What is ‘that thing’ – what do I offer? What do I bring into it that wasn’t there before? I don’t know.
But I don’t think I should be sad. I shouldn’t be… because there’s something. I don’t just do nothing; I don’t just observe – which has always been my ‘talent’ (like Dimario). It’s different now.
Thursday 10 September, 2009:
Joy in my heart that I manage to achieve an unspoken truce with Dimario. He comes in (late) and sits down and bombs in his book, and I just leave him to it for a little while – but as I go by I speak to Alexander, who’s doing his work.
Then I say, “Hello Dimario.”
He looks at me without saying anything.
“Are you going to start your work, too?”
He ignores the question, instead passing his book across to Jack to see the bombing.
I sigh, “Oh Dimario, are you trying to give me two hard days in a row?” But I just say it without dismay, adding, “I’m happy you’re here.” And I go on my rounds, and leave him to his own devices.
The next time I come by, he’s started doing the work in his book. “I’m up to question four,” he tells me casually.
And then, he begins to talk to me again
My year 10 class, all quiet… what success! I feel absurdly proud of myself to have Simeon, Levi, Riley: like three little chickens in a row, sitting fluffed up and quiet – just perched there. When I see them like that, not – admittedly – doing a great deal, but with no malice in their eyes, just a willingness to be hemmed in for the duration, I feel splendidly content for a moment.
George comes to see me. He says, “Miss, I’m gonna move down the line with my sister. Maybe in the holidays.”
“Really, George?” I ask.
He nods, saying, “Yeah Miss, will you miss me – will you remember my timetable?’
“Of course I will,” I say. “And what will you do when you’re at your new school, with no-one to tell you what class you’re supposed to be in?”
George says suspiciously, “Where am I sposed to be now?’ and I tell him, “Um… Maths,” and he says triumphantly, “That’s right!” and we’re both very amused by this.
I’ll really miss George if he goes. Every bloody day, outside my room, so many times that I lose count.
Yesterday he’s there, swinging his legs, looking grouchy.
I say, “George – your Social class.”
“But,” he gestures up the stairs. “There’s no-one there – look.”
“Have you just got to school?” I say.
“Then try the library. Miss has probably taken the class there.”
“Nah, don’t really wanna…”
“Come on George,” I cajole him, “It’s to do stuff for the assessment – I’m sure that’s where they are.”
“Is there an assessment?’ he asks.
“Yes.” And I tell him, “Honestly George – you may as well go and give it a try, aye.”
“Alright,” he says, generously, and off he goes.
Mandy tells me later, “George turned up. He tried hard.”
But Tau and his parents don’t show up for the reinstatement meeting today. I worry about him quietly, not really dwelling on it. Luckily it’s Thursday – one of my busiest days – so my mind has to stay in the present, not more than five minutes ahead of what’s happening at any given moment.
Later Kuli drives me home, I go to McDonald’s and get my usual: Big Mac, fries, and coffee. How many times is that in the last few weeks; maybe once a week; maybe twice sometimes? I’m not sure… but just the instant relief of the bright lights; the salt; the coffee – which isn’t strong, just hot. And the feeling of sitting there at 5 o’clock with cars going past; the doors opening and closing; the sense of being suspended in the midst of something, just floating – quiet and warm.
I come home, have a bath, eat an apple (concession to vitamins; lunch was a piece of chocolate fudge at 10:30), and that’s it, that’s all.