Young Sadie, lost in a haze of distracted thought, didn’t hear her name being called and continued to gaze absently through the classroom window toward the woods in the distance. She was looking at nothing in particular. It was an escape.
“Sadie Perkins! I’d like to see you outside. … Now!”
The double-barrelled effort to get her attention worked. Sadie snapped back to real time and turned to see a disappointed Mrs. Crowell pointing toward the door.
A chorus of “Ooh …” from Sadie’s classmates resonated about as she rose quietly from behind her desk and made the embarrassing walk across the classroom to the door.
“Quiet, all of you,” Mrs. Crowell admonished, “or you’ll be coming back after school.” She cast a concerned look in Sadie’s direction and opened the door. “After you.”
Sadie, unaccustomed to being singled out for any reason, let alone to be told off, walked timidly into the corridor. She was trembling inside. Her defences rising.
Mrs. Crowell, the school’s deputy headmistress and a kindly, well-put together but stern woman of late middle years, closed the door behind them. The hallway was empty and quiet. She stopped.
“Sadie, please look at me,” she said to the pretty brown-haired girl with the big, sad brown eyes.
Sadie could already feel tears welling up, but couldn’t understand why. All she’d done was stare out the window. With hesitation she looked into Mrs. Crowell’s steely blue eyes.
“What’s wrong, Sadie?” The usually intimidating deputy headmistress asked with a gentleness Sadie had not been expecting. “Why do you stare out the window?Why don’t you pay attention in class? I’m concerned about your progress in math, but I’m also worried about you. Is something wrong?”
The 15-year-old girl choked back her tears. Something was wrong. Something was definitely wrong, but there was no way to speak of it. She coped with her deep agony by drifting away, far away in her mind to far off thoughts she never reached. To dreams she could not identify.
“Such a good and responsible girl, is our Sadie,” people would say about her ability to cook meals, care for her siblings and housekeep all while trying to maintain an active school and social life. Long days putting others needs first.
Sadie’s thoughts wandered off the edge of the world in search of something lost. Innocence, perhaps? She did not know. She could never find it.
She was exhausted, so much so her ability to focus and discipline herself at school was next to impossible. She was as smart as any of the other kids in her top-tier class at school, but too distant, too distracted to make anything of it. Many of her marks reflected this.
She escaped the weight of her responsibilities at home by staring out of windows.
“Sadie … are you there?”
Tears poured down young Sadie’s pink cheeks.
Mrs.Crowell pulled a clean tissue from her pocket and handed it over.
“Listen, whatever it is I would like to help you. Would that be okay? Would you be willing to meet with me in my office tomorrow at lunch time?”
Sadie wiped away the cheap mascara gathering in pools beneath her eyes and sniffed. It didn’t sound like an order but she didn’t feel like she could, or even wanted to, refuse. Somewhere deep inside she felt something positive stir.
“Good. I’m glad. You are an intelligent girl and deserve to do better in school. Let’s see what we can sort out for you. In the meantime, do you think you could try to focus a little more during my lessons?”
As math was Sadie’s weakest subject she wasn’t sure what she could promise.
Mrs. Crowell smiled and patted Sadie on the arm.
“Okay, then. Let’s go back inside and start things fresh.”
Sadie wiped away her tears and took a deep breath. How unfamiliar it was to feel this pat on the back. Could she trust it? Dare she?
Mrs. Crowell opened the door and ushered Sadie back to her seat. But for the scratching of pencils on paper, while students worked out their sums, all was quiet.
The next day, Sadie went to Mrs. Crowell’s office, and they talked. There was the promise of more lunch hour meetings and for once in her life Sadie began to feel something resembling hope. The teacher who had once intimidated her was becoming something new; something she’d never experienced ~ someone who genuinely cared about her needs and wanted to help her grow. A mentor.
Two months later the kindly teacher was claimed by cancer.
Sadie returned to staring out the window.
My response to this week’s Free Write Friday challenge from Kellie Elmore. Ends on a bit of a downer but who knows where the free write will take us.
Thanks for visiting …
©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014