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Mr. Andrews told me to Stay After Class
'Jenna, can you stay after class for a few minutes? I'll write you a pass.' Damn it. 'Of
course I can, Mr. Andrews.'
'Good.' Pause. 'Good.' I watch as the rest of the class files out of the two classroom
doors without a second glance at me. Not a single friend waits for me as I stand helplessly,
waiting for Mr. Andrews to close the doors behind them and turn back to his desk. He sits down in
his big chair as I lean awkwardly against a desk.
'Sorry about this, Jenna. I just wanted to figure out a better seat to put you in without
interrupting the lesson. I know you came to me earlier and asked to have your seat moved closer to
the front to see the chalkboard.' I stared blankly at him before responding.
'Oh, yeah, sure. Uh, anywhere you put me up front is fine. I don't'.I don't have any
preferences or anything like that.' Nice, Jenna, stutter back to your teacher. Real smooth.
'Oh, no, I get it. Going through vision problems is really a pain you know where. I just hope
you get your glasses soon so you can see well.' He takes out his glasses case and puts it on his
desk. I didn't know he wore glasses.
'I'm not getting any glasses.' He looks straight into my eyes. I quickly add an apology.
'Hey, what are you apologizing for? I shouldn't have assumed anything. Besides, I hear
contacts are all the rage now.'
'Actually, I'm not getting any of those either. I just see kind of blurry when I'm tired.
You know, so I guess my vision's fine then.'
'Why are you so tired? You should be getting more sleep; you look like crap by the way.' Okay,
he made me laugh. Just a little.
'Yeah, thanks Mr. Andrews. It's just that I'm out usually until pretty late, uh, studying at
the library. I don't get home for a while, but no biggy. I'll just try not to catch the zzzzs
'The library closes at 9.'
'Well, then after that I go to my friend's house to study. I don't get home from there until
11 or 12.' I'm staring at my shoes again.
'Needless to say you need your sleep, Jenna. After a long day in my class, I know I'd kill to
breathe the nice, fresh air of my house. This school is so congested, it's a wonder we get air at
all.' Funny, funny guy.
'Trust me Mr. A, the air in my house is not fresh. I practically, whats the word, asphyxiate in
'Oh. Is it that bad?'
'Well, I guess it wouldn't be so bad if it was just my dad, but his guy friends don't even
smoke outside!' Pause. 'We have his friends over a lot.'
'Well, that's just bad manners, Jenna. You should tell them that. In fact, you should persuade
them not to smoke. It's so bad for their health.' Like I haven't tried that before.
'Oh, no. They'd kill me. Really they would. I just let them smoke, it's easier. And I
think it lets their nerves more.'
'They wouldn't kill you; I can't imagine anyone wanting to kill you for trying to save their
'Then you haven't met these guys, Mr. Andrews, they can be a rough group. And I'm not going
to be their outlet if I don't need to be.' Damn straight.
'If you don't need to be?' Of course if I don't need to be!
'Yeah, how would you like it if someone took a day's worth of troubles and put them on your
shoulders? I figure smoking will help them stop being toward aggressive. Maybe then I can get some
sleep!' I can feel my body tensing from the shoulders down to my toes.
'Aggressive towards you?'
'Sure, I'm easy. I'm a walking target the moment I walk through my front door. Tell me, do I
have a kick me sign on my back?' Even I'm surprised at the high pitch of my voice.
He speaks quietly. 'No, Jenna, you don't. And you shouldn't. Ever.'
'I shouldn't!' I'm pacing now. 'I shouldn't because I didn't do anything. You
remember when you were a kid and you were punished when you did something wrong?'
'Jenna, what did you do wrong?'
'NOTHING! I never do anything wrong! All those guys that hang around my house, they're the ones
doing wrong. But they don't take consequences for what they do, no, they just lay it down on me.
Like it's my fault they're a bunch of depressed drunks.' 'How do you mean, lay it out?'
I thrust up both my sleeves, revealing to the school and to myself for the first time the purple and
red welts that have been hiding since the 6th grade. Tears stream from my eyes like a faucet turned
on high power, so fast that my face burns from the heat. It stings and I back away from Mr.
Andrews, because it's his fault. He sits calmly at his desk, staring at my arms. It's his
fault. 'Stop.' I'm whispering, I can't make out a full sentence through my sobs.
'Please, stop.' I beg like a kicked dog. 'Please.'
After many moments of silence, he turns to me. 'So the window seat in the front left row is
Pause. Pause. Pause. 'Yes.' Pause. 'Yes, that's fine.'
'Alright.' He hands me the pass. 'Thanks.'
I gather myself up and roll down my sleeves. 'Yeah. Bye.'
He follows me to the door and opens it for me. I walk out and down the hall, down to my next class.
After I leave, he makes the call. The call for me.