One errant tide

Monday 7 February, 2011:

Leroi tells me that their laptop doesn’t work properly since Tau got mad and smashed it. “It still goes,” he says. “But the screen’s gone all dark.”

“Why was he mad?” I ask.

“I dunno,” says Leroi calmly. “He just – he just snaps, sometimes.” He looks at me as if to say: you know.

And I do know.

Inia arrives – it’s his first day back at school today. He looks bigger, and sits obligingly through my two 12 History classes. Near the end of the first, his timetable mysteriously alters (he gets a slip from the runner), and lo and behold – he’s now in the second class instead.

13 History: 21 girls and only six boys. And the boys aren’t really the ones I know – apart from Jack. Poor old Jack comes in, takes one look around, and hops to my side immediately. “Miss,” he says in a worried voice, “I dunno if I’ll like this class.”

“How come?”

“Cos…” He looks around. “I don’t know anyone, and it’s -”

“I know – but it might be ok,” I say. “Why don’t you go sit by Sia – you know her.”

“Nah,” says Jack. “Can I just sit here by you?”

“Yeah, course you can, if that’s what you want to do.” I look at his face, which is discomforted and brave. “Ohhh, Jack,” I say. “You just give it a try today, and see what you think, ok?”

Jack nods. I understand how out of his element he feels, and while I’m sympathetic – I’m also crossing my fingers that he’ll acclimatize. Anyhow, I’m glad to have him there beside me today, and together we weather the vibe.


Tuesday 8 February:

Chris comes to see me – he wants to take 12 History too (although he’s year 13).

“But are you sure?” I ask. “When you don’t need any more level 2 credits?”

“I do want to,” he assures me. “I’d far rather be in your class. And I’ll just get heaps more credits and look like a brainy guy.”


Wednesday 9 February:

Money’s on my mind. I pay the balance of the set up costs for the house today – and now I’ve got $27 left, and I still need to make the first rent payment next Thursday. And somehow I’ve got to put gas in the car tomorrow, and then I’ve got no credit left on my phone… and then there’s food.

I can’t afford a removal van; I can’t afford a skip. I need – at the very least – to find $650 by next weekend. I still haven’t asked for a pay advance – I hardly know how to broach the subject, or to whom. I feel kind of weird about asking, too, but I’m gonna have to. This can’t fall through. It can’t. I feel so totally attached to this one errant tide that’s carrying me through. There’s no other time, exactly, that’ll do. I don’t even know quite what I mean. I just know that I have to hold on. I have to and I will.


I track down Sane – it’s not hard at all, once I know he’s in year 11.

“Oh, that’s Jared,” Leroi tells me easily.

“Jared who?”

“Um…”  He looks around. “That Jared,” pointing to a guy waiting in line at the cafeteria.

I leave it right then, and wait instead for a suitable moment. That moment arrives later in the morning, when I think I see the same guy coming past me near the block. “Oh -” I intercept him, still not one hundred percent sure if I have the right person. “What’s your name?”

“Jared,” says the boy, amiably.

“Right,” I say, now certain of my facts. “So… you’re Jared.”

The boy looks at me curiously, noting my ‘significant’ tone.

“Been visiting the school a bit in the holidays?” I enquire, and this question catches him completely off guard. He just looks at me, dumbfounded.

“K, Jared,” I say. “I’m gonna speak freely to you, ok?”

He nods.

“I know it was you guys, and, well… I let Ms Kirk and the caretaker think it was just people from outside the school coming in. So nobody knows, and it can stay that way. But I don’t want graff project closed down. And if Ms Kirk keeps seeing tags all over the school, she might do that. And so – if you could take your artistic activities elsewhere, it would be much appreciated. Do you get what I’m saying?”

He nods, and nods, and then nods again for good measure.

“Ok then, see ya,” I say – and I go to class.


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