I have a loose title for this, but I'm pretty sure I know where I'm going with this one - crtique appretiated
Jonathan Hill was daydreaming again. Head propped between two elbows, his nail-bitten fingers were lost in thick, tousled brown hair. A long, clear line of saliva streaked from the corner of his parted lips like a thick thread of silk and began to pool on the antiquated desk in front of him. It was a good flow, and covered the recently scribbled ‘tim k. iz bent’ in red biro. It was in fact, more than halfway across a much older and faded phallic symbol that had long been etched into the battered wood. His green eyes – usually bright and alert – had assumed a tell-tale glaze.
Kerry McGilvary surveyed the desk and grimaced. She had recently fantasised about kissing that mouth, and it was more than a little disconcerting to see its contents leaking so freely. She tried to concentrate on the rapidly-filling blackboard, but found to her annoyance that she was compelled to keep a check on the pool of saliva. It covered the phallic representation completely now, and was creeping steadily towards the corner of Jonathan’s exercise book. Subconsciously, she had begun to wonder whether the book would have a blotting effect, and draw all the moisture out of him completely.
Barry Steggles let out a poorly-suppressed snigger and Kerry checked herself, blinking hard at the board, before again returning her gaze to the soggy desk.
Even from his relegated vantage point at the back of the classroom, Barry knew that his best friend was comatose again, and his chubby face gleefully revealed two deep dimples. He had been moved from his usual place next to Jonathan three days ago for waving the ‘V’ sign not an inch from his vacant face during a similar episode. Now he languished at the back of the room, with only the hunched back of his friend to look at.
A few children turned to look at Barry – he sniggered regularly, and was quite distinctive. A snigger or guffaw from Barry usually meant there was something else to distract the class – a fact not lost on Mrs Kaufman.
Jonathan’s vegatative state was shattered by a furious bark.
While suddenly aware of his surroundings – Jonathan was still making the slow swim back to consciousness when the large head of his teacher appeared above him.
Mrs Kauffman was in her early fifties – with short, determinedly curled, jet black hair – dyed to cover what was undoubtedly iron grey.
Her dark brown eyes burned almost black when her temper flared, and right now those eyes flashed at him as two small black coals – mean and determined. The greasy turquoise eyeshadow and pale pink lipstick smeared over taut, angry lips combined with two temper-induced flushed cheeks and fine broken veins on her nose to complete a face almost mask-like in it’s garishness.
“Well!” She exclaimed theatrically. “I wonder where Jonathan Hill was this time?” A muted ripple of giggles, grunts and sniggers dutifully followed as the boy felt with his parched tongue around his mouth, ears beginning to ring with embarrassment.
“Wherever it was, it certainly wasn’t here learning with the rest of the class – was it?” She bawled the words ‘certainly’ and ‘learning’ out a full octave lower than the others in a well practiced piece of condescension.
Jonathan involuntarily focused on her ample breasts – and noticed that her left breast was at least an inch higher than her right, as well as appearing slightly smaller. He made a mental note, before his ears were assaulted further.
“Are you listening to me? – Are you boy? Are You?” She screeched, her distain quickly moving aside for open contempt.
“On your feet!” she ordered – and Jonathan drew himself up, resigned to more humiliation. “Turn around, boy – turn around! Let the class take a good long look at you.” She spun an index finger around a few times, to indicate her wishes.
Jonathan fought with himself but turned, and felt 27
pairs of eyes considering him – some with undisguised glee, others with a muted derision – some just thankful it wasn’t them.
Kerry just looked sorry for him, and Jonathan couldn’t work out if that was worse than if she’d been glaring in contempt just like the old bag.
“This,” the old bag began again, taking on a new tone; “is what happens when you stay up late, watching television.” She delivered the last two words like they were describing a grisly murder or deviant sex act, and swept a sad look from Jonathan across the classroom.
Tutting gently and shaking her head slightly in mock resignation, she pulled out a small footstall from under her desk. Expertly kicking it to with 6 inches of the blackboard, she pointed a brightly painted nail in its direction.
“You’d better sit there – so I can nudge you.”
Another dutiful round of sniggers, and the boy forced himself to sit down as slowly and deliberately as he could. It was pointless, of course. He could bring no dignity to it, and would have to suffer for the rest of the lesson, perched like Mrs Kaufman’s little pet human.
Kaufman knew all about shame. She considered it her most useful weapon against unruly, disruptive and lazy pupils. It always worked, and although Hill was a slow learner with an extra thick hide, plenty of shame would bring him underfoot.
She only allowed him off the stool once the entire class had filed past him at the end of the lesson. She gave her consent with a stately nod, and Jonathan rose. She let him get to the door.
“Hill.” He turned.
“Miss?” She gave another steely glare.
“Never sleep in my lesson again.” She meant it. Jonathan nodded once.
“Tough one Batman!” drawled Barry in his best American accent, slapping his friend across the back in genuine empathy. It was actually more of a Belfast-via-Bombay accent, but was enough for Jonathan to recognise that it was disguising Barry’s own guilt at sniggering.
“Yeah – nice one – thanks for nothing.”
Barry licked his lips nervously. He knew it would be a while until Jonathan forgave him, and decided to distract them both.
“I GOT it!” he enthused to Jonathan, as he bounced alongside him.
Jonathan didn’t really care, but talking was a good distraction, and meant he could pretend not to hear he comments being shouted at him from across the school yard by a couple of scruffy kids.
“IT!” Barry repeated, eyes gleaming. “That nudie book from lost property!”
Jonathan stopped in mid-trudge. ‘that nudie book’ was a school myth that had been perpetuated at least since the boys started Juniors.
“Right. And when did you manage that?”
Barry thought about it. “Last thing yesterday after my detention!” Jonathan’s eyes narrowed. Barry had been given a detention for being overheard singing the rude version of Blue Peter to some year 7’s, but still.
“What’s in it then?”
Barry switched from insistent to grave in a split second. Leaning close into his friends personal space, he whispered, ”Everything, mate.”
Jonathan was about to quiz him further in order to catch him out and proclaim him a liar, when Mr Knight bellowed. “Steggles! Here!”
Without looking up, Barry trotted over to the Head, who surveyed him grimly. “Failing to turn up to a detention, aye?”
Jonathan nodded to himself. Proof. Another Barry Bullshit. He turned on his heels, and made for the quieter end of the yard. Barry was obviously making life harder for himself, As Mr Knight’s Booming voice carried the name of his friend way beyond the confines of the school.
The quieter end of the yard was where the outcasts tended to hang out, and break times often found Jonathan and Barry amongst the more vulnerable type – kids who couldn’t read properly, or wet themselves sometimes. Kids who cried when they got shoved over, or wore glasses or smelt of stray dogs – and new kids.
There were two new kids by the water fountain right now. Jonathan recognised the girl – she had witnessed his crucifixion by Mrs Kaufman earlier, but she wasn’t English. She was Romanian or Hungarian or something, same as the tall boy next to her.
The boy had smirked at Jonathan as if he had been in the classroom too, and Jonathan wondered if perhaps the girl had relayed it all to him. After some sly glances at her, he decided she hadn’t. She didn’t seem to be enjoying the boy’s company. After a minute or so of the lanky kid’s smirking, he swaggered off to find someone else to grin at.