Teacher by Madelaine Taylor

Sarah’s face was twisted around her button nose. Her left cheek, now red with the heat of the moment, drawn up, stretching her tightly closed mouth up towards her more sinister nostril. Her eyes were wide, reddening and welling up with barely contained tears. 

Her head dropped, her left hand rising to support it caught her cheek and pushed it even further up her face, creasing her left eye closed, tight. 

A tear made its way down her nose, only to be drawn into her nostril as she snorted, her attempt to prevent breaking down completely in front of her friends. 

Embarrassed by the ugly sound of her struggle, she pulled her other hand up and dropped her head, hiding behind the baggy woolly sleeves of her navy blue jumper. 

She felt the warm pressure of the hand upon her shoulder, a comforting touch from her friend. She didn’t look up, her tears were flowing freely now, her red cheeks were hot and wet, her eyes sore and her throat aching with the effort of keeping her sobbing silent. Her body started to shake and her shoulders heaved as her breathing became more erratic. 

“What’s wrong, Sarah?” The voice was soft, whispered close to her hidden, sodden, face. 

She tried to whisper her reply but her snorted, desperate breathing and restricted throat betrayed her. Whispered vowels became half voiced diphthongs, broken into hiccup like sounds that echoed around the room. “She thinks I’m stupid.” 

She felt another hand at the base of her neck, a gentle rubbing over her hunched shoulders and a soft, sweet voice in her left ear. 

“Actually, I think you’re as bright as a star, Sarah. Nobody knows everything, we all come here to learn. Even me.” 

Published in Issue #9 

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