It was a bright sun, cool, but the sun made it feel warmer. The students looked towards me, but they looked through me. I was blurred at the front of the room.
I was not making any sounds that they could hear. On this day I would have to stand on my head.
I would have to draw funny pictures on the board. I would have to run in circles and do imitations. But nothing would work, of course. I knew that.
There was a beast in the room. They could feel it, and I could feel it. We all felt its lurking heaviness. It sat on top of us, crushing us with all its mangled metal and flashing red lights. We were smothering under its oil and gasoline and burning rubber.
I knew when I entered the classroom that the beast would be in there. I knew it was going to sit on us. I knew that there would be nothing the students nor I could do to defend against that horrible weight. I was foolishly angry at myself that I, their teacher, could not drive that horrible beast out of the room, that I could not save them from it–but the pervasive, somberness of the beast would overwhelm us. And it did.
“We’re not meeting today.”
When the room was empty, I looked again at her empty desk and told her I would miss her. Outside, the sun was graciously warm on my face. I walked with that old and worn bag of tricks clutched firmly in my hand. On most days, the tricks would still work.