What day is it today? Is it Tuesday or Thursday? This thought raced through her mind as she sat back with her studentsgoing over the lesson that never seemed to end. Didn’t I just do this yesterday? Or was it a year ago? Hell, everything seemed to jumble together anymore. "Miss Smith
can I go to the bathroom?" Jorge asked, as he proceeded to jump from one foot to another, holding himself. How many times have I heard this? She wondered as she abruptly said, "Yes" and watched as he raced out of the room.
Sitting at the table she gazed at her students while thinking of what she would do after work. Maybe I’ll go to the gym or stop at the market for something to eat tonight. Mechanically she continued with her lesson on the short letter "a" with her students. "The letter "a" makes what sound?" "a, a, a", the students sang together going through the empty motions. The clock dragged away the minutes teasing her with the tediousness of the day.
Won’t it end? She thought as the phone rang out its morse code for her room. Sighing she stood up and walked through the maze of students desks to get to the phone. Picking up the receiver the other voice seemed a hundred miles away. Oh, how I wish I were anywhere but here. Here mind wandered to the hot exotic beach of Cabo, Mexico, where she had spent her last summer break. She still remembered the cool breezes that caressed her skin as she lay on the gritty sand.
"Miss Smith did you hear me?" the secretary annoyingly asked her. "Oh, sorry. What did you say?" "Can you send Carla to the office?" the secretary impatiently asked. "Oh, course" she replied as she hung up the phone. She turned from the phone and yelled out Carla’s name. Carla, who was one of the many who always seemed so needy that were in her class this year. Carla looked up from her desk, her hair hanging like a matted displaced doll. Her face was lined with dirt that gave her the appearance of one of those munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. "You need to go to the office", she said while Carla slowly rose from her desk. "Why do I have to go?" whined Carla. "It’s between you and the office—just go up" she hastily turned her back as Carla walked out of the room. Like having free school uniforms is the answer. It would be nice if just once someone called saying something nice or thanking me for all the endless crap I have to deal with. With a sigh she walked back to her other students who were clustered at the back table patiently waiting her return.
The rest of the afternoon blurred into one long endless repetition. Finally the bell rang as a relief. As she led her students out the door they walked behind her as baby chicks returning to their fold. She noticed that their mother hens clucked to them behind the iron gate. As she proceeded to walk down the corridor, the air, which rose with the musical tingle of Spanish coloring everything that touched it, greeted her. She watched with a touch of envy as the children left her to return to those homes that probably were filled with laughter and warmth while she would once again return to the same endless march of boredom.
"Senora, un momento por favor" She turned her head and noticed the small shriveled man, his brown face lined with a map to places only he knew. "Thanks for helping my grandson Julio to read" the gentleman said in his faltering broken English. She immediately thought of Julio, who once as unreachable as a hardened walnut, slowly cracked opened to reveal the eager child inside. She thought of the inner struggle Julio must have had as he tried to make sense of the foreign letters and the sudden joy when he had unbroken the mysterious code. Was the grandfather the same? She looked up at this elderly gentleman, probably his grandfather, and quickly recognized the sameness of the two. "Gracias Senora" a weathered hand came out and firmly grasped hers with warmth that radiated from his soul to hers. Just as abruptly he removed his hand and left her. As he walked away she thought of that exotic sun and realized maybe it was closer to her than she thought.
她坐在桌边，眼睛盯着学生，脑子里却在想，下了班该去哪里。也许该去健身，或者去市场买点东西晚上吃。她机械地上着课，给学生讲字母“a”。“‘a’怎么念？”“a, a, a”学生们齐声干巴巴地念着。时钟一分分过去，似乎在嘲笑她这沉闷的一天。