“Mr. B, this is kind of whack.”
Sean fidgets on the stool in the middle of the class, balancing an apple in one hand and a pencil in the other. The other students watch intently, a couple of them cracking a smile at Sean’s balancing act.
“Sean, you volunteered for this position so that you wouldn’t have to do the writing assignment.”
Mr. Belvidere sits perched on his own stool towards the rear of the classroom, scribbling in his notebook, focused but a little adrift from his class.
“I’m just sayin’, Mr. B…”
The entire class looks up, all eyes on Mr. Belvidere. They heard his voice, but the tone was different. Something popped in his pronunciation of “stop.”
Mr. Belvidere walks up to Sean and takes the apple and pencil from his hands. He continues forward to the white board and knocks both items on the marker tray, but he does not turn back to his students. His hands rest upon the tray, head gazing down and against the board. Quizzical, confused, his pupils start to exchange glances, and glances turn to whispers.
“Quiet!” demands Mr. Belvidere, and the whole class returns to silence. He lifts up his head and speaks into the white board.
“Why do we write?”
No one responds. Something in Mr. Belvidere’s deep tone scares his class into mutes.
“Why do we write? Why do we say things?”
One brave soul decides to answer, “To express our feelings?”
Mr. Belvidere smacks the white board and spins to face the class, armed with an extended index finger.
“Ex-actly!” He stares down his students with a fiery gaze. “We do not… We do not ever say or write things merely to state them, to be objective.
“We are not going to be bureaucrats, politicians, void of all emotion. We are not going to be bland, heartless robots that spit out facts. We are NOT going to be…”
Mr. Belvidere ganders the classroom, but his eyes fall on an open seat. Jennilee’s seat. His heart pounds from his chest and pumps his tear ducts into full stream.
“…we are not going to be heartless,” simmers Mr. Belvidere. “We’re better than that, my friends. We’re better than hiding behind objectivity and snide, empty comments, to be irresponsible with our words. We are artists who feel, who express.”
He takes a moment to compose himself, sniveling back his tears. He turns back to the white board and paces forward, and retrieves a ruby red marker.
“I want everyone to write one page for tomorrow. One page of what it means to be.” In the largest font possible, Mr. Belvidere scrawls “BE” on the white board.
The students look at each other, shaken and confused. “Single- or double-spaced?” a girl asks.
“I will leave that to your discretion. Class dismissed.”
Mr. Belvidere throws the marker onto the tray and storms out of the classroom. The students remain seated, unsure if they should leave a full 20 minutes early while the entire school is still in period. Not a soul dares to murmur, and all that is heard is the slow click of the door latch echoing the hollow room.