—it’s Sarah Higgins, the school secretary. She’s a sweet lady of indeterminate years, somewhere between forty and sixty. Laugh lines around her mouth and eyes, and graying hair.
“Hey, Miss Higgins—what can I do for you?”
“Intercom’s out,” she said. “They’re working on it. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that you’ve got an appointment later on. Jasmine Welch and her big sister.”
“Oh Jasmine! I saw she was in my class this year. Why her sister?”
Her face clouded immediately. “Oh, my. You didn’t hear?”
How would I know if I heard? “Heard what?”
She sighed. “Jasmine’s parents were killed in an accident last week.”
Oh, shit. “Last week? And she’s coming back to school already?”
“I wondered the same thing—I can’t imagine what her family is thinking, putting her sister in charge. They must have grandparents or something. Her sister hasn’t even been in South Hadley in years, she went off to be in the Army or something. But anyway, she called wanting to talk with Jasmine’s teacher, so they’ll be here in about twenty minutes.”
I mutter a little under my breath as she leaves. Twenty minutes. Fine. I finish taping up the poster and walk to the desk. I still have a significant amount of paperwork to complete—lesson plans and timetables—but I barely have time to even get started. Five minutes later, there is another knock on my door.
My eyes widen a little and I feel my fists clench when I see a woman standing in my doorway.
Her hair is blonde, almost white, and cut in a reverse bob. I’d guess she’s five foot six inches, and instead of jeans and a t-shirt, today she’s wearing a blue knee length skirt and a black tank top. I’m male and human and heterosexual, so my eyes are inevitably drawn to her very nice looking breasts, but I force them back up to her eyes. She has very intense blue eyes.
Angry looking eyes. And I don’t have time to deal with her crap today, I have an appointment with a student who lost her parents in just a few minutes. I can’t remember her name… Chloe? I’ve always been terrible with names.
“I’m sorry, I’ve got an appointment in a few minutes. I don’t know how you found me at work, but you need to go through your insurance company—”
“I really don’t have time to—”
“Mister P!” The voice comes from behind the blonde woman. A four foot tall blur races into the room—eight year old Jasmine Welch.
Oh, dear God. The hot woman who wrecked my car is Jasmine’s older sister?
Jasmine flies into me, head butting my stomach. I’m caught by surprise, and I gasp, suddenly winded. “Jasmine,” I croak. I lift her up and hug her.
“Mister P, I missed you so much.”
This little girl lost her parents? Just a few days ago? She was the kindest girl in my second grade class last year. Ahh, crap. I have to blink my eyes to keep them from watering and spilling over. I look up at the blonde girl—Chloe?—and meet her eyes.
She looks mortified.