There was something calming, almost mind-numbing about writing almost-arbitrary marks on the top of students' tests. She hardly looked at them anymore, knowing that all parents are worried about was the final mark, the lie. They couldn't care less about the content. And the children? She wasn't stupid, she(more) heard their exclamations, the way they bragged about having got an older sibling to help.
She didn't care.
Her grip on the pen loosened slightly, and she let go completely to shake the cramp out of her hand. She had been holding the pen too tightly.
She wanted to blame the students for submitting so much work, but knew it wasn't their fault. It was all her.
He'd said as much that last day, told her it was all her fault they couldn't work anything out. She was the problem. She was his biggest mistake. She was a waste of time, just a little fire that gobbled up oxygen but was destined to do no more than burn out.
And hadn't her mother said the same thing years ago?
She let out a deep sigh and covered her face with her hands. If only that worked to shield her in the real world.
A gentle tug on her sleeve a few minutes later told her she had company. With a big smile that she hoped didn't seem too insincere, she turned to the student.
"Miss," he said, shuffling in his position and looking at the floor. His cheeks were a brilliant red. "I know it's your birthday, so I... I got-" he swallowed quickly. Then, looking her right in the eye, he said, "IgotyousomethingandIhopeyoulikeit," dropped the present on her desk, and ran out of the room.
They were chocolates.
There was a card.
His spelling was atrocious.
But he'd remembered.(less)