Tag Archives: short story

The Deal

‘What pray is that?’ Mr Yardley leaned over the pages of Angus Whateley’s note book. Angus did not reply but let his black dyed hair hang across his face, hiding the eye liner and skull earring that he should not have been wearing. ‘I asked you a question Angus, how is that relevant to the physics of energy?’
‘It’s the alien sir.’ Angus muttered. Sci Fi DoodleThere was a snigger and Angus closed his note book, his braceleted arm revealed a host of suspect scratches. ‘That’s art Mr Whateley, not science, please focus on the subject in hand.’
‘He believes in aliens sir, he says he’s been kidnapped.’
‘I believe the technical term is “abducted” The last time I checked I didn’t think we got ransom demands from aliens.’ There was a general murmur of laughter from the class but they knew better than to laugh too loudly, lest the wrath of “sir” was visited upon them. Angus covered his picture and attended to the work sheet he had been given. ‘It’s not art sir, it’s memory.’
‘Tell that to David Hockney’
‘Is he a scientist sir?’ someone chirruped.
‘Oh God!’ Mr Yardley wailed. ‘He’s an artist, he paints a lot from memory, as many of you who do art would know, if you bothered to listen to Miss Barker, rather than plaster her classroom with unthinking graffiti.’
‘She can’t keep control sir!’ The same voice chirruped, but they had gone too far this time, and attention was turned away from Angus’s alien to the relative merits of the requirements of self discipline as opposed to imposed discipline. Discipline was duly imposed on the culprit, including the requirement to offer an apology to Miss Barker for his very existence. Mr Yardley himself, had no trouble imposing discipline, but then his class could be conducted with the comfort of prospective tests, right or wrong answers and a good old fashioned exam at the end, unlike the preparation, constant creativity and day-long exercise that passed, according to Mr Yardley, for an exam.
The lesson was nearly over, Angus had completed his work sheet and had returned to his picture of the alien. It was indeed a traditional alien, a Grey, he had looked them up, after that day. They were the tall slim, humanoid forms, with the huge eyes and diamond faces. They walked a little like dinosaurs and were reported to abduct people on a regular basis, but most could not remember what had happened to them. Angus was exceptional though, he had a special memory. He could remember his mother’s milk, he could remember crawling and hauling himself up on the furniture, he could remember his first steps and his mother’s reaction. He could remember that because she wasn’t there. She had left him in the charge of a nanny, a nanny that he knew now that his father had had no knowledge of, a nanny who saw him take his first steps while his mother went out to the “gym” for some “personal training”. He remembered how the poor nanny was scolded for allowing him to walk, to take his first steps, without his mother present, perhaps it was her guilt that had made that day so unforgettable, the yelling at both him and the nanny, as if walking at sixteen months old was a crime. Whatever the reason he did think that he remembered all that, he thought that he could see his mother’s face, feel her warmth, they were real enough to him even if (perhaps) the memories were just imposed information, imposed by the rows his father and mother had had throughout his childhood. Imposed by the repetition of accusations once his father had found out what was going on. What he couldn’t remember was whether it was his fault that his father found out about Peter, or whether he had said something as he struggled to learn to talk. Had he asked about nanny? Mentioned Peter’s name? Whatever the reason, his father had found out and the shouting began.
It was the shouting that haunted him throughout his childhood, shouting that may well have been the reason that he began to scratch and gouge at his skin in order to blot out the agony of their enmity. The shouting that led to their final declaration of hatred and that was around the time he began to grow out his hair, dye it black, block his face from view with its length. That was when he began to annoy, upset and infuriate his parents whose remaining hope of their dying marriage was their son. Their son, who they hoped would survive to make them proud. He would be an architect, an engineer, a physicist, anything but a goth, an artist, a mentally ill freak who screamed to the high street ‘I have dysfunctional parents!’ At least that’s how they saw him – as the final disappointment, the culmination of their misery together. Perhaps the hair, the dye, the piercings and the talent for art would have come anyway, regardless of family circumstances, perhaps a functional family would have bought him his hair dye, a kind mother would have painted his nails, a loving father would have visited exhibitions with him, and shared his love of the abstract, perhaps colour, not black, would have inhabited his drawings, perhaps life, not death, would have been his subject, perhaps he would never have been left at home alone that night, when the aliens came … perhaps. Because he could remember them, he could remember every detail of their faces, every detail of their deformed arms, their silent but clear communication, he could remember the pain, the fear, oh yes he could remember them.
‘Angus!’ Mr Yardley was standing in front of him. ‘Angus, this has got to stop.’ The rest of the class were packing up and leaving the room, Angus was clearly not going to get away so easily. ‘What sir?’ He replied sullenly, not meeting the eyes of the teacher above him. This annoyed Mr Yardley and he knew it. ‘Look at me boy!’ Angus raised his head, but the sight of his black lined eyes, false eyelashes and copious piercings did not raise Mr Yardley’s spirits. ‘You’re a clever boy Angus, capable of great deal, it doesn’t have to be science, but it could be, whatever it is, whatever subject, in your case boy what it should be is success at something, Art, English, History, Biology, every teacher who teaches you attests to your ability but it’s all taken on faith, there is no evidence, except these drawings.’ He indicated the sketchbook that was Angus’s only treasure. It was full of sketches of aliens, space ships, point of view shots, disturbing eyes and probes, strange abstract patterns, a map of the stars that seemed to be extraordinarily detailed and, to Mr Yardley’s amateur, but interested, eyes a recognisable pattern from the Southern Hemisphere. ‘Can’t you stop this nonsense and focus on something real?’
‘It is real!’
‘All right, even if it is, what does it get you? Can’t you incorporate it somehow? Accept that it is what it is and move on with your life.’
‘I want people to know, I want them to understand.’
‘They’re never going to mate, not unless Independence Day happens.’ There was a pause in the conversation, Mr Yardley was right, Angus wasn’t stupid. He knew this was a lost cause, he knew his life, at least his quality of life, was under threat. Mr Yardley gave up and began to pack up. ‘It’s up to you mate, but you need to solve it somehow.’ He switched off the smart board and logged off the computer. ‘If I were you mate,’ he said as an aside. ‘I’d try to negotiate with them.’ He picked up the meagre homework he had been handed by some of the class. ‘Don’t break anything!’ He declared as he left the room.
Angus couldn’t concentrate, in fact he couldn’t wait, ever since his conversation with Mr Yardley, an idea had formed in his mind that had formed into a plan, a real plan, but it needed them, it needed them to come and find him, like they always did. When he returned home, his parents were in separate rooms operating the kind of peace that meant that dinner would be cooked, some form of television watched, whilst each parent lived their parallel life in silence, for the sake of Angus. Neither of them wanted to look at Angus, neither could hide their disappointment. Angus went to his room and waited. In time his mother called him down to supper, he went down meekly, his arm throbbing from an impatient scratch that his mother chose to ignore. She informed him that she and “her husband” would be going out that night, she was going to the pub, she had no idea where “he” was going. They would be back by morning and they had their phones if he needed anything. Result, a night alone was what he needed. All he need do now was assume the position and wait for them to come, because they would come, they were real and he would prove it, to himself at least.

The scandal broke two weeks later, apparently the lad had been coming to school for a week before it became clear he was on his own. Some of the damage on his arms had become more obvious and Miss Barker had reported it under safeguarding rules. Social Services went round to find the mess and the fact that the parents had disappeared. Angus had no explanation, he remained mute and nervous, which raised police concerns so they took him for questioning.
‘If you ask me’ said Mr Yardley in the staff room, ‘he’s better off without those parents.’
‘That wouldn’t be a justification for offing them’ Nick Driscoll helped himself to three biscuits from the communal packet, he seemed to have an eternal capacity to eat. ‘I don’t think he offed them’ Yardley nabbed the last one and sat down. ‘Self harm is his MO I don’t think he’s got it in him to harm somebody else.’
‘Well there has to be some explanation – they have disappeared.’ Miss Barker was anxiously re-reading a mark scheme, between sips of overly hot tea. ‘Aliens probably’ Driscoll grabbed the TES, ‘isn’t that also his MO?’ Nobody commented the meeting was about to begin.
The police let Angus go within a few hours because two new reports had come in. Axis Engineering complained that a quarter of million pounds had disappeared from the company’s Research and Development account, on the same day as Bernard Whateley had disappeared, not only that an infuriated young man, by the name of Peter, a personal trainer from the Fine Fitness Gym had discovered that his credit card account had been maxed out on a cash withdrawal. It seemed the couple had done a bunk. It was only a matter of time, said the police before they would be found. Indeed, they were not expert fraudsters. They had made some attempt to cover their tracks, buying flights to Rome on cards and then making cash purchases of flights to Sabah, Borneo, where they had booked a suite in the Tanjung Aru hotel, ironically enough the hotel where the biggest fraudster, Nick Leeson, had holed up after bringing down Barings Bank, perhaps that was their little joke or a sign of their ignorance. Whatever, the local police found them naked in bed, disoriented after what witnesses had described as drug fuelled night of music and drink and screaming. They were arrested, deported and charged, the police were delighted, at last a job done!
Angus was released back to his home, as it happened he had just turned 16 and his grandparents had agreed that they would ensure his safekeeping until the situation with the parents had been resolved. Neither set of grandparents appeared surprised by the actions of their offspring although each did blame the other, which presented some logistical problems for Angus.
The story came out over the next few weeks, the couple were adamant that they were innocent. Their marriage was dead, they were only holding on for the sake of Angus, who was a difficult boy, but they conceded that they had misjudged him. They had misjudged him they said, because now they believed him. They had no idea, they said, how they had got to Borneo. It had not been their plan, they only had memories of a bright light, strange big eyed faces, pain and probes, everything that Angus had described. They were ignored of course. Angus reneged on his claims, said that his self harm had been about getting attention, and his obsession with aliens a symptom of his need to escape from his parents’ constant arguing. The parents each got six years.
Angus improved visibly: the black hair was replaced by a conformist cut and a natural colour. Most of the piercing healed over, he kept one eyebrow, two ear piercings and, for old time’s sake the belly piercing. He still got a tattoo but it was a nice simple Maori pattern on his ankle and his art sketch book, sported colour and landscapes. He struggled with science, it had been his father’s wish to pursue it so he dropped it and took up Psychology. The scars on his arm faded and by the time he was seventeen, he was a handsome, well balanced young man, although he showed no desire to drive a car, he didn’t like country roads, he said.
Mr Yardley understood that, country roads could be scary places, particularly at night, particularly that night, the night the Whateley’s disappeared. It had been then that Yardley had been driving back from a particularly successful quiz competition, his scientific knowledge always aced it. His route took him past the Whateley’s house which always had been a bit isolated, it had the semiotics of Bates Motel crossed with the loneliness of Wuthering Heights and that night, well that night… He saw lights, a great light and something, something odd over the house. A shape, pretty big. He had the wit to get his phone out, to take a photo, film even, but the engine on the car stopped and the phone crashed, it never recovered, necessitating an hour long replacement session in the store. In a few seconds the light withdrew, for a second or two he thought it might be a police helicopter, but it suddenly shot up leaving behind nothing but darkness, no hovering light chugging away, no noise, nothing.
Mr Yardley never said anything, he liked a quiet life, but every now and again he thought about it and his own words came back to him ‘If I were you mate, I would negotiate with them’ he had meant the parents but… well just who did Angus negotiate with?

© All rights reserved by Judith Gunn 2012

Year Nine

In a moment of idiocy I thought I would try and write one short story a month on the theme of teaching. Last month a Christmas ghost story, this month is inspired by the push by Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education) to “get rid off” bad teachers, but that begs the question what is a bad teacher?

She had prepared well for this lesson.  She had spent probably as much time planning it as she would teaching it, this was her new start, her attempt to interest and engage Year 9, to keep them so busy that they would not have time to misbehave.  She would be using ILT, the screen, she had the poem already set up for the smart board, she had a link document for the audio visual reading she had chosen, this time not by Richard Burton, but a reading by Jack Davenport whose credentials in Pirates of the Caribbean she thought would engage the class, after all if a swash buckling actor could read poetry maybe they could. She had print outs ready and timings rehearsed, she had a seating plan for names and some back up plans for discipline. It was a great poem, Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare, it contained humour, opposites, rhyme and metre all things that made a poem a poem at least as far as Year 9 was concerned. She had a created a system for marking up the text, she had coloured pens and she even had a descriptive scenario to set the scene. This time Janice Willows could not go wrong.

The Year 9 line up outside room 12 was ragged, to say the least, girls leaned contemptuously against the wall, surveying all that passed them with permanently enhanced sneer. They had a particular extension to that sneer when Janice walked by, this include looking her up and down, examining her flat no-ache shoes, warm tights, long flowing skirt, woolly jumper and greying longer hair, combined with the ultimate sin of virtually no make up and they looked at each other, they needed no words to convey they paralinguistic contempt for and she needed no telling that they thought this of her. Each and every teenage girl in Year 9 of course, was utterly convinced that their figure, their looks, sneaked in high heels, their hitched up skirts and their plastered on make up was the height of style and they would never, no never end up like Janice Willows! It never occurred to them to wonder how much they devalued themselves when they devalued their teacher, contempt was their currency.

The boys fought, they shoved each other with bags, called out the worst insults they could think of using every expletive they dare to dominate the corridor. Occasionally they would shove against the girls causing a reaction of complaints and should a teacher be unwise enough to intervene at this stage they would be greeted with a flurry of accusations and counter accusations.

Janice went to the door and tried the silent treatment. She stood before the closed door arms folded, waiting. The trick with this technique she had discovered was to pretend it had worked. The merest hint of settlement in the room or in the queue and that was her cue to announce they had behaved and let them in. She opened the door and they scrambled in, barging past her climbing over desks and knocking chairs flying, the traditional pairings took place, the traditional loners isolated themselves and the back row filled with boys leaning back on their chairs talking loudly. The girls never worried about being at the back of the room to talk, they talked anywhere, they could carry on a conversation about Justin Bieber right in front of the teacher’s desk and if Janice was impudent enough to suggest otherwise, they ignored her as if she wasn’t there, but not today – today would be different. Janice shivered how many times had she said that? After every terrible lesson, after every peer review, after every staff review, after every inspection, official or otherwise, “they” had lied to her in college, they had lied. They had told her that personality didn’t matter, they had said that if she just ticked these boxes she could be a good teacher, she didn’t need to be a performer, she didn’t need to be a stand up comic, she didn’t need to have a loud voice, or presence in the classroom, but she did, she needed all those things and she didn’t have one of them. All she had was a PhD in English poetry, a published book of poems and a love for subject – but that was not enough.

“Explain the lesson objectives” said the lesson plan. She logged on to her computer and pulled up a PowerPoint. She opened smart board and waited for it to open up, it was slow. Could she have got into the classroom earlier to do all this – no Maths had it and they always ran right to the last second. She waited while the computer lumbered into action. They were getting restless, one boy had already slipped off his chair, the front row girls now had their backs to her and were talking to the girls behind, someone threw a pencil. She decided to call the register. She used her strongest voice, trying to drop an octave to gain authority, rather than offer her rather little girl voice. ‘You sound funny miss’ someone called out. There was a giggle, she covered ‘Just a bit of sore throat – is Alex Williams here?’ no answer. She turned to the screen, the smart board had loaded. The power point animated before she had time to explain it, she should have taken the automatic transition off, but she dare not try now, even so she managed to stop it – she offered a quick introduction to the sonnet and then asked if anyone knew what a Shakespearean sonnet was. She had explained this three times already, but they glared at her ‘How would we know miss?’

‘Because I told you last lesson’

‘Don’t remember that miss, perhaps you thought you did.’ There was a snigger, Janice was aware of the rumour that persisted that she had early onset Alzheimer’s and therefore could be persuaded that she had forgotten everything. She used the pointer successfully and forced the slide on – it was going well, there was the explanation of a Shakespearean sonnet. ‘Why don’t you all write this down in your notes and then you’ll be able to remember.’ Some of them responded to that, there was nothing many of them liked better than copying down from the board. ‘Last year’s teacher was a good teacher’ she had been told earlier that year, ‘he put everything we needed to know on the board and we just copied it down, why don’t you do that?’

‘Because you don’t learn for yourself that way’

‘We don’t learn from you either’ they said and turned their backs. So she did her research on how to engage them, variety of tasks, change of pace and group work and this was a hazardous process. She wandered between the desks – some were copying neatly, the boys leaned forward and when she came close, they clumsily hid their phones. One said ‘I know what a Shakespearean sonnet is miss,’

‘What is it then?’

‘It’s a sonnet written by Shakespeare,’ shrieks of laughter.

‘It’s a bit more technical than that and it’s written on the board,’

‘That’s not right though miss,’ said one of the girls.

‘Oh – so what is right?

‘It’s 14 line poem divided into 8 and 6 and the last 6 lines present a completion of the argument proposed by the first 8 lines.’

‘That’s not a Shakespearean sonnet’

‘Yeah it’s not written by Shakespeare’ George felt his joke was brilliant he bore repeating. There was laughter again, some of the better behaved girls had finished copying and were beginning to talk, one boy was texting and Lynne was still insisting that Janice was wrong. She was reading it from her phone. ‘What you’re talking about is a Petrarchan sonnet, that’s a different format, Shakespeare wrote three verses of 4 lines and a 2 line couplet – that’s a Shakespearean sonnet. Was she asking too much? It was just one fact about Shakespeare and his sonnets? Was she pitching it too high? She saw Lynne switch off her phone under the desk. ‘So you were reading that from your phone then.’

‘No I just know it that’s all’ The phone had disappeared, one or two other people who had clearly been using their phones looked up when they heard the word, in case it was they who were being addressed. Phones were a two-edged sword, some teachers used them in class, got them to look things up, find word games, involve their learning with the web, others seemed able to ensure they were never used, spotting instantly when a student was online and threatening dire consequences if the phone was not put away. The school, expected all phones to be off, but few were confiscated for fear that they would be lost or damaged whilst in the care of the teacher, if you took one it had to go to the office and if you left the class….. Moreover parents complained if there child was out of communication for a second, phones, to a parent, were a sacred item, they were the price the parent paid to have protection. They invested the phone with supernatural powers, not just the power of communication, but the ability to protect the user from kidnap, assault and being run over.

A fight developed in the corner, George was making a challenge ‘Give it back you fucker’ screamed Brandon. The bag was launched into the air and sent flying into the back of Ellen’s head ‘Fuck you’ she screamed. The class erupted into sarcastic howls of derision. Janice acted quickly, she picked up the bag and took it to the front desk and placed it there. ‘You can pick it up on your way out’ she told George, ‘ as for that language any more of that and someone will be in detention.’

‘Who miss?’

‘Whoever swears.’

‘I can’t do detention’ Lynne announced ‘My Dad says it’s not allowed, it’s false imprisonment’

‘I think you’ll find he’s agreed to it in the Parents Charter’

‘Not my Dad, he wasn’t here’

‘Well let’s hope there will be no more swearing… Now here is the poem both on the board and on paper I’m going to hand it out, let you read it and then we are going to hear it read, by someone you’ll recognise.’

‘Who miss?’

‘Wait and see’

‘It’ll be someone she fancies,’ again – raucous laughter.

‘That’s enough,’ but this time she was not loud enough. They scrabbled for the printed poems and began to draw on them, a penis appeared on George’s as if by magic. She took it away and replaced it, she wanted to get back to the screen to run the audio, but they had spotted the coloured pencils ‘Can I have blue miss’ ‘Can I have green’ ‘Oy miss she took the last red’, like toddlers in a play group they argued over colours as if the prizes were invested with wealth. The plastic bag of pens was grabbed from her hand and passed round, there were squeals of protest as the colours ran out. ‘Right!’ she said, but no one listened “Right’ she said again but still no one listened. She wanted to stand before them with her arms folded and wait for silence but she plumped for getting the audio visual going in the hope that the dulcet tones of Jack Davenport and his recognisable form would settle them to listen, she pulled up the link document and clicked it. There was a lengthy pause, filled with mounting noise from the class. They scribbled on the poem, continued to argue over coloured pencils and Lynne grabbed Brandon’s bag of the desk which was passed back to him. The computer was slow, so she followed the bag. ‘I’ll have that back please, I said he could pick it up when he left’

‘I need my pen miss’ Brandon had united with George against a common enemy.

‘You have a pen there’ she pointed to the pen on his desk.

‘It doesn’t work miss’

‘Then take a pen out, and give me the bag.’ Very slowly Brandon began to hunt for a pretend pen. ‘Miss you need to update flash’ someone volunteered

‘What?’

‘It won’t play if you haven’t upgraded.’ Her perfectly set up link, was there, the web page revealed and a blank screen greeted her with ‘Update to the new version of Flash’ written on the screen. ‘You just need to click that link’

‘I can’t’ she said ‘It won’t work’

‘Yes it will’ George was up put of his seat

‘George no’ He barged past her and clicked the link it began to work and then the phrase came up ‘You are not the administrator’ you need to contact the demonstrator’  ‘Aw fuck miss’

‘George’

‘Now we can’t learn anything’

‘He swore miss, you said detention!’

‘George, you do not use that language in my class! I will see you at break time for 5 minutes’

‘But miss I wasn’t swearing at you!’

‘I said no more bad language and I meant it.’ The issue of discipline was raising its head, George made his way back to his desk sulking, he pulled a girl’s folder onto the floor, spreading papers everywhere. ‘Pick that up George!’ but he ignored her and flopped back on his chair glowering. ‘We can learn,’ she said, barely heard above the uproar ‘We can learn, always’ She typed the search terms in again, there had been another site, maybe she could use that , the links came up she clicked one – disaster “Banned words found” the class erupted ‘Whoa miss you went on a banned site, what is it miss child porn.’ shrieks of laughter ‘You said not to swear miss!’ The class banged on the desks as it congratulated itself on the quality of its cutting wit. She gave up on the internet, it was a poetry site, Phillip Larkin featured, plenty of banned words there. She pulled up the smart board copy and turned to the class, but the boys were making paper darts out of the paper, George, after all had announced that they could learn no more and was in no mood to cooperate. She tried the silent approach, she stood before the class, arms folded, silent, waiting, waiting, waiting, but they saw this as surrender and they did not care if they learnt nothing that day, they would complain to their parents soon enough and she would be told it was her fault, the fact they didn’t listen, that they swore, that they despised her, that was all down to her, it was all down to her not being able to amuse, engage or educate a class of Year 9s who did not want to be educated. The door opened, the tall young Head of Year 9 was at the door, his presence in a classroom was unmistakable, ‘everything all right here Mrs Willows?’ he asked.

‘I’ve had a problem with the computer Mr Simmonds, I ‘m just waiting for them to settle down.’

‘She went on a banned site sir’

”Quiet Brandon, if I want you to speak I will ask you.’ He followed this up with a Mr Simmonds glare. Mr Simmonds was capable of turning red from the neck up, in a pure imitation of dangerous, barely controlled rage. He could instil fear with a simple curl of his lip, he could make his neck turn purple but it was all a trick as soon as the miscreant student had gone, he would grin from ear to ear and remark on how easy it was to fool them. Easy for him maybe: he had height; a deep voice; a real presence; the hint that he could follow through any threat, that he could outpace any of them physically. He had humour and charm and the girls could be slain by one look from him. He stood at the desk next to Janice, he leaned back in a relaxed fashion his hands resting on the desk. He waited, he waited for no less than ten seconds and the class were quiet. ‘You can read a poem without a computer’ he said. ‘Get on with your work’. He glanced at Janice and raised an eyebrow, she remembered something he once said ‘Don’t fold your arms, it’s defensive, they sense it.’ She dropped her arms to her sides, he smiled. ‘That’s better’ he said and she was unsure whether it was her or the class he was talking to.’

Peace, perfect peace, they began to read. She gave them a moment and then moved the PowerPoint slide on. ‘Just write a little bit about what you think it’s about.’ Perhaps it would have worked had a phone not rung, it was George’s ‘Tell him to turn it off miss,’ ‘He shouldn’t answer it!’ ‘ Miss that’s not fair’ Janice went and stood in front of him. She put out her hand for the phone. ‘It’s for you anyway,’ he said and handed it to her. She raised it to her ear, she could hear nothing at first and then heavy breathing, the breathing grew heavier. She was confused, ‘Hello’ she ventured.

‘Hello darlin” came a breathy lascivious reply. She knew it was a trick, she shut the phone down, outside the door to the classroom there was a scuffle, she ran to it to open the door just in time to see three older boys running off. The class roared with laughter, tears pricked at the back of her eyes. She had this lesson, this great lesson prepared. She had this love of poetry, she could write, she could explain, she wasn’t even that stupid with the IT but there was always something, something that she hadn’t anticipated. She didn’t have a loud voice or height, or a great presence, she could not sing, her sense of humour was not witty or quick. She had not desire to be bitchy or sarcastic, she just wanted to do her job, one she could do if she were afforded the luxury of one hour of silence. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, she was barely aware of what was around her. She knew she should not cry, but she also knew she had had enough, as had the school. ‘Mrs Willows?  Mrs Willows?’ a voice said. It was Mr Simmonds she looked at him helplessly ‘I’ll take over now’ he said gently ‘you go and get a cup of coffee.’ She looked towards the door, now, instead of three truanting boys she could see the Headmaster, she was to have coffee with him. This would be her last staff review. She was to be “got rid off” one of the much vaunted useless teachers. She couldn’t do it, she knew that, but she didn’t know why. It was all prepared, every box ticked, all the timings set, a work sheet that they could all have been getting on with was in front of them even now, there would have been a great bit of pair work where the students would read the opposing lines – other teachers just sat and talked and the pupils listened, but not her, the never did that for her. The tears started again while Mr Simmonds took the class ‘Phones away, hands on desks – you have 5 seconds to comply or this teacher will destroy you!’ Janice picked up her lesson plan and her data stick and walked slowly past the front row of desks, as she did so, one pupil, Connor, turned his notebook to her so that she could see. She was expecting “Fuck Off” or a penis or a cartoon of her in tears. Instead she saw the sheet she had given out, the poem, each question on the sheet had been answered. The poem had been highlighted, some terminology had been applied and finally there was a smiley face. ‘It’s a good poem miss I like it.’

© All rights reserved by Judith Gunn 2012

Click on the image for a link to The Angelmaker ebook  by Judith Gunn.

© All rights reserved by Judith Gunn 2012