Sometimes subtle irony isn't the thing that gets you through life.
No one smiles back at me the way I used to do at her. I don’t even expect them to. They’re too young to understand what I’m telling them…
I sigh and go on with the lesson.
It’s my first month of teaching here, at Saint-James primary school, and I already feel as if I’ve chosen the wrong career. The school headmaster called me into his office yesterday and gave me my first monthly review. I was mildly interested in what he had to say to me.
“Please, please, sit down,” he told me as I entered the room. Gesturing towards the chair in front of him was useless, from my point of view, but I think he had to do it purely out of politeness.
His eyes peered back down into the papers he had been reading when I entered the room and his eyes smiled. The slight movements of the hairs on his moustache made me think his mouth curved into a smile as well.
“Interesting,” he mumbled and seemingly reread a sentence again. “It says here,” he continued, “that you are currently studying for your doctoral thesis.”
I nodded, acquiescing, then mumbled a soft ‘yes’, thinking that the man might not have noticed my movements, since his body was still slightly hunched over what I deduced to be my files.
“It also states that you preferred to move from the patronage of Barbara Wells in favor of Michael McMillan.”
I take in a sharp breath as he mentions her name.
“That is quite strange, you know,” he added, and finally decided to look up at me. “Why would you want to do such a thing, Miss Alexandra?” He proceeded to fumble with his moustache and look at me in an intrigued manner. “Not that I don’t respect the high quality of Mister McMillan’s teachings, but Barbara Wells is the leading scholar in all matters related to Proust. If one such as yourself would have opted for Yyves Tanguy for example, then yes, Mister McMillan would have been the obvious choice, but I am afraid I do not understand the way in which you were thinking on this particular matter.”
The headmaster does so love to tangle himself up in pretty, but very much useless, words.
“I have had a good relationship with Misses Wells in my last year at University, but I though that for my thesis a different approach would have been for the best.” A well practiced phrase, I must say.
“Well,” he sighed and leaned a bit back forwards, “it’s your thesis. The children so far seem to enjoy their classes, and that’s the important thing after all. We are here for them firstly and then for us, correct?”
I nodded. I liked the children too, in my own way. Just not as much as I would have thought I would. But maybe that’s neither my nor their fault. It’s all in the circumstances, I believe.
“It is quite interesting to see the children so fond of their French classes, truth be told. They usually are more, let’s say, unreceptive to this language. But I suppose the teacher has something to do with that sort of thinking more than the children do.”
I nodded again, this time sure he saw me.
“Well, I think that is it for today,” he said, clapping his hands together and afterwards extending one forward to grab mine and shake it. “Do the best job you can Miss. We here at Saint James expect only the best from our faculty members.”
I shook his hand clumsily and registered his silence as a sign that I should excuse myself from the room.
I wanted to go home to Christine and mope, but I still had one more class for the day. Another wondrous chance to teach the many forms of/ avoir/. Oh, won’t the children be just pleased…
I wish things were different…