Mrs. Daniels is really very pretty. This is what I am thinking a lot of the time. I believe that this is probably what most people are thinking a lot of the time: students, other faculty, the general public.
Today I think she is even more pretty when she is upset too, or maybe I think that she is more pretty selfishly because I know that the expression is all for me. I guess most people aren’t more pretty when they are upset, but their faces look more real. So when I come into class today and Mrs. Daniels immediately brings me out into the hallway I’m still kind of excited, a bit, because of the attention, even though I know what it’s about.
Her class is the last of the day and all of a sudden Green Bay’s been beautiful outside because it’s April and Wisconsin’s legs are finally opening up. Yesterday, while she went somewhere at the start of the period, I crawled out the window and left.
Mrs. Daniels is walking very fast down the hall so that my creative writing class can’t hear what she is going to say to me. She is wearing heels and a pencil skirt because she is young and cares about how she looks and the heels are very loud in the echo of the hallway. Eighth period has already started and so everything is empty. I follow her and my steps are following the beat of the clicks and I am watching her legs but I’m pretending to just look down because I don’t want her to think I’m not taking this seriously. I’m nervous because we both know what I did was mean and I’ve never seen her mad before and although it’s exciting I feel bad that she is upset. Mrs. Daniels is seven years older than me. That’s not that much. This is her first year teaching and I don’t like it when our roles are defined and it’s clear that she is in charge and I am 17 and we are not the same.
She pivots suddenly when we are out of view from the other students and there is a hispanic girl drinking from the bubbler and Mrs. Daniels waits a moment for the student to amble away before she finally speaks.
“I’m really mad at you.”
I nod. I start to say something but my voice catches mid-sentence and then I try to smile but I don’t really know why. Then I try to make the smile look like a smile that says, “I am very sorry and I wish we could both forget about this and then in a few weeks you can leave your husband and we’ll run away.” It’s a complicated smile and I’m putting a lot of work into it so I miss the next two things she says.
“Do you know why you haven’t been called into the office yet?” She’s looking at me concerned, I think my intense complicated smile made it look like I might cry. Shit. I don’t want her to think I was gonna cry, that’s the opposite of what that smile was supposed to purvey. I try to stand up straight and then I suck my lips into my mouth to appear pensive before I respond.
“No.” I casually make a move to lean on the locker next to me but there is more distance than I expect and the lean becomes a fall and I just bang into the locker with my shoulder and then stand up really fast. I’m always trying to play the strong silent card with Mrs. Daniels’ because her husband is the douche bag business teacher and he’s strong and silent and so I know that she likes that.
We both keep standing there though and I can tell Mrs. Daniels wants me to apologize but it’s getting awkward because neither of us have said anything. I accidentally start grinning because I’m nervous. I have this really bad habit of laughing when I’m nervous or sad, it happens constantly. We watched Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful in history class because it won an Academy Award and because it was Friday and I kept smiling when it was really depressing because I didn’t know how to react.
Finally, she gets that I’m not going to say anything so she speaks again.
“I don’t know what to do now. You deserve to be punished but I don’t want to be part of that club of teachers who have had students climb out the window on them, so I haven’t reported you. It’s too embarrassing. What you did was really inconsiderate though, I want you to know that.” She sighs and exhales loudly and I can tell that she is frustrated.
My stomach is sinking, this doesn’t sound like future boyfriend talk. I nod.
“I hope it was worth it too, because before this, you and I were like friends but now I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of, so now you’re just a student.”
I don’t say anything.
Yesterday I was looking out the window and it was beautiful outside and I was thinking about America and then I saw my friend Andrew and he was in his car right outside the classroom and he was motioning for me to come outside. Andrew isn’t going to graduate because he has more truancies than anyone I’ve ever met. People have forgotten who he is because he has so many truancies. He has over 400. I don’t understand why they are counting anymore. And so he must have known what I was thinking because we are best friends and he was motioning for me and it felt like adventure and so I opened the window impulsively and climbed out. I do a lot of thing impulsively. Everyone in the class was very confused and I told them to close the window after me and then I had this girl pass me my backpack and I felt like Indiana Jones. I ran out to the car. Me and Andrew drove to Baird’s Creek and we shared two grams of mushrooms after we parked and then we went and tried to catch crayfish in the water even though it was too cold. After the boomers kicked in Andrew tried to jump the creek from this fallen tree but the branch broke the minute he stepped on it and so he fell into the water face first. I was standing on a rock when it happened and I laughed so hard that I fell in too. Everything about the afternoon was worth it in every possible way and I don’t regret skipping at all.
I can’t say that though, so instead I nod some more and then down the hall I hear Callie Johnston’s honey voice speaking to some other girl in French and I know that they’re practicing for the AP exam. I can hear Callie Johnston’s voice very clearly because I’ve been in love with her since I was 12 and she was 13 but I can’t hear the other girl very well because I’m not in love with her at all and so it kind of sounds like Callie Johnston is just speaking french out into the hallway like a French siren with a not-so-good accent. The voice is getting louder and suddenly I want to wrap this all up quick.
“I’ll read first today if that helps Mrs. Daniels.”
“What’s your story about?” Mrs. Daniels motions for us to start moving.
“North American Ape,” we start walking back toward the classroom.
“Bigfoot Mrs. Daniels, It’s about Bigfoot.”