Flash Friday 20/10/2012: Teacher Training
The room was thick with the scent of Christmas tree. Lights all around the room blinked on and off in pleasing patterns, their quality picked to maximise feelings of cheer, goodwill, and total jealousy amongst the neighbours. A old record player played a well-loved and scratched vinyl edition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
The magical, once-a-year atmosphere had no effect on Charlie whatsoever; his attention was locked onto the big present under the tree.
His parents never gave him the best ones first, asking him to ‘open his smaller presents before The Big One’. The shreddings of smaller presents lay around him, acting as a sacrifice to the Great God Santa for a good outcome when the lid on the large present was lifted. Santa was smiling on him today, as the payload was much larger than previous years. In fact, he could swear he could see air holes around the sides of the package. Always a good sign.
“Now honey,” the mother said, her sweet tone not covering for the fact she was taking her time dragging the present from under the tree. “Daddy and I had a long discussion about this, because we know you want one so badly. We’ve decided that perhaps you’re of the right age to finally have one of your very own.”
“She’s right,” the father said, taking the pipe out of his mouth to speak. “Nothing better to train a man’s compassion for his fellow man like a pet. Be gentle with the box now, sprite. Don’t want any Christmas tragedies.”
The present was now in front of Charlie. With shaking hands, he took hold of the bow and undone it. One swift motion and the lid was off, a wave of excitement putting a smile on his face. Could it really be one of them? After all these years?
In response, the pet stood up from out of the box and bowed to Charlie.
Charlie’s dream had come true. He finally had a pet math teacher.
“Oh my god, thank you,” he said, throwing his arms around the teacher. He could smell the staff room scent on the tweed jacket. “We’ll have so much fun together, mama and papa. We’ll stay up all night and do calculus and create algorithms and–”
“Just one thing you have to promise me,” the father said. “Remember that a maths teacher is for life, and not just for Christmas.”
“Right.” Charlie smiled. “I promise.”
Charlie rubbed his hands together as he stared at the computer screen. This essay was not flowing as well as he hoped he would, and the deadline for it was next week. There was no way he could fit in a month’s worth of work into that time frame. He would have to work uninterrupted for several hours every day to get even close to passing.
Only one thing to do, then.
Putting his fingers on the keyboard, he tried to formulate the words in his mind. Questions arose as to how he could tackle them. How could he bring the introduction of the essay to life without sounding like drivel? What parts from the textbook could he bring into this part to further his point? What on earth was that whining sound?
The latter question was answered by a curious look downward. Crouching by his chair, beaming two innocent eyes through a pair of high strength glasses, was the math teacher.
“I can’t do sums with you right now,” Charlie said, turning back to his monitor. “I’m really busy.” He didn’t manage to type a word before the maths teacher flung himself over the keyboard, curling up to take in the excess heat emanating from his now trapped hands. “Dad,” he said, shouting through his bedroom door. “Alphie is lying on my keyboard again.”
“Well kick him off,” came his father’s reply. “It’s the only way he’ll learn.”
“Alright.” With a heave, Charlie picked up the teacher and dumped him on the floor, taking a small pleasure in the comical thud that followed. Despite the abuse, the teacher was not giving up, repeating his puppy-dog eye trick with added whining. “No. Bad Alphie. Go lie on your bed ad think about what you’ve done.”
Alphie dipped his head to the floor as he slinked across the room to the door, following Charlie’s pointing finger. Just as he was about to leave, he turned his head to look at Charlie at a last ditch attempt for compassion.
“Out,” Charlie said, jabbing the finger once more. All of his options expired, Alphie admitted defeat and dragged himself through the door and into the hallway. Charlie gave an annoyed sigh and rubbed his temples, trying to remember where his thought process was. “Would’ve been fine if it was an English teacher,” he said to himself.