Number three in the Magpie Tales series. a weekly challenge put out by Willow of Life at Willow Manor. Visit her site or the Magpie Tales site to follow the writers who quest to respond to her prompts.
Death by Duster
Holy shit. That could kill a man.
Suddenly I'm sitting bolt upright in bed. I'm shaking with fear. I can see the dull weapon flying across the room.
My recurring nightmare has struck again. Not the one where I'm constantly trying to repair the huge decaying house I have bought sight unseen on the edge of a cliff with the sea raging far below and washing away the foundatiuons at the same time; not me flying out my window and skidding across the sky under a full moon, soaring and diving and flashing over rooftops; this is the one where I've killed a man, or more to the point a boy.
It's my first year as a teacher. They've given me grade four. I'm in a double classroom with another first year teacher whose classroom management is brutal. He's a bikie with a long ponytail reaching down to his waist. He rides a huge Moto Guzzi, all gleaming metal and growl voiced. I'm riding my motorbike to school too. It's a Czechoslovakian single cylinder Jawa. It goes ping ping. It never growls. I have long hair too but it's ratty and unkempt. I am skinny he is muscled.
His class sit quietly as he teaches maths by the book, from the book. I'm more free flowing. I engage the children in creative play. There are photos to prove it. Images of nine year olds standing on desks, crawling over desks, crawling under desks. At the distance of many years the memory is misty. Could the climbing and crawling have perhaps been chaos, the tyrrany of children over the inexperienced teacher.
'Sir's got a hairy sausage' says Ritchie, my least favourite classmember. I'm rattled. I haven't got a response to that. Could be I am tempted to confirm this but I am a first year teacher and banter about sexual organs is not encouraged. Craig is stabbing the desk with his compass, Madonna is combing her hair, Louise is cuddling her toy pony. I'm trying to teach maths too. Tables to be exact. Ritchie has taken to pinching objects from desks around him and hiding them in his tidy box. His head is buried under his desk for minutes on end. At the end of my tether I respond. Turning from the blackboard I lob the duster in my hand towards Ritchie. The intention is for it to land on his desk and frighten the little bugger so I can get his attention and be one up on him. Instead I have miscalculated my throw. The duster has a thick wooden base. I'm used to the fully felted type. My throw has exceeded its intended trajectory and I watch it sail through the air in slow motion and crack Ritchie on the temple. I hear the noise, like a hammer cracking a macadamia nut. A neat conk followed by a dull thud as the duster finally reaches its preferred destination, the desk.
Ritchie is howling. I can see the lump growing from his skull moment by moment. I am willing it to stop. He already has a big head. He's turning into a monster before my eyes. 'I'm going to tell my mother on you' he screams at me. He will too. 'You go right ahead Ritchie. Tell her I'd love to talk to her about your behaviour'. I'm desperately trying to get the upper hand over this nine year old. I'm shaking. The class is silent save for the sound of sobbing. And the bell rings,
The nightmares begin that night. I can't sleep. I have a mixture of replays and preplays running through my head. The preplay is Mrs Ritchie marching to the headmaster's office demanding I be sacked for maiming her son. The replay gets more and more dramatic, the lump bigger and bigger. Blood gushes.
I'm in the classroom next morning putting the day's maths tables test on the blackboard and I see this woman marching across the playground. I've never met Ritchie's mum but I know it's her. She has his stocky build. She looks fierce. The shaking starts again, deep in my stomach. I feel like dry reeching. I move to greet her at the door, a jumble of possible scripts running through my head. I cut her off before she can enter the battle zone. 'Good morning' I say, smiling with my mouth but fear etched in my eyes. 'Hello' she says. Here it comes. I'm dead I'm sure. The bruising, the bump. there's no way I can explain it as an accident. My career over before it's begun.
'I've come about Ritchie's hat. He seems to have misplaced it'