Miss Edwards

They sat at their usual places, behind their usual desks, and waited. It was cold and the sun weakly penetrated the windows, but only just, and then it only warmed those who sat on the window side of the room. They didn’t care about the sun. They weren’t thinking about warmth. They wore their jumpers and they sat and waited, amongst all the others who were sitting and waiting, and most of the others talked and made inane noise and seemingly attempted to outdo each other in making an unnecessary spectacle. But they didn’t take part in the silliness and the immaturity. They were better than that.

They looked at their poetry books – the class was reading poetry at the time – and they examined the notes made yesterday in the margins, and they read over the poem from yesterday too, and began looking at the one scheduled for today. They always prepared. They were always serious and ready to absorb as much as they could from the class, when she arrived. She wanted attention and she wanted interest. They would have given her much more than that, if she had asked for it. She walked through the desks as she taught, reading aloud, asking boys to read aloud, to pick up from where she left off, and she would ask questions too. Unexpected questions. Questions of interpretation. Opinions concerning grammar and figures of speech and juxtaposition. (Some of the chattering class members didn’t know what juxtaposition meant, but they knew.) They had to be ready with an answer to the question why: why is it written like that, what does it mean, and why do you say that?

And so they were ready. They followed her as she walked. While she was reading they looked at her, followed her with their eyes, took all of her in, head to foot, absorbed into their minds. They watched the way she moved her lips, how the expression on her face changed when she emphasised some words over others, her icy blonde hair, they watched her walk. She would tell the class to follow in their books, and so they looked down at the text when a boy was reading, as she would know she was being watched then, and they didn’t want her angry, that wasn’t what it was about at all. She had become annoyed, a couple of times, with one of the chattering morons who had no ear for poetry and hadn’t yet discovered feminine charm, and when this happened it was exciting: her face went red, especially around the top of the neck, and she made a fist with her right hand, she spoke in an animated manner, and a film of spit appeared, joining her top and bottom teeth. They were glad when the offending moron had been sent out of class and she could regain some kind of equilibrium. They liked her best when she was calm and cool and elevated above the messiness of Year 9 English.

She appeared at the door and said good morning to the class and some of them said good morning to her. Chatter recommenced among the philistines. She walked to the desk at the front of the room, shoulders back, looking straight ahead, black sweater matching a charcoal skirt, which finished above the knee, and put down her folders and books. She seemed distracted. She told the class that this would be her last lesson with them. She was leaving, moving away to another school. The chattering ceased. All was silence. The whole group was gripped by a sudden shock.

Miss Edwards had more fans than just the aesthetes, after all.

Published in: on December 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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