Monday 23 May, 2011:
Campbell (new boy, year 9, in my tutor) comes to me at the start of the day, when he can’t figure out what class he’s in. I look it up on the database, discover it’s Hard Materials and send him off with Andre. Andre takes him to the workshop and deposits him there… five minutes later Campbell is back: “The teacher said that’s not my class.”
“But it must be – I’ve looked it up,” I tell him.
“It’s not, it’s not…” he half cries. His English isn’t that great – he can’t explain what he means, he looks stricken.
I leave my class and take him over to Technology, to check. And there’s been a room swap, it’s not Campbell’s class today. He kind of clings to me, as we walk over to the other side of the school. The whole timetable thing is a mystery to him, from start to finish. But I’m being kind to him, and really, it’s any port in a storm. He actually puts his little arm around my waist, and says, “Miss? You’re a very nice teacher… I like you.” He finishes, “And you’re very beautiful.”
We get to his class, and when we go in, the Workshop teacher just barks – thinking that Campbell’s a recalcitrant attendee being brought in: “Look – sit down! I don’t care whether you want to be here or not!” I explain that he’s new, and Campbell looks at me gratefully as I point to his name on the roll, for the teacher to mark off.
I’m not sure why I even write this down. Maybe because Campbell – in his innocence – told me I was beautiful. ‘Beautiful’, because I helped him and was tender with him, instead of abrupt. And in reality, I’m not beautiful at all, not even a little bit. I’m just a person who feels all used up some days, and sometimes I’m ashamed.
Wednesday 25 May:
Project is chaotic from the start. I have to close down the painting and bring everything inside. I carry on with my boys and Riley, and it’s alright. But oh… it doesn’t even bear thinking about. Not yet, anyhow. Just that certain people I used to trust, let me down. Levi, in particular.
Levi – I remember a lotta things. I remember our 10 Social class. I remember the day I made him and Noa a cuppa tea. I remember the day he came to tell me about Inia. And today Levi tags up the bathroom in the block; hits up Kost and Chase (without their knowledge, no doubt), does a few other tags, in other places… and I tell him to go home. I feel sick, and totally without power.
Elroy says Levi took a can – a brand new full can– when he left. Took the can, then came back to ask for nozzles (and Elroy wouldn’t give him any).
Levi – who I trusted. I don’t even think I could look at him just now. I feel so sick about all of it.
And will I snitch? I won’t. Oh, that isn’t what I want. I almost wish it was.
Thursday 26 May:
My heart aches – a huge ache that won’t go away. I think I had no control of the situation, yesterday. My voice seemed to me to be a stupid voice of helpless appeasement. No substance and no power and no authority in it. I felt very, very weak. And today I need to be strong, and I don’t know if I can turn it round so fast.
I head to work, despite car trouble and pouring rain. Just before 7:30 I come home again and ring in sick. Well I am, kind of. Heartsick. Not to mention worried about the car.
Set relief – late cover – putting the world of Municipal College into a temporary commotion. La-Verne kindly takes over the Mona Lisas; a reliever gets allocated 13 History and the year 9’s.
Then I feel like I get a little bit of a second wind. Wyatt rings about Eddie – he’s been reinstated. With conditions (of course) but still: reinstated, not excluded. And Kost texts me about Zion.
Around lunchtime there’s a text from Tau. He’s been struggling with the day too; he tells me he had a big argument with Scott and Sheree this morning. He texts back a few more times, so I pick him up from course and we talk on the way home.
The conversation is funny and companionable. I tell him about Levi, and: “Oh, what a stink guy,” Tau comments. I feel the hurt of it start to wash away.
And I tell him, when he talks about going to court; going inside, “Hey Tau – you don’t have to go inside. You can be the one who makes it through. You can do it, you know. Can be the one with a good life.” He grins, and I add, “A nice house, you know – you could be a family guy!” and he chuckles, saying, “Yeah, maybe.”
“Don’t rule it out,” I say. “ You just keep going.”
He starts breathing quietly and peacefully, and I feel his solid arm just lightly rest against mine. And that aura of Tau being calm and safe for a while – it makes me feel safe too.
One time La-Verne said to me, “Well, at the end of the day, it’s up to his parents to sort themselves out. Remember, you didn’t actually give birth to him.”
I laugh, saying, “Yeah – but I may as well have!” and both of us crack up at that. But all the same… I love Tau like I raised him.
Friday 27 May:
I nearly don’t go to school this morning either. I lie in bed, wave my phone around and compose an ‘out’ text, then delete it.
But then I decide to strike while the iron’s still hot, and arrange a meeting with Morris, regarding Zion. I pretty much lay my cards on the table; tell him I’ve talked to Zion’s brother – school doesn’t even know he has a brother – and that he’s the one who really looks out for Zion. And furthermore, that Kost wants Zion’s timetable changed.
Morris is most interested, and wants to meet with Kost. I speak frankly, saying that Marjorie thinks I’m interfering, and has implied I’m not party to all the facts. I tell Morris I think she’s just pulling rank, and that there’s no important reason behind the refusal to change Zion’s timetable. Morris laughs; I think he’s surprised by me speaking so openly. I continue, “And there’s something else you should know: I’m very stubborn – extremely stubborn.”
Morris laughs again, saying, “I think I’m starting to see that.”
Then I show him the photos of Zion painting. He just shakes his head in wonder, saying, “Well, what do you know?”
So I’ll get Kost to come in – and Marjorie can’t make a move without me noticing.