AN IMPORTANT MEAL
I love kids. They make great hood ornaments. No. Stop that. Be good. Be nice. Okay. I’m back in control. That was a terrible thing to say. It was mean and sick and nasty. Not like me at all. I don’t know where it came from.
Yes, I do.
But it won’t happen again. I’m a teacher. And a scientist. I can control myself. I’m a trained, professional teacher. Miss Clevis. That’s what the students call me. That’s what it says on the door to my room. My whole name is Jackie Jean Clevis. I teach science at Washington Irving Elementary School in Lewington.
But something funny happened to me this morning. I was making breakfast. And I was getting a batch of chemicals ready to take to class for an experiment. Be very careful with chemicals. That’s the first thing I tell the students. I was also listening to the news on the radio, and I was thinking about the science fair, and I was looking out the window at some lovely nimbus clouds. The science fair is scheduled for next weekend, and I’m in charge. Which makes sense, since I’m the science teacher. It’s a lot of work, and it’s very important.
So, between breakfast and the experiment, and the radio and the science fair and the clouds, it wouldn’t have been impossible for me to accidentally put the wrong ingredients in the blender when I made my banana-honey-yogurt morning breakfast drink.
I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. I don’t usually pass out right after breakfast. I don’t usually pass out at all. But one moment I was drinking my drink and tuning the station on the radio, and staring out the window. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor, surrounded by broken pieces of my drinking glass. I didn’t even remember hitting the floor.
I sat on the floor for a minute, trying to see whether I’d bruised or broken anything besides the glass. But everything seemed fine. Then I noticed the clock. Oh, dear. I was late for school. I’d been lying there for at least ten minutes. I grabbed the chemicals, put them in a box, got my briefcase, and rushed out the door.
As I tossed everything in my car, I thought about what had just happened. There were so many possible explanations, it was pointless to try to guess the right one. As long as it didn’t happen again, I wasn’t going to worry. I had other things on my mind. I felt fine now. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel of my car. Safety first, I always say. In the lab or on the road, safety has to come first.
At the corner by the stop sign at Maynard and Brockton, I got stuck behind someone who took a long time making a left turn. I didn’t mind waiting. But some idiot started honking his horn. I looked behind me. There was nobody there. Who was honking? The sound was getting very annoying. I looked down at my right hand. Oh my goodness. It was me who was banging on the horn. I hadn’t even realized I was doing anything.
I pulled my hand back. This wasn’t like me. I never use my horn. I’m very patient. You have to be patient to teach. Patient and caring and kind. I gripped the wheel very hard for the rest of the trip, just to make sure I didn’t use the horn again.
I got to school and parked in the teachers’ lot, then went up to my classroom on the second floor. “Hi, Jackie,” Mr. Rubinitski said as I walked down the hall. He teaches sixth grade. There are three sixth-grade teachers. They handle math and English and social studies. The kids switch around for the different subjects. But I do all the science classes.
“Good morning, Chester.” I smiled at him. We had a great staff at Why. That’s what we called it. We abbreviate Washington Irving Elementary to WIE, but we pronounce it Why. It’s sort of our own little private joke.
Where do you teach?
No, I asked where you teach.
I told you: Why.
We sort of stole the idea from an old comedy routine. We use it each year in a skit when we have our teachers’ lunch. And they say teachers don’t have a sense of humor.
I went into my room and put down the box of chemicals.
A sharp, slapping sound caused me to look across the room. There, hovering in a cloud, was a figure with a face as white as death. He let out an awful, gasping wheeze.
Copyright © 2012 by David Lubar