One of my students pulled me aside in the hall today. With her mask on it was hard for me to understand her, so she pulled me into a classroom and said:
“Mr. Davis, I need your help. But first, you have to promise me something.”
I frowned. “Okay. Are you having trouble understanding the novel?”
She rolled her eyes as though I were the child asking a dumb question. “No—no, it’s not that. Just—will you promise me something?”
“Promise you what?”
“Promise…” she stepped back, “promise that you won’t kill Mr. McCleary.”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. I hate Mr. McCleary. He is my boss. He is a wretched turd. But kill him? I hadn’t thought about it. Well—not seriously.
“Jane, what is this about?”
“I promise I won’t kill Mr. McCleary, now what?”
“Well, so—I’ve been living this day over and over again for the past few years. Yes, like Groundhog Day. Only, I think I’ve figured a way out. I’ve helped everyone at this school except—well, you. And I think that, if I can figure out what would make your life better, I could do it and leave but—to be honest—you’re kind of a miserable piece of shit.”
“Hey! You can’t use language like that to me.”
She shrugged. “Well, technically, I am nineteen in now so I think I can—and I mean, really, I’ve tried. But you just get up, take a shit, come to work, leave, watch TV and go to bed. Nothing goes right or wrong and nothing cheers you up and—well, I’m not sure what to do next and I didn’t want to make you aware of it again because—well, what happens—but really, I’m out of options.”
She had started pacing about halfway through her speech, speaking faster and faster. As it ended, she sat.
“So…say I believe you—not saying I do, but if I become aware as you say—what exactly happens?” I asked.
She slouched—it was an act so mature and adult and not at all like the timid middle schooler I’d been teaching for the past three months. Well—,” she cringed “—once I convinced you that the day was really going to repeat, you went and pushed Mr. McCleary out of a window.”
“And” she cut me off, “the second time, you beat him to death with our literature textbook. Then, there was that time with the stapler, and—”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. The idea of it made me so giddy and excitable. I wasn’t totally convinced, but I found myself uncontrollably looking around the room for something new and interesting I could kill Mr. McCleary with. Jane sighed, shook her head, and walked to the window. She opened it, turned, and said, “I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Then, she threw herself out.
I picked up a chair, broke a leg off, and made my way toward Mr .McCleary’s room.
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