James heard them in the hall, little animals. God he hated children, they didn’t start to become real people until at least their early twenties. Another term starting, another term of having to pretend to care about their petty problems, the little disease ridden monkeys.
He sat down at his desk and started to review his paperwork, new intake forms, curriculum updates, discipline reports from problem students he hadn’t managed to bounce out to become someone else’s problem.
Every year they came back, filled the once clean halls with their shrieking, shrill voices, their dirty footprints, snotty noses, germs. It seemed that once school was in session he got every cold, every flu, every possible illness. The first discipline cases of the new year would show up soon, they always did. It took the little buggers less than a day to start flouting the rules. His strap might not make it out until the next day, but it would probably happen today.
He knew they hated him, of course… if they didn’t hate him he wasn’t doing his job. If they didn’t hate him he was failing them, failing to prepare them for the world. Failing not just them, but society, by not providing it with properly civilized citizens. He had often considered giving it up, going into a field where he wasn’t exposed to them every day, but they would end up with some friendly hippie, and then he truly would have failed them.
A knock on the door. It had started already. “Come in”.
Ms. Chambers walked in, a small boy in tow. “This is Jeremy. He called Mr. Bentham a cunt. Jeremy, this is Principal Clayton.”
“Thank you Ms. Chambers. You can leave Jeremy with me.”
Ms. Chambers walked out, her heels clicking on the marble floor.
“Jeremy. What should I do with you?”
“Speak up boy. I hate it when children mumble. Better to be silent than to mumble.”
“I’m sorry sir. She yelled at me. I didn’t mean to forget my bag. Please, it was a mistake, I’m sorry.” the boy was blubbering now, caving under John’s stern gaze. It was infuriating. How could such a useless creature continue to exist?
“Alright son. We’re going to have to call your mother.”
“Please don’t do that sir, please?” the boy was begging.
“And why not?”
“She was working last night, late. She didn’t get in until I was already up for school.”
“What does your mother do for a living son?”
“I don’t know. She has to work all night, but she doesn’t tell me what she does.”
Everything clicked. The jacket that was too thin for the weather, the shoes with holes in them, the dark circles under the young boys eyes.
“Son, you can’t call a teacher names like that. You won’t do it again right?”
“We’ll let it go this time, but you can’t tell anyone.”
He didn’t need to make this boy hard, the world was already doing that.