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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A high school teacher and his taboo feelings.

My shoulders tense with anticipation the second I hear the ringing of the bell that signifies my destruction. As if conjured up by my thoughts, she walks through the doors of the classroom looking like the goddess of the moon.
She's the bane of my moral compass. With her short dark tresses, her bright eyes that shine with the ignorance of what she does to my mind, her body that calls my inner caveman to protect her at all costs.
Everything about her pulls my heartstrings. The way she smiles guiltily when I catch her speaking during class, the way she always greets me in a polite manner, her girlish behavior, her loud laugh when her friends humor her in a way I never could. She infected me from the smallest spot in my heart and now I'm engulfed by her. She has me wrapped around her tiny fingers and I willingly stay there. 
As usual she walks past my desk with a greeting and sits in the front row, just to shatter the last of my sanity. I return her greeting. My whole body buzzing with unreleased tension. I always prepare my heart not to give out whenever she's near me. She's my kryptonite and I'm ready to destroy myself just for scraps of her attention. Pathetic, right? That's what I've become.
The students start filling up the classroom and I start the most torturous class of the day. English. And the way she attentively gives me her attention makes me weep on the inside. I walk in the front, while we discuss the analysis of Sonnet 18. I try to keep away from her area, afraid someone might see the devil in me and call me out on it. So I successfully win another battle with myself today and do what I get paid to do—teach.
I set my file on my desk when the bell rings, signaling the end of class. The students leave the classroom but Elizabeth stays behind—slowly stacking the books in her arms. When she sees all the students filtered out she walks to my desk and stands there fidgety. Looking uncharacteristically nervous.
"Yes, Elizabeth?" I question her, to put us both out of our miseries.
"S-Sir, I don't think I'll be able to submit my assignment tomorrow." 
"Why not? This is unusual behavior coming from you, Elizabeth." 
Her trembling lower lip rips my heart into pieces. I almost give in and tell her to hand it in whenever she's ready. Unfortunately, for the both of us, I'm the teacher and apparently the new advocate for abolishing favoritism. I fucking hate myself right now. 
"I-I made a mistake... I wrote the assignment's submission date for n-next week in my p-planner. And I was so focused on my biology project that I—" 
Her eyes starts tearing up and my heart nearly gives in. Her doe eyes with that glimmer of tears breaks me. Talk about tramping on my already torn heart. 
Passing her a tissue from my desk, I say, "Okay. Don't cry. Since this isn't a usual occurrence from you, I'll give you an extended three days on the assignment." 
She smiles so brightly, I can't take my eyes off her. Fuck. I'd do anything to keep that smile on her face. It brightens up her face like a lamp in a dark room, it chases away the darkness in me. 
"Thank you so, so much, sir!" 
She jumps on the spot giddily. 
"I'll make sure to never let this happen again. I swear!" 
"Okay, okay. Now get to your next class," I reply nonchalantly. Already looking at the files on my desk. Trying not to make it obvious that I'm clearly obsessed with her. 
When she leaves the room. I heave out a strangled breath, my heart thumping in my chest. I lean back in my chair and shove my hand in my head, gripping the innocent strands, painfully. My whole body is buzzing from that unusual interaction. I close my eyes and try to calm myself down.
"Elizabeth. Sweet, sweet Elizabeth," I whisper, biting my lip to contain my grin. 
A loud thud at the entrance startles me and I immediately sit upright. I stare at wide-eyed Elizabeth who looks shell-shocked. I imagine we probably look identical at the moment. She opens her mouth multiple times to speak, but nothing comes out of her mouth.
"H-how long have you been there?" Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I'm fucked.
"I-I... M-My phone. I-I—" 
I turn my gaze and see her phone on her desk. I get up from my seat, lead in my mouth, and pick her phone up. I walk with it to her, trying to slightly hunch my shoulder so as to not come across as intimidating, considering I'm over a foot taller than her. Looking at her stumbling a step back, behind her books, that must have fallen from her arms, makes me think it had the opposite effect.
I bend down and grab her books from the floor, taking the second of not looking at her to get myself in order, for the societal hell that's about to follow our conversation. I stand up and hand her the books and phone. She wordlessly takes it from me, not making a move to leave or stay.
I make the decision for us and sit behind my desk and motion with my hand for her to sit in front me. She quickly grabs a chair and sits nervously in front of me.
"C-Considering you're not pretending I'm crazy. I assume, I heard what I heard. "
I get up without answering her and I feel her eyes on me. But today I don't feel happy about that. She probably, deservedly so, thinks of me as a pedophile, a predator, a pervert, a creep. And my gut twists at that. I can feel the bile rise up but I swallow it down. I need to take this one step at a time. So, I walk to the door and close it before walking back to my seat.
I can't bring myself to look at her, afraid to see the disgust in her eyes. To have her hate me is worse than her not acknowledging my existence. 
"Yes. I am infatuated with you. I-I do like you," I somehow manage to say. 
I swallow the lump in my throat. 
"I-I wasn't planning on doing anything about it," I clarify. 
My hands tremble as I continue. "You can do whatever you want with this news. I won't refute it in any way. I-I sincerely am sorry. You must feel disgusted. I mean you are fucking seventeen and I'm twenty nine—" I release a rough exhale, trying to contain myself.
I can't find it in me to continue. My heart and brain are working overtime and they both pull me in opposite directions.
I mean, it took me a while to stomach how fucked up I am. I can't imagine, to be the object of my feelings, how she must be feeling. 
When I raise my eyes to hers. She looks even more shocked. And she looks so uncomfortable, it breaks my spirit. I open my mouth to say anything to soften the blow but she abruptly gets up, ending whatever I was going to say.
"I have to go," she says hurriedly, and speeds out of the classroom before I have a chance to say anything more.
My heart sinks as I recall our interaction. I'll probably never see her again. I feel physically ill at the thought. I stand up on wobbly legs. I could feel my anxiety kick in. So I decide it's better to sit on the floor and regulate my breathing. I won't let the uncertainties effect me. Not now at least.
I call into the admin office and tell them I'll be leaving early as I'm not feeling well. 
I make my way home and immediately crash on the couch. The stress of the morning lulling me into a deep sleep.
When I wake, I see it's already dark out, and I feel a hundred times better. I decide to sit and strategize what my next steps should be. Nothing comes to mind besides speaking to Elizabeth. I need to first hear what she wants to do before I make any hasty decisions. Just thinking of talking to her causes a dull ache in my chest.
I walk into the school the next day with my dress pants and shirt pristine and ironed to the T, looking every bit calm and collected. Which is the exact opposite of the inferno raging in my heart. But I keep the facade up, like the trained adult I'd like to think I am.
I teach my classes throughout the day with as much energy as I can muster up. When my last class rolls around, I start feeling faint. 
Thank fuck I took my iron tablets this morning.
As usual she's the first one to walk in and be seated. But she doesn't greet me today, she doesn't look my way, she doesn't acknowledge my presence. I feel a punch to my gut and my mouth goes dry. My throat feels tight so I grab the bottle from my desk and down the water.
By the time the whole class rolls in, I feel less on edge and more calm. I begin the period and I feel like my mouth is moving on its own, I don't even know what I'm saying but the class ends without a hitch.
"Elizabeth Kelly, I'd like to speak to you once everyone leaves," I announce loud enough so the entire class can hear.
She looks up at me, the liveliness I've seen on her for the last year and a half, nowhere to be seen. She forces a smile and gives me a curt nod. Everyone leaves the class but she stays in her seat, so I take a chair and move it in front of her desk. I close the class door and make my way to sit in front of her. 
Once seated she looks at me and I can see the bags under her eyes. She looks tired and I wanna punch myself for causing her to looks so distraught. My heart pains that I've probably ruined her daily life. Now she knows the truth of how ugly the world is. How smartly evil disguises itself in innocence. 
She opens her mouth to speak and I see the tears roll down her pale cheeks. The last thing I wanted was to cause her grief. I've tainted her life now, her innocence, her unguarded smiles. Something I swore I'd never do. 
"Mr James, Sir, I-I wish I could forget what happened yesterday. I wish I could see you in the same way I've always seen you. I wish I wasn't b-bothered by you now—" a sob breaks through her. 
"I-I'm so, so s-sorry—" more tears.
"I wish I was more strong hearted and n-nonchalant. B-but I'm not—" 
She could hardly continue with the fountain of tears streaming down her face. My heart shatters into pieces. The pain takes my breath away. I hate seeing her in this state and on top of that, she's blaming herself. I wouldn't stand for ever making her feel the least bit inadequate. 
I allow the tears to stream down my face, and I lower my head to hide the emotions overwhelming my heart. 
She starts speaking again and I have to lift my head to stare at her. I have to see what I've done, how I've hurt the only one I've ever truly loved. I have to twist that knife in my heart. I deserve nothing less. 
"I-I beg of you. Try to keep away from me at all costs. I need time to adjust my thoughts. I know how kind you are, Sir, and how attentive you are. B-But I need you to pretend I don't exist. I need time to learn that you are not one of THOSE people. I am so s-sorry I'm not more adult than child."
I could hardly see her through the tears. This sweet, sweet girl. Her innocence and ignorance of man makes me love her more. I knew she'd never slander my name, she's too kind. She's the type to give the whole class chocolates on Valentine's Day, and she gifted me a fucking dolphin plush for my birthday. No one does that. She's too beautiful for this ugly world. 
"I understand. I promise to keep my distance," I manage to say through my choked up throat. 
"I am so sorry that I violated your safety. I was supposed to be your t-teacher. Someone you should feel protected by. I'm sorry I've corrupted the code of conduct. I'm sorry that you are disgusted by me. I'm sorry I couldn't help but feel for you. I'm sorry that seeing me will cause you pain. I hate that m-more than anything. I-I never meant to hurt you."
I get up from the chair and grab the tissues on the desk. I pass it to her. And I turn my back to her, pack my things into my case and leave the classroom without a second glance at her. The hallway is mostly clear as I make my way to my car. 
I somehow make my way home, without causing an accident. But I feel so faint, I barely make it through the front door before I collapse. My heart beat throbs in my ears, the room spins around me and before I can move to call my brother, I lose consciousness. 
I open my eyes with a throbbing headache. I feel for my phone in the dark. Once I find it, I dial Kevin's number. He picks up on the first ring. 
"Hello?" He answers on a yawn. 
"Can you come over?" I ask in a raspy voice. 
My eyelids flutter close, before I hear his answer. 
My body goes stiff and the shaking overtakes me. The last thing I hear is Kevin's yelling over the phone, before I lose consciousness. 
A coldness on my face wakes me. I open my eyelids to Kevin damping a cloth on my face. The same gray eyes I see everyday in the mirror, looking at me with concern. 
Our parents died in a plane crash when I was ten and he was seventeen. He's been there for me and looked after me ever since. Even now, he still treats me like a kid, sending me money, even though I'm a working adult with my own house. But  I know he does it because I've been his only family for the longest time, and I've always been a sick child, so the whole daddy behavior is understandable. 
"Hi," I manage to croak through my parched throat. 
He smiles down at me and grabs the tablet and water from the table. He feeds it to me and I'm grateful because I can't find the energy to grab the glass nor move. 
"I gave you Diazepam, for the anxiety and to relax your body." He puts the glass down and picks up the bowl next to it and starts feeding me the soup.
"What did you have to eat today?" He asks in that voice that's waiting to scold me. 
"I was late for work this morning... Well, yesterday morning," I mutter in response. 
"I didn't ask you that. Stop playing games," he says as he continues to feed me the vegetable soup concoction. 
"I had an oats bar," I say as I avert my gaze from his like a child getting scolded. 
"B-But I took my medication," I hurriedly add. 
He feeds me another spoon of the God-awful soup and heaves out a sigh. I feel guilty for worrying him. He had to leave his wife and newborn, in the middle of the night just for me. 
"I'm sorry you had to come over. I should've eaten properly this morning and taken care of myself." I look at him and he frowns at me. 
"You know I'd come for you no matter what. We are family, " he says and continues feeding me. 
After I finish the bowl, he takes his shoes off and lays on the bed next to me. 
"I'm going to sleep. When I wake up, I'll write a letter up. You're taking the rest of the week off. Doctor's orders." He says, as he gets under the blankets. 
"And we'll talk about what triggered the anxiety attack as well," he says giving me a pointed stare. 
"Don't you have a wife to get home to?" I question. 
"She knows I won't be home tonight. 'Cause I have a Lil brother to take care of," he says and ruffles my hair. 
If I had the energy I would shove his fat ass off my bed. So I settle for what I can. 
"Fuck off," I say and he just laughs at me and closes his eyes. 
He falls asleep instantly and I follow him. Allowing the haze of the tablet to lull me into a dreamless sleep. 
I wake at seven, feeling much calmer and relaxed than I've been in weeks. If you minus Kevin's snoring right next to me. I feel energized so I get up to phone the school. It goes to voice mail but I leave a message saying I won't be in for the rest of the week due to health reasons, and that I'll email them my sick certificate. 
I start on breakfast knowing Kevin probably has to leave in two hours, and he'd want to first discuss yesterday's episode before leaving. 
I make us two omelets and toast garlic rolls on the pan. I pour two glasses of juice then walk to the room to wake Kevin up. 
I message Joanne, Kevin's wife, while he's in the shower, informing her of my current condition. We went to college together and became best friends, so she's basically the sister I never had.
She worries about me as much as Kevin which is why I don't want Kevin telling her any nitty gritties of what led to yesterday's episode. She'll insist on visiting me everyday and cooking for me, and that is definitely not something I want happening. She can't cook for shit. I taught her how to fry an egg. So, no. I dont need to die from food poisoning. But of course I'll never tell her that. 
Kevin walks into the kitchen with my sweatpants and sweater on. Water dripping down his hair. Smelling like my aftershave. 
He walks past me and I slap his hand away before he thinks of even touching my head. 
"Someone's cranky this morning," he mutters as he takes a seat next to me by the kitchen aisle. 
I ignore him and continue to eat. I'm basically swallowing the food like water, with how ravenous I am. I don't even pay attention to Kevin's useless chatter next to me. I guess, skipping meals are not the best choices to make. 
"Elizabeth heard me call her name to myself in an empty classroom. Needless to say, there's no way I could camouflage it as innocent," I say as I wipe my mouth with the napkin on the table. 
Kevin says nothing and just stares at me. 
"She told me she wants me to pretend like she doesn't exist. I hate it. But I'll do it anyway."
I let out a sigh. 
"I guess I didn't know how to deal with the suddenness of everything so I came home and collapsed." 
He pats my back. He knows how much I care for her. For the past three months, I've spoken only about her. Even though I never said it out loud, I know he knows that I love her. 
"I'm sorry, man," he says as he ruffles my hair. 
"I know how much you adore her. But you are going to have to deal with this in a way that doesn't destroy one or both of you. She's a young girl. Innocent. She hasn't experienced life like you have yet. So don't get your hopes up. You never did anything worth losing your job, so there's not much anyone can do. But you don't want negative rumours associated to your name. But don't stress too much. I'm here for you, Lil bro."
"Thanks, Kev." 
"No problem, man. But remember to take the Diazepam. One tablet, at seven pm for five days. With your iron tablets in the morning, you'll need to pick up immune boosters at the chemist.  " 
He looks at his wristwatch and scarfs the rest of his omelet down and grabs his bags from my couch. 
"I'll check up on you tomorrow!" He yells as he runs out the front door. 
I sit in my chair, sorting through the students assignments. In about three minutes, Elizabeth is going to walk through that door and I need something to distract me from looking at her. Something to prevent me from begging her on my knees to return my affections.
I hear the door open and I don't look up. I know it's her. Her light footsteps. Her fresh, clean scent. The jiggle of the chain on her phone. I know it by heart.
My leg shakes underneath the table but I don't look up, I continue to grade the assignments like my life depends on it. She doesn't greet me. I don't greet her. I haven't seen her blue, doe eyes and heart-stopping smile in five days. But I can't look at her. No matter how much I want to.
More students enter and greet me, asking me how I am and I respond as though I'm in perfect condition. I am physically good but my heart is still shattered. But I keep that to myself, in a hidden chest deep in my heart.
"Okay, that's all for today," I say as we finish discussing the poems prepared for exams. 
"I just have one little announcement," I say, before I lose their attention. 
"Are you finally getting married, Sir James?" Brandon mocks, in a terrible English accent. 
The whole class laughs and I can't help but chuckle myself.
"I'm far too old for that," I jest. 
"But, no. You'll be having a new teacher next month, after exams," I announce. 
"What? Are you leaving the school?" Christina, my ace student, asks. 
"No. I'll be teaching the freshmen only and—" The bell rings, interrupting me. But I don't bother to keep them. They'll get the necessary information on a leaflet, soon.
"Have a good day," I say and start packing my files back in the bag. 
I grab my grading files and sling my bag on my shoulder. I turn around and nearly let all the files fall from my hand. 
Elizabeth stands a few feet in front of me, head lowered. Looking nervous. She clears her throat and looks me. 
"Do you need help carrying your files to the staff room, Mr James?" She asks in a quiet voice. 
It feels like it's been years since she spoke to me. My tongue feels heavy in my mouth but I force myself to not lose my composure. 
"No, thank you," I mutter under my breath. 
Not waiting to see her reaction, I walk out of the class like my life depends on it. When I get into the staff room, away from her, I feel like I can breathe again. Yet, I can't remember a time I've ever felt so lifeless.
The days that pass follow the same pattern. I teach, I avoid her, I come home, I eat, I sleep, I wake up, I jog, and I miss her. I miss her unadulterated inquisitive questions. Her voice. Her smile. Her laugh. Her energy. Her kindness. 
She's embedded in me. In my heart, my mind, my soul. The more I try to get her out, the stronger she infects me. She's a disease and I've come to terms with never being cured. 
Before I know it, the last day of the school term rolls around. And I'm a little less than ready to be only teaching the freshmen. Truthfully, I don't care who I end up teaching. But the fact that I won't be seeing Elizabeth every day, or just not being in her presence pains me. 
I put my best, composed teacher face on as I make my way to admin, to pick up my new schedule. I stop in my tracks as I see Elizabeth standing there with a few of her friends, laughing and talking in the way that I adore so much. She looks happier than ever. I haven't had a look at her for longer than three seconds in a month. And fuck. She's more beautiful than I remember. She shines brighter than anyone I've ever seen. 
The smile plastered on my face, falters and I know that I'll never be able to be so close to her without anyone sniffing my feelings out. So I take my old ass and hike it back to my class room. Mrs Eve can always email me the details during the holidays. 
I enter the classroom and clear the documents on my desk. Putting them in my briefcase. I look around the classroom. I definitely will miss teaching these little shits. They gave me a tough time but they are good humored children. 
I look at Elizabeth's desk and I make my way in front of it. I run my fingertips over the rough wood. Memories of her sitting in the seat, laughing, talking, making jokes, being herself, flows through my mind. 
The emotion, the heartbreak, the weight of it all brings me to my knees. I hold onto the front of her desk. My heart aching in my chest. How did I fuck this up so badly? Why did it have to be her? Why did my heart have to be hers?
A hand on my shoulder brings me out of my stupor. I look up and see Elizabeth's honeyed eyes looking at me. I flinch away from her touch. Fuck. Now she knows I'm no different from a pervert. Only I can manage to make this shit hole I'm in, shittier.
I stand up, avoiding eye contact with her and walk to my desk. I can't keep doing this, having hope for this tragedy. I grab my briefcase and laptop bag, swinging it over my shoulder. And do the thing my heart begs me not to, the right thing: I walk out of the classroom. Away from her, without looking back. 

Submitted: November 03, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Mia Adams. All rights reserved.

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