She sweeps the classroom door open with an imperious gesture that doesn't match her inner feelings of unease.
“In.” she commands, with a slight tilt of her head towards the waiting desks.
Five minutes later, thirty pairs of eyes are fixed on thirty sheets of paper and her fear disappears, only to return as she catches him staring at her, an unfathomable expression on his face.
'Pull yourself together. Why be afraid of a fourteen year old?'
But she is.
She roams the classroom, making a comment here, a correction there. She forces herself to stop in front of his desk.
“Get on with your work.” Her voice is louder than it needs to be.
“Yes Miss,” the boy murmurs, so quietly she can barely hear him.
He bends his head over his paper, a shock of yellow hair hiding his expression from her.
Her insides are churning like a live thing trying to escape the confines of her body. She sits down quickly. He knows, she is convinced. The boy knows she is a fake. Her tough exterior will be an easy shell to penetrate. Surely, she is on borrowed time. How long before he attempts to break that shell? Will he smash it in one piece or chisel it off, blow by blow? She gazes at the clock. When will this lesson end? How much more can she take without cracking? She is surprised she has managed to last this long without giving way. She thinks back. This is the longest she has survived without someone discovering her true self. Now it seems she will have to look for yet another job, jump before she is pushed.
She begins to shiver as he pushes back his chair and approaches her desk. This is it she decides, the moment of truth. He falters for a moment, and stares, wide-eyed, at her. After what seems an eternity, he simply grabs some paper and returns to his seat.
She knows then what his plan is. He is going to keep making her feel that a confrontation is imminent, then he is going to back off. Will her nerve crack before he tires of that game, or will he say something to her that will prove to his classmates what he already knows, that she can't handle them? They are a most unruly class and if they sense weakness, she will be helpless. The jailer has become the prisoner. What was once a pleasant lesson has become a weekly nightmare. She watches the hands crawl round the clock. A minute or two before the bell is due to ring he approaches her but, as he opens his mouth to say something, the lesson change signals.
“It doesn't matter,” he says, and turns away to pack up his things.
He is the last out of the door, and as she moves to close it behind him he turns back and stares at her for what seems like forever before she looks away and shuts the door. She sits down, shaking. Another lesson over, only one more to get through before she reaches the safety of home, but it's too much, she can't do it.
He hates this lesson. There is something not quite right about this new teacher, although no one else has noticed anything yet. As usual, she has them all working hard and silently within minutes of the lesson starting; but his pen soon slips out of his hand in favour of his daydreams. He isn't here in this stuffy classroom any more. He is a seagull flying high in the sky, soaring above everyone else...
His flight of fancy is shattered when a harsh voice breaks into his thoughts. It's her. He blushes, realising he must have been staring at her. She speaks a few sharp words to him and he bends his head in a posture of obedience.
When she moves away, he decides to draw his daydream. She won't notice, and anyway it's what he's good at, unlike all this other pointless stuff. He searches his folder but can find no paper so he leaves his place to get a piece from her desk. As he draws closer he stops suddenly, unable to stop himself from staring. There is definitely something wrong with her. She is pale and wild-eyed and, although it is a hot day and beads of sweat crowd her forehead, she has goosebumps over her arms. He tears his eyes away and sits down with his paper. He thinks of her for a few moments but then his desire to draw overtakes him and he has to get his ideas onto paper. It's not right though, he scrunches it up and heads for more paper, but then notices the time. Only a few minutes left.
“It doesn't matter,” he tells her.
He thinks she looks at him rather oddly but decides he's imagining it. Anyway, who cares? It's time to leave, thank goodness.
As usual, he's last out of the classroom. She follows him to the door and he looks back at her. She looks scared. She turns away and shuts the door.
For a brief moment he wonders if he should tell someone. But tell who? And tell what? Anyway, it's time for Art, his favourite lesson of the week. He forgets her as he heads for the one hour a week he really enjoys.
No- one saw the crumpled drawing of a seagull that she'd clutched as she jumped. It became dislodged and the wind soon stole it, where it soared, free.
Constructive criticism very welcome.