Restoration

Tuesday 3 September, 2013:

Leroi’s outside on his phone, before 6 am. He seems upset… but at the same time, it’s all about Leroi, you know? Conversation right outside my window, and the front door flung open, back door left unlocked. No thought as to me whatsoever. And that’s the problem. I feel like I’m just ‘there’, like some kind of unimportant detail, at least as far as Leroi’s concerned (and maybe Tau as well, I sometimes think). Boys coming and going – sure, they’re not drinking any more, that’s been a battle I’ve won. But they still don’t really take any notice of my wishes.

Things can’t go on this way. I can’t insert my energy underneath theirs, anymore. Right now I’m feeling buzzy with a suppressed vitality that craves to be released. My heart and solar plexus are kind of shirring with it.

And I haven’t seen Slade since we argued. It feels like there’s nothing to keep me anchored at school. Oh well, but if that’s how he wants to play it, that’s okay. I can’t be doing with subordination, not to anyone. Not Tau, not Kepaoa, nor Slade.

 

Most classes today aren’t bad; 9 Social are not at their best. I find it so frustrating, to be dealing with lil babies. A few of them bring out my tender side: Deshaun’s one, Lauren is another. But honestly, a lot of fuss over nothing, from so many of the dorks. Voices floating around my ears:

“Miss, make her give back my pencil…”

“Nah, I haven’t got it… Misss, she’s annoying me!”

“And he wanted to have a one outs ge…”

“Fuck, he’s a lil bitch…”

“Fuck up, you guys are all shit,” says the splendid Lauren, apropos of this babble. “I’m tryna concentrate on my learning, and you’re fuckin annoying me.”

 

“Miss… what’s our reflection?” asks Jackson at the end.

Someone else takes this up: “What’s our reflection, Miss?”

That’s when I say, somewhat abruptly, “I don’t want to have a reflection.”

“What?” they gasp, stunned by this display of unteacherly behaviour.

“What’s our reflection?” someone else repeats, plaintively.

“Oh okay, I’ll put it up on the board,” I mutter, backtracking. I make one up on the spot: ‘Reflection: 3 things I have learned today about writing a good essay.’

 

They wave their books under my nose. “Look Miss… my reflection.”

‘Body paragraphs, Structure, Punctuation’

‘Introduction, Body paragraphs, Conclusion’

‘Well structured paragraphs, Specific evidence, Discuss and explain ideas,’  lists Lauren, elegantly.

I say to Lauren, “Do you know what? If you came to school every day, you’d get Excellences for everything.”

“I’ve been coming every day for the last two weeks,” she tells me proudly.

Lauren’s mum is Miria, who runs the crack house. It’s Slade who’s told me all this and more, adding with a note of panic: “But you can’t tell anyone! Don’t tell anyone, Miss…?” His eyes beseech me, looking momentarily shocked by his own lack of caution.

“I won’t… who would I tell?” I murmur. Chloe, Marjorie, Karys? There wouldn’t be any point, not at all.

 

School day over, rest of my life kicks in. It’s almost 4 now, and I should go home. I kind of fantasise that I could just ‘go home and relax’. Didn’t know how lucky I was, when I could do that.

But I was lonely sometimes, too.

 

Wednesday 4 September:

Deshaun and Jackson have an altercation. It is (apparently) over some noise that Jackson has made with his chair. They wrestle one another and I send them both outside to wait for me. Deshaun takes off immediately. I deal with Jackson, and he goes back in (‘to complete his learning,’ as I log it on the pastoral comments later). Then I go to look for Deshaun. He’s roaming, by now he’s fallen in with AJ (from 9 Social last year).

When they see me, AJ says, “You better go with her.”

“Nah, I ain’t going back to class,” Deshaun tells us, without rancour.

“Nah ge, go with her, that’s the best teacher in the whole school ge,” says AJ.

Deshaun shakes his head, but walks beside me uncomplainingly.

“Straight up, this is the best teacher at school,” AJ repeats.

This touches my heart, and “Aww, thanks for helping out, AJ,” I say, and he smiles at my appreciation of his good deed.

I liked my 9 Social class last year, they were kind of cool. Halfway through the year, AJ was switched to another class (something Chloe cooked up, trying to pair him up with her ‘good kids’. The move backfired though, and AJ spent the rest of the year in the desultory pursuit of distraction, who can blame him? He would have done better to stay where the tone was more gangsta; definitely more simpatico.

 

Thursday 5 September:

Neither Leroi or I know where Tau is, and Leroi’s upset, thinking he’s gapped and left him all alone (some story about an argument earlier). He asks if he can get a lift over to where Sheree’s staying.

I’m not really happy with Leroi myself, to be honest. So I question a couple of things he says, and demur about a lift, and then Leroi walks away fast, and I hear him wailing, and punching the shed wall, and then he goes down the drive yelling, “Stupid bitch! Fuck! Fuuuuuuuuuuck!” He just keeps on screaming, all the way down the road. I feel a chill in my heart, thinking about him walking through Municipal like that, and then, right when I don’t expect it, this big wave of compassion kicks in for the frickin idiot.

So after a few minutes I chuck on my jacket, do up my shoes, and go look for him. He’s striding along towards Rangitikei Rd. I pull up alongside him and he ignores me for a moment, but then wheels around, bursts into tears, and gets in the car. I put my arms around him, and, “Everything’s so haaaaaard, my life’s fucked up, I got no-one, I got nothing,” he sobs.

“Yes you have,” I tell him. “It’s alright sweetie, it’s gonna be algood.”

“Tau’s gapped… I got nooooo one!” Leroi sobs. “My life’s fucked, it’s too hard… I dunno what to do.”

I note that he’s clutching a can of Cody’s, and when I enquire, he tells me he’s just stepped someone out for it, on the corner. Told the guy that if he didn’t give him a can, he’d take the whole box.

Leroi gets a bit calmer though, as we speak. He says he doesn’t want to go see Sheree after all, they’ll just end up fighting. “I don’t respect her,” he tells me. “She’s never done anything for me, she’s all shit. She don’t care about me.”

So I drop him off at his Nan’s. He asks me if I can get him a box (he has money). I tell him no. Then I come back home, feeling  kind of over everything. Yeah, I have compassion for Leroi, how could I not? But at the end of the day – I’m on my own.

I mail Tau, just before I go to bed. Just to say goodnight, and tell him Leroi’s safe, and to let him know things are ok.  And he replies, Gudnyt miss.  It soothes me a tiny bit.

But I feel like curling up in a ball and crying and crying. Not to be special, and not to be important. Tau and Leroi and Slade think they’re the only ones with problems, huh. And yeah, I know. They do got some pretty big problems. But yup.

 

Friday 6 September:

Things are not easy, that’s true. But there is a feeling of slight restoration in the air.

First, with silly old 9 Social. They start out by dicking around all over the place. I’m bored to tears. I walk around, trying not to yawn, wishing interval would come.

Deshaun keeps getting up, down, up and down. Sitting on the floor in the corner: “That’s cos my bum’s sore,” he tells me, cheerfully.

“I don’t care,” I say. “Get your bum back on the chair,” and he does, adding, “I need help, I don’t get what we have to do…” and he waves his hand towards the blank paper on his table.

“That’s cos you weren’t listening last time,” I growl.

“I wasn’t here!” he protests. “Remember? I left, and walked around outside.”

“Exactly!”

We look at one another, kind of facing off.

“You have to help me,” he instructs.

“Deshaun, I’ve got like five people who are waiting patiently for me already, then I’ll come help you, ok?”

“Ok,” he says, and puts his feet up on the table.

“Put your feet down,” I sigh, and he complies, turning to talk to Jackson instead.

 

Ten minutes later, he’s scuffling with Precious.

“Deshaun!”

“I’m waiting for you to help me,” says Deshaun, in a matter of fact way.

“Okay,” I tell him, unwillingly. “I just have to see Lauren, and then Michaela… then I’m coming over.”

 

Finally, I bite the bullet and wind up at Deshaun’s desk.

“What do I do?” he asks me, pushing the paper around and around with one finger.

I deliberate on how much I should actually be getting Deshaun (a ‘client’ of the usual imputed needs programmes, literacy being one) to do. But, “Well…” I say. “You’re gonna do your introduction, then plan your paragraphs – and then start writing your essay.”

“I don’t know how to do that, whadda I do?” he asks, in a not especially perturbed way.

“Well,” I say again, and pull up a chair. For some reason the boredom is actually leaving me, and the class, seeing Deshaun is currently occupied, loses half its potential for distraction. A slight hush falls on the air, as I begin to explain, patiently, how to write an essay.

 

To my amazement, Deshaun seems actually quite content. He picks up the pencil I’ve laid before him, and starts his intro. “How do you spell Inequality?” he says, then, “olity-olity,” he remarks with a quack, making his companions grin.

“A, l, i, t, y…” I say, and Deshaun writes it down.

“How do you spell suffer?”

“Double f,” I tell him. “That’s right.”

Like that, we get through an intro, a planning page, and a paragraph on ‘social factors’.

 

When interval rolls around, I’m proud of him. He’s had a minor run-in with Jackson: “He keeps looking at me,” complains Deshaun, at one point standing up and issuing a challenge across the room; “Is that us then?”’

“No it isn’t you,” I say, “Or you,” I address Jackson, who’s also risen to his feet. “Sit down, you two eggs,” I tell them, and they comply, though with several scowls given and returned. And then Deshaun gets  back to work.

He hands his essay to me, and I save it ready for next class.

 

9 Social leaves, and in walks Slade, with another boy as his ‘prop’. The boy, having done his part, stays all of 30 seconds, and Slade and I just look at one another.

“Heey,” I say.

“Hey, Miss,”

“Chu up to?”

“Jacc”

And then we just sit down next to one another and talk, and for the first time in ages, time seems to gently expand once more, instead of contract.

 

So until then, I’ve been thinking Slade’s had a cool week, kickin it with the boys, but:

“Jaaaacc,” he tells me, laughing. “I’ve been going to chess club.”

“Chess club!” I exclaim.

“Yeah, in the library.” He sighs, adding ruefully, “Didn’t know what else to do.”

We crack up laughing, and I tell him, “I’ve been bored as, by myself.”

“Same,” Slade says with conviction, then, “I thought you might still be angry with me.”

“I wasn’t even angry. I just got the wrong end of the stick,” I say. “I’m a dick, sometimes. It’s cos home’s been stressy – not that that’s any excuse.”

“It’s algood, Miss,” he reassures me. “My home’s been stressy as well. I know how you feel.”

And I just think how I can cope with stupid school, having a friend there again.

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