Fortnight of Flash Entry #2 – Let it Fade. Fiction – And what a fiction, a real whopper.
Day two of my attempt to write a piece of flash fiction, everyday, for the next ten days.
Let it Fade
Take some time off. Hire a sub, they’ll pay for it. Talk it over. Sit back and have it out with some kind of hot beverage. That’s the way the pros do it, therapists, mediators. Parts of life, traits that no one wants to deal with, that’s why you are here.
The person across from you is not a therapist, though you’d be forgiven for expecting this. This is your administrator, and you are a teacher. This person, who has the eyes of patience, something inside of those eyes in hers says undivided attention, her eyes say I got into education for the right reasons and so did you and that’s why we are both here in this office.
She says “It’s not that you aren’t a good teacher.”
She says “It’s that I don’t know if I ever saw what I saw on Tuesday.”
Tuesday, the observation, the day after doomsday, the day after your father died. And you still can’t tell anyone, except for your wife, and she has no idea how hard you are taking this. You need to be strong, you tell yourself, you need to be strong for your wife and kids, they need to see someone emotionally stable, because your father was not.
Your father had episodes, he had breakdowns, but you, lately you’ve been on planet ten. It started when your father got ill, it started when you knew it was the end, it went on for weeks, it was drawn out and painful, and by the end, your father didn’t know who you or anyone else was. This was a relief, but you can’t help but see the same thing happening to you, short-term or long term, genes are genes and this instability is right on the tip of your tongue. With your Dad gone, you’ve reached the border: your kids’ faces and your own stability, right on the edge.
She says “My observation on Tuesday.”
She says “You sat there with your hands folded the whole time.”
“The bell rang, you said nothing, did nothing, stared straight at your computer, just nodded your head, no lesson plan nothing.”
She says, “I’m not here to fire you.”
She says, “I’m here to help.”
This is where your father would lose it, disappear and not return for weeks, but you, you’ve got a better idea, you can take a mental vacation, there is support there is the threat of losing your job, but then, that’s the thing, you don’t really care about anything except your family, not anymore, it’s about giving up one kind of stability for another.
You tried to go on teaching, you did. The first day after, you assigned some project that couldn’t be finished until the last day. You assigned a novel, to be worked on, in class, everyday for the rest of the term. Forget the standards, forget a five paragraph essay.
They wanted a long term project. You called their bluff. You’d ride it out, sit out the rest of the school year, collecting the novels at the end of the year, but until then, you were on vacation. No attendance, no lesson plans. No help or words of encouragement. Just black permanent marker on a white board. Go ahead try to wipe it off, it’s permanent. The best you can do is let it fade.
“I’ll be honest with you” you say, “I’m going to need some time off.”