Anna Lear. Teaching the Dead.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Pt 1. Anna struggles to teach her pupils. (Based on a true story.)

Submitted: April 28, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 28, 2013




Anna Lear:

"Teaching the Dead"

She was shuffled in with the students. She looked around the hallowed halls, eagerly seeking the room into which she was placed. She had been to the room before with the principal. But now, she would be heading there alone.

A bell rang, and a sea of frantic students—hurrying to beat the onslaught of closing doors—shot past her with blind determination. One of the tardy students, tall—just like most of the children at the school—and significantly robust rammed into her shoulder; her book—all of her papers—her pen—went flying this way and that.

After the last, solemn sheet of lined paper wafted down through the air, she took one portly sigh and knelt down to pick everything up.

“I’ll help you—“

She looked up, a bit surprised, and nodded her head in approval. He was also a student… wasn’t he? His dark brown hair was brushed back into a sea of generous waves. And his eyes, sure and determined, swam across her face and immediately focused upon the small mess cluttered about the tiny girl who knelt before him.

“Yes, thank you,” she said relieved and brushed a lock of burnt-sienna curls back behind an ear.

There was no small talk during the gathering of materials, but once they stood to make the exchange, eager tongues flicked into action.

“So, where ya headed?”

“To my class,” she responded with a shy smile. “Obviously—“

“Yea, obviously—” He replied, smiling wryly at the prospect of a witty, new student. “Which class, if I may ask?”

“Oh, um—well, I was told that it used to be Mr. Daniel’s class—”

“Right… him—” he paused and clasped four fingers over his mouth.

“Yes… him.” she replied, a look of definite confusion painted across her face. “Why’d you say it like that—?”

“So what’s your name?”

Taken aback by the conspicuous refusal to answer her previous question, the girl paused and thought of an appropriate way to present herself.

“My name—my name is Ms. Lear.”

She smiled confidently, and nodded her head at the student—the tall and willowy, well-mannered, dark-haired student—in front of her.

He smiled—almost laughed—but seemed to think better of it, and stuck out a steady hand. She took it, held it firmly for a second or so and quickly released.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Lear,” he said with a grin. “God, I can’t believe I thought you were a student!”

“Oh, heavens no… I couldn’t endure being in high school again.”

“Why couldn’t you? I’m sure you had the time of your life—and the guys… the guys must have been all over you.”

“However flattering you intended that to be,” she began, “it’s not my place to discuss my personal past with a student—“

He could no longer hold his composure. The young man threw his head back and opened his mouth. What followed shook Ms. Lear’s poor, little nerves—for all of five, grueling seconds, he laughed heartily and desperately grabbed his chest, as if to beg his lungs to expand for the intake of more air.

“Now, I can be forgiven for my mistakes,” he said, wiping away a tiny stream of mist from his eye. “But you’ve got to be kidding me… Me! A student!”

“You’re telling me you’re not?”

He straightened his back and folded his arms over his chest, as if to mock her prior demeanor, and responded: “Heavens no.”

Ms. Lear stepped back and looked him over.  He sure was as tall as a full-grown man, whatever that meant these days; for, teenage boys nowadays were hitting growth spurts left and right.

Her eyes traced the determined fold of his arms; she caught sight of an angry vein throbbing violently within his forearm.

And from there, she traced the remainder of his sturdy chest and the available white of his neck until her eyes fell, very thoughtfully, upon his face.

She hadn’t gotten a good look at him until now; and the longer she observed the more clear it became that he was telling no lie.

His sharp jaw, aligned strongly with his square chin, gave the appearance that he was currently clenching his back row of teeth together. His skin was noticeably pale, and he had a shallow pool of slightly greyish skin underneath his bright, bright eyes.

He smiled—a wrinkle of confidence creased into his strong cheek—and awaited her judgment.

“I… apologize—”

“Don’t worry about it. I must admit though, I’ve never got that from anyone else at this school.”

“I guess I didn’t get a good look at you,” she said with a coy smile. “So, what’s your name?”

The gentleman cleared his throat and unfolded his arms. He put one hand square in the middle of his chest and introduced himself.

“I am Niccolai Smith—10th Grade History.”

“Niccolai… Smith?”

“I know, but I’m sure you know the saying don’t judge a book… blah, blah blah—”

“Yes, but I’d at least enjoy an explanation of how those two unlikely names came into your possession.”

“Alright—in the meantime, how about you let me walk you to class?”

Ms. Lear held an arm out, palm upward, and encouraged him to lead the way. As they walked, Niccolai explained how his mother enjoyed Russian culture and though she knew little of her own origin, decided to give him a name befitting of her obvious fixation.

“So, you’re not Russian—?”

“Not even a little bit,” he said with a solemn smile. “I’m sure my last name gave that away.”

 “It gave way to suspicion,” she said with a small grin. “I think this is it.”

He paused and looked up at the room number. “Yep, this is definitely it.”

“Thanks for helping me find it.”

“No problem.”

She reached for the knob and pushed, but found that the door wouldn’t open—

“Shoot… I think it’s locked.”

“Let me see?”

She moved out of the way, and Niccolai confidently grasped the knob and pushed. The door wouldn’t budge. He gathered more strength and pushed once more, and the door, crackling and screeching, swung open.

“The door gets stuck sometimes—”

“How great,” she said, shaking her head. “Thank you.”

“One more thing—seeing as how you know my entire name and all…” his voice trailed off.

Minutely, Ms. Lear looked away then met his face with a gentle smile.

“My name is Anna—Ms. Anna Lear.”

© Copyright 2019 Jennifer Brighton. All rights reserved.

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