Jamie looked up from his work, the pencil needed sharpening yet again, Henry had such a clumsy and firm grip.
"Wait there while I sharpen this pencil, then we'll get back to long division. O-k?"
The child nodded and Jamie headed back to the stationary drawer. Working at a West Greenheath Primary School for Children with Learning Difficulties may not have been the best paid, or easiest or even the most exciting job in the world - but he had to admit, what other job could be as rewarding. It also helped him take his mind off of Richard and their 'little' promise, and that was definitely a tall order.
And the walls were all painted in a gloss white color as this turned out to be the easiest to clean after any accidents - Richard would have loved to work here - and it would have been his end of the bargain. That was easy in hindsight.
The clock was very loud - it reminded him of the short time we have yet the endless time until 'home-time'. It was only a few minutes until break now and then he could sit in the staff room with a coffee and a copy of the paper for fifteen minutes. Not that he didn't like his job, it's just that it took the best out of him, even if he did meet any girls now, he wouldn't have the energy.
The bell rang for the start of break-time and the children almost dropped their pencils, paper and for some reason, glue and rushed out to the skipping ropes and the chalk for the concrete paving slabs.
Jamie, or Mr. Masters as the children knew him, quietly picked up most of the paper cuttings from the floor and chucked them in the bin. He picked up his 'Greatest Teacher Ever' mug, switched off the light, and headed for the staff room.
In the days after Richard had died, Jamie's mind had repeated that last conversation again and again. Not allowed to speak to girls. But that was impossible! At the time he had a summer job working at a gass station and he knew that he would have to talk to girls or he'd loose his job. But maybe work didn't count. Yes, he had reasoned, work couldn't count. Now, with his job as a teacher, he had to talk to both moms and dads on parent teacher nights, so he broke the rules only when necessary for work. But when girls were involved anywhere else, he right away became oddly silent.
Jamie walked down the corridor, listening to the rhythmic tap of his shoes on the shining floor. The staff room was only a few seconds away and already he could imagine the click and *shh* of the kettle after it boiled.
Standing at the reception desk was a woman, she had jeans and a white top on, her brown hair was done into a neat but relaxed ponytail and she didn't look happy. The receptionist had obviously been gone for a while. She bent her grumpy face toward the baby in the buggy next to her and made a 'bababababoo' noise to soothe the infant as if they both shared an emotional tie and the infant needed a soother.
"Can I help you miss?" Jamie inquired, somehow clutching the mug closer.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I would like to speak to the head-teacher here." Her voice was too formal, it was like the line had been rehearsed in her head many times before.
"Well," Jamie replied, the same amount of efficiency and thoughtfulness in his own tone, he could play this game too - "as a matter of fact, he's not here at the moment, he's supervising on the playground, could I help you?"
"No, I'll wait here for a bit longer - I'm sure it can wait." She glared at him as if to say - this is all your fault.
Jamie headed into the staff room which was next to the reception. Never would he speak to her again - not because he wanted to speak to to her, not because he liked her or dare he think it loved her. But because he couldn't stand people like that.
The day had gone on as planned from then on, the children asked their normal questions and the traffic home was horrendous. His dinner didn't cook well in the microwave and he couldn't find a clean fork - again.
He picked up the phone after his dinner and typed in his mother's number. The dialing tone carried on for a while.
he was about to hang up when a voice spoke -
"Sorry love, got people in about the decorating, speak to you later."
"Look, I said I'd do that..."
"Can't hear you properly. Gotta go... mwah mwah bye!"
Then the dialing tone returned