I remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. C. She was gray-haired and quite large with breasts that protruded quite protuberantly, held in place by the thick belt around her waste. Pink seemed to be her favorite color.
That this woman was intimidating is an understatement. The first day of class, she sat at her desk looking at the list of names of the new students in front of her. She loudly opened a drawer and slapped a rubber banded bundle of rulers on her desk before she laboriously hoisted herself up out of her chair.
Her feet splayed out and slid on the floor as she slowly walked up and down each aisle between the desks. He dress swayed side to side in time with the irritating sound of her shoes scraping the floor. That bundle of rulers slapped into her palm let us all know in unquestionable terms that it was a tool of business, and she would not be hesitant to use it.
Finally, she stopped behind one boy, Jimmy, who was sitting there as straight and still as we all were. Mrs. C, without warning, reached down in front of Jimmy with that bundle of rulers and smashed it across the knuckles of one of his hands laying on his desktop. The sound split through the silent air with a crack.
“I heard about you, Jimmy. I heard how much trouble you are. Not in my classroom. You won’t be trouble in my classroom!”
If the room was still before, it was deathly quiet now. And, it always was for that entire school year. She put me in a corner and continued like the teacher before her – she went to the next grade up and got the texts and workbooks for me to work on my own. I felt so relieved that I never had to answer her questions or participate in any of her lessons.
But, I didn’t escape her attempts at fun for her class. Square dancing was her thing, and she was competitive about it. There was to be a competition between classes for the best square dancing, and she wanted to win it. Fun, it wasn’t.
Joyce, a tall girl with long brown hair had worn to school a plaid skirt and black knee socks on this one particular day. As always, we were all nervously sitting at our desks, not looking around, and trying our best not to come under Mrs. C’s hateful glare. Joyce had already begun to squirm uncomfortably, waiting for the right moment to request permission to go to the bathroom.
Unfortunately, that moment didn’t present itself before square dancing time. Mrs. C had the old record player cranked up and howling out a scratchy square dance that was quite fast and jiggy. Not a third of the way into the song, the needle scratched across the grooves in a loud and horrible screech followed by a terrifying bellow.
“Joyce! What have you done?”
This time, no shoes scraped the floor, the dress didn’t sashay and there was no way to explain how Mrs. C got from the record player at the front of the room to standing next to Joyce, pinching the poor girl’s arm down to the bone. Joyce’s feet lifted off the floor as Mrs. C spun around to head toward the bathroom in the classroom’s back corner.
We were left standing where we stopped. All of our heads were down, holding our breath, staring at the small puddle of pee left on the floor where Joyce had been standing. No sound came from the bathroom, and we all feared that silence.
Would we ever see Joyce alive again?