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Clara Hutchinson

photo of Clara reading her story©2012

Invisible Classroom Conversation

He sits silently still, slouched in his usual position in the back of the classroom. Feet hanging out in the aisle, not really caring if people need to step around. He’s exhausted. He wonders if she’ll call him out for putting his head down, or if she’ll just let him be, not wanting the fight today?

She stands at the front of the classroom, proud of the lesson she’s created. She looks over at him. His head is down yet again, but she still has time to notice his blood-shot eyes, the turned down lips, and the furrow in his brows. Not wanting a fight today, she goes on with the start of class.

He’s relieved. Hopefully the class goes by quickly. He can get in and out. Administration will just be happy they didn’t have to put up with him in the hallway. He’s too tired to mess around with anyone today. Getting any sleep in a comfortable place seems to be a full time job right now. Last night was just so busy. He needed to find a ride home from practice, grab his stuff from his Mom’s without her knowing, dodge the police after curfew, and charm his way into his best friend’s apartment.

She’s relieved. It seems as if he just wants to be left alone. He seems to not want to pick a fight. She won’t even have to wish he had stayed in the hallway today. It’s not him. It’s just that last night was so busy. Grades are due today. She needed to update her website, correct the last stack of long-neglected papers, call parents, attend a registration night, and try to get in a work- out and a good dinner with her husband.

He tries to pay attention for moment. He likes literature. Yet, he can’t stop thinking about the turn of events in the past week. Things seem really out of control right now. Mom has moved in with someone new and the apartment is too small for two grown men. He pushes his notebook off the side of his desk to make room for his heavy head. He’s scared.

She tries to convey her love of literature. This play is just what she needs to get him engaged. She notices that his ears perked up for a bit when she talked about vengeance versus justice. It was a fleeting moment. It’s over. He rolls his eyes and pushes his notebook off his desk. Head is back down. She wonders why he’s always so angry.

He wonders why she talks so much. Doesn’t she realize that only five of these kids are actually participating in her lesson? All these adults have so much to say, yet they don’t have any of the answers. What’s the point of reading about a king from hundreds of years ago that got himself into a mess because he listened to some gods he can’t see. Who kills their own kid anyway? What an asshole?

She wonders why he won’t talk to her. She picked this play with young men like him in mind. She thought he would really connect with a character that had to right a wrong done to her family. He should appreciate that she is trying to reach out to him through the literature she picks. She doesn’t do this job for the money. She could go and teach somewhere where all the kids want to learn, or at least have the social skills to act like they do. She stays, knowing deep in her heart that he wants success.

He notices her walk quickly by so as to not disturb him. She stops. He sees her force a tight smile, careful to not show teeth. She lingers near his desk as if to say something and then quickly walks away again. He can tell that his presence makes her uncomfortable. Why doesn’t she like him?

She notices that he wants to be left alone, yet she really wants to engage him in today’s lesson. She worries about overstepping her bounds and that her concern for him makes him uncomfortable. If there was a way to make him feel safe she would try it, but it’s safer for her to pull back. Why doesn’t he like her?

Even when he ignores her, he does appreciate it when she gives him a smile and tells him it’s good to see him today. He knows there aren’t many people that enjoy his presence, but for some reason he knows she wants him to succeed. If only she knew that every time she told him he had so much potential, it is only a reminder of what a failure he has been. He’s never been good enough for anyone.

Even though he ignores her, she usually tries to give him a knowing smile or say good morning. Every once in a while there seems to be a light in his eye and she lives for those days. Now, if only she could get him to see how smart he is and to work towards his potential.

He wishes he could tell her....

She wishes she could tell him....