Breaking With Her.


The scrawling of his pen was the only noise to fill up the room. The sun hung at its four o’clock angle to send lazy beams through the high, cathedral windows. They illuminated the legions of dust particles all the money in the world couldn’t eradicate.

George Ames was curled over his grand, mahogany desk at the head of the classroom, grading. Every so often he’d glance up long enough to take a sip of coffee, stare out at the rows of empty desks, and marvel at the fact that only one year of teaching had brought him here. He sighed at those perfect lines and took a gulp from his crested, green mug, incredulous.

From the doorway, Mary Catherine Moor stood; leaning against the doorframe and watching him sigh and cross out incorrect answers on the final exams. Here in this doorway, it was like time stood still. If she just stood here and pressed her body against the mahogany, watching Mr. Ames fix all those mistakes, she could maybe pretend that it wasn’t only a matter of time before she was walking home and removing that green plaid skirt and crested blazer for the last time.

The sound of advancing stilettos on the marble hallway jostled her back into the present moment and forced her hand to rap thrice against the wood.

George looked up from his papers. “Mary Catherine,” he said, standing.

They made eye contact and she offered him a small, pained smile.

“Please come in,” he gestured her into the room, smoothed his hair back, and returned to his seat.

Mary Catherine obeyed his request and maneuvered herself into the desk directly in front of his, her long, blond hair spilling around her like a curtain.

George cleared his throat. “Do you want to talk about something?” he asked, shaking his red pen between his pointer and middle finger, nervously.

He watched as her pretty little face rearranged itself into an expression eons more mature than her thirteen years.

“I just… I wanted to tell you something,” she broke her gaze to glance at the ground, “I won’t be coming back next year to Seckert Prep.” Her voice was lower than it probably should have been and it carried the faintest twinge of laryngitis

It was a few seconds before he spoke.

“Are you moving?” he asked, for lack of a better response.

She shook her head and inhaled.

“Well, is it the money? Because you know, there are scholarships.”

“No. It’s not the money. Not in so many words.” It sounded like something in her was breaking.

She drug her eyes slowly across his facial features slowly as they sat in silence.

“Does this have to do with your stepfath-“

Don’t talk about him,” she said forcefully, sitting up straighter and crossing her arms on the desk.

“But if he-“

“Please. Don’t,” her voice was still quietly severe like he knew it could be.

His body softly recoiled. “Okay.”

Mary Catherine leaned back into the chair and tilted her head to the ceiling, feeling comfortably melancholic, wishing she could stay here in this desk, across from this man, forever.

“I’m going to miss it here so much,” she said, turning her face back to his, her dark eyes brimming with a subtly unabashed confidence.

He nodded and looked at her feet, covered in knee socks and picturesque Mary Janes.

“And I’m going to miss you. You’re my favorite teacher, Mr. Ames.”

“It will be a marked loss not to have you in my class next year,” he said, matching her steady and direct gaze.

She was easily the smartest in her entire class, probably the ones above her as well. It wasn’t that she got the highest marks, but she held a wisdom and maturity behind those large brown eyes that far exceeded that of her peers’. God, was she smart.

“It’s just been hard, dealing with it all,” she said.

George laid his hands out flat on the cool surface before him, feeling invested to the point that if she broke, his heart would break with her.

“You know, Mary Catherine, I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through,” he said leaning forward onto his elbows. She could smell the sophisticated musk of his cologne that clung to his sport coat.

“But I am always here for you. Remember that.”

She nodded and drug a hand through her smooth, blond locks.

“Thank you,” she said, her voice raw and low in intonation.

They sat in silence for another full minute, attempting to delay the inevitable.

There was a knocking at the door. “George?”

He turned to see Mrs. Ryden, the assistant principal, over coiffed and holding a stack of papers.

“Yes Mrs. Ryden?” he asked in his most impressive teacher’s voice.

“I don’t mean to interrupt,” she said, glancing at Mary Catherine, “I just wanted to remind you, George that final grades need to be posted and mailed by Tuesday.”

He nodded, “I’m aware. Thank you Mrs. Ryden.”

They listened to her footsteps as she slowly walked out of earshot.

“I guess I should go,” said Mary Catherine, not yet moving to leave.

“I’m glad you came to tell me,” he said.

She grudgingly stood and took the few meandering steps across the room.

She stopped in the doorway once more, running her fingers along the brass doorknob.

“I’m glad to have known you,” she said in the most heartbreaking tone possible.

He felt his throat catch as he released the word ‘likewise’ into the dusty, sunstreaked air.

In another second, she turned and left, leaving behind her a hollow wake of stagnant air and the color of mahogany.


~ by Jade Elizabeth on August 21, 2011.

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