Unfortunately, I arrived home from work looking like this.
What happens over the Christmas break that drives memory and reason from the very souls of the young?
I can only compare my day to a stay at the wonderful home of this particular fellow.
Thunder rolled across the distant horizon, cracking the morning into the start of the week. He sat at his desk, the teacher’s desk, in his room, the teacher’s room, and listened to the creeping voices as they entered the ground of play. A high pitched insult shot across the open space and was met by an equally sharp response. The teacher, for the was what he thought he was, listened. He listened whilst trying to dampen the arrival of any reinforcements.
The classroom was out of time. He could have been in the 1970s or 1980s. He sat there looking at the dusty displays, contemplated his desk, soon to become a wasteland of paper, and breathed deeply.
‘Only temporary, only teaching,’ was his mantra.
This worked for some moments. It lasted for as long as it took the first of the feet to slap against the stairs. He listened to the encroaching voices, steps getting closer, talk getting louder.
Soon they would be at his door. They would wait out there chatting and screaming the insane exchanges of tiny parchments of their lives. Talk was war. Conversations were as the splutter of machine gun fire, the explosion of a gas cylinder, or the insane warble of a rabid wit.
In no time, he realised that the truce would not hold. Christmas was over and a new offensive was being launched. The snipers would now be well-fed and rested, their trigger fingers itching for exercise.
And there he was, at the front of the class, TEACHER written all over him.
Dear wife and children, the school is nice this time of year.
In a short while the heavy bombardment will begin.