[Ed.’s Note: This piece was first published in August, 2012. It is loosely inspired by real events.]
Mrs. Cobb stood in the classroom doorway during recess watching her flock. Two of her colleagues stood by an adjacent classroom talking, their voices deliberately hushed. Mrs. Cobb paid no attention to them, nor did she take their two-way chatter as a slight. She focused her attention on little Gary, playing with some of the girls again in the sandbox. The other boys rode around on the metal tricycles with the red-painted frames and black rubber tires on silver rims. They also played with red rubber balls. Gary rarely played with them. He usually sat alone or with some of the girls in the sandbox. Mrs. Cobb was very concerned about his behavior. She walked to her colleagues. Their eyes averted hers and their voices continued speaking only for each other. Eventually, though, as Mrs. Cobb lingered close to them with a ‘ahem’ smile embedded on her face, they had no choice but to acknowledge her. Mrs. Bierson spoke first.
“How are you today, Mrs. Cobb?”
“I’m doing fine, praise the Lord.”
The first L-bomb fell quickly and stifled the natural flow of chatter between Mrs. Bierson and Mrs. Songs. Both engaged defenses that raised walls between the three women. It wasn’t that they were not religious. But as with nearly all of Mrs. Cobb’s colleagues and friends outside of church, they found the frequent invocations of the Lord Jesus or God during casual conversations very tedious. They believed, as did most of Mrs. Cobb’s friends and acquaintances, that a once a week visit to their religious leader sufficed and anything more than that amounted to overkill. They knew that the Lord watched over them 24/7 and did not desire constant reminders of that fact.
“I’m just watching over our charges,” Mrs. Cobb said. “They seem to be having a good time.”
“Yes, they are,” Mrs. Songs said. “It’s certainly a nice day to be outside. Not as warm as it has been these past few days.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Bierson agreed.
“It has cooled off some, praise Jesus.”
“Well, you know,” Mrs. Cobb started, “I’m just watching little Gary over there.”
“Which one is Gary?” Mrs. Bierson asked.
“The little boy playing in the sandbox, with the girls.”
“Oh yes, Mrs. Richards’ little boy. He’s always so sweet.”
“Yes,” Mrs. Songs agreed. “He’s a very polite little man. Not like some of the other boys we have here.”
“That’s what concerns me,” Mrs. Cobb said.
The two other teachers looked at her. “What do you mean, Mrs. Cobb?” Mrs. Songs said. “Does he act out in class?”
“Oh dear me, no. No, he behaves well in class and out. But he doesn’t associate much with the boys. He’s usually with the girls, or by himself.”
“Well, maybe he’s a little lady’s man already.” She giggled. “They seem to start younger and younger these days.”
“Praise Jesus, I hope that’s all it is.”
Mrs. Bierson couldn’t take it anymore and openly rolled her eyes. Mrs. Songs maintained composure. “Mrs. Cobb, he’s just a boy, a young boy,” she said.
“Temptation knows no age limit,” she said. She walked back to her classroom and went inside.
“That woman needs therapy!” Mrs. Bierson said.
“She’s still suffering,” Mrs. Songs said.
“It’s been over a year. You think she’d get over it, and not involve everyone in the damn universe.” Mrs. Bierson walked into her classroom. Mrs. Songs stood for a moment longer and looked at the kids in the sandbox, before turning and walking into her classroom. The bell would sound soon to end recess.
Read the rest here.
© 2013, gar. All rights reserved.