The same chair. The same table. The same books. How long had this gone on for? James shifted against the creaking chair and looked at the people surrounding him. The Asian girl in front sat quietly with her back arched over the table, her right hand molded into claws that gripped her pen tightly. What was she going to copy? What would it matter in a decade? James wondered to himself. The girl hovered her hand over her note pad, waiting for a word. Waiting for a sentence to wake her from her pretense. James chuckled to himself. Oh how we act.
Miss goodwill stood in front of her class. A wrinkled hand on the hip and the other clutching a stick that she used to stab at her dusty chalkboard. The entire room was silent. Some bowed their heads in silent slumber while the rest stared at her with their empty eyes. Miss goodwill trudged on and began discussing Othello with herself. The irony of it all irked her. She had once loved her job. She had once taught with passion. She had once enjoyed this. But after her husband left her alone with her two boys, both not old enough to even feed themselves, she had crumbled. Miss goodwill's life had been a void ever since, a fracture in her soul so deep that she could no longer find joy in anything.
Her two kids. Every single morning, as their mother got ready for work, they would stand by her boney legs and grab at her dress. They would plead with their soft whimpering eyes for their mother to stay. They did not like the nanny. They wanted mommy. They wanted her. But always, they got pushed back gently with cold, firm hands. Mommy has to work. We need the money. And Miss goodwill would turn and walk out of the door. Ignoring the low cries of her two children as they stood watching their mother walk away. How long had this gone on for? She had no idea. The passion and flair that she used to teach with had all but evaporated. She blinked a tear out of her eye. Teaching had became a mere occupation to her. And that numbed her even more.
James rested his head on his arm. His head throbbed. Everything seemed dead, everyone seemed so static. He hated this. He hated this facade and wanted it to end now. The classroom imprisoned him from his dreams. He remembered how his father had flung his baseball bat against the wall, smashing it into bits. His baseball bat. The same one his father gave to him on his fifteenth birthday. He remembered going down on all fours to pick up the pieces, sobbing uncontrollably, hoping that once he had all the pieces he could somehow find some glue to piece them back together. His shivering hands reached for the tiny pieces as his father stood in front of him. Arms folded across the chest and glaring eyes that stared down at him. 'Son. I expect you to know what's right. Your grades are terrible and yet you spend your time hitting balls across the yard? Do not try me, the next thing that will break if your grades are not up is your neck.' And with that his father walked off. Leaving him bundled up on the floor, clutching his knees, crying and trembling amidst the broken shards of his bat.
He looked up from the desk to Miss goodwill. He tried to think why he was doing this again. He tried to find a reason to defend his father's actions. But he could find none. This is my life isn't it? Why cant I do the things I want? He thought of school as an obligation. A barrier to keep him away from his dreams, his hopes of becoming professional in baseball. The athletics society in his school was elitist in every way. Demanding perfection and slamming your face with the door if you had all but a tiny flaw. He was not that good with baseball but he loved it. He loved it with all his heart. And Isn't that enough? James looked out the window. The little box that had a quaint view of the garden below was guarded by a grill so rusty and so corroded that it seemed an insult to the beauty it was holding out. The fountain outside with the tiny cupid continued to spew water, continued to splash droplets of water all around. A vain attempt at spreading joy. A vain attempt at trying to make evanescent smiles. James dropped his eyes to his note pad and annotated Othello,
"Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday"
And with that, James laid his head onto his arm once more and waited for his dreams to fetch him to where he belonged.