Thursday, December 16, 2004

yes or no: a love note

“Will you go with me? Yes or No (circle one).” Elsie printed each letter carefully, positing her question at the center of a piece of lined loose leaf and framing it with alternating hearts and moons. She then set about folding and tucking the note into a palm-sized triangle, working discreetly behind the algebra textbook open on her desk and lifting her head from time to time to glance at the equation Ms. Hechmer was scratching onto the blackboard. The folding complete, she wrote “To Jeff” in small letters on one side and “From Elsie” on the other. Tipping her chair back slightly, she looked around her immediate neighbor to the left and motioned subtly to Amanda, seated two desks down. Thankfully, Amanda was quick to look up and catch on. A moment later she was reaching for the paper triangle tossed deftly, close the ground, arriving inches from her targeted turquoise Converse.

And then, a dreaded thing happened.

Ms. Hechmer’s pudgy hand seemed to swoop down out of nowhere, thwarting the handoff, devouring the note, and disappearing in the folds of a pink suit dress. Now, this might have been merely humiliating had it occurred with any of Elsie’s other teachers (particularly with Elsie being the grade-A, teacher’s pet kind of student she was). But Ms. Hechmer was a screamer. The terror of the sixth grade. And this unforeseen course of events was positively mortifying.

All angry huffs and frizzy curls and breasts that seemed impossibly bulbous, Ms. Hechmer stomped and stamped to the front of the classroom, yanked the intercepted document from her pocket, and gave it a two-second read. As her head lifted and her gaze trained in on Elsie, the eyes of Elsie’s classmates followed. Elsie, and Elsie alone, suddenly developed a keen fascination with what was happening on page 42 of the textbook. But even as her head bent lower in studious attention, burning heat rose from cheeks to crown, and the numbers before her blurred and merged.

“Well, I suppose,” the pink pillar of fury bellowed with barely concealed pleasure, “that some of you think this lesson is easy. That some of you can find other things to do while I stand here trying to teach.” Her normally loud voice growing more thunderous with each syllable—with each half-syllable even—the entire class cowered in fear, terrified of the wrath and homework load that were certain to follow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you come up with the name Ms. Hechmer?

May 12, 2006 at 10:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home