The bell rang and Nan scooped up the books on the desk ready to charge for the door. She slipped clumsily and instead of charging through the door, she hooked her right foot around the leg of the lab stool. She went down. It wasn’t pretty. The books flew out from her arms to land noisily on the floor. The mid-term papers she had just collected from the class sprayed out across the front of the room.
It was her own personal stage of embarrassment. And in case you were wondering-yes, the class was still in.
Nan moved her neck slowly. She wasn’t looking for broken bones. No, she was trying to avoid raising her eyes in the direction of the now very silent class room.
‘Why don’t they just leave?’ she thought to herself.
Quickly, the sound of footsteps, chattering, bags zipping, running, whoops and cheers could be heard in the hallway.
‘Why don’t they just leave?’ she thought to herself again.
Nan slowly lifted her head but dared not look at them.
“Gee, I think she’s alive-maybe?” someone whispered at the back of the room.
“What a freak show. Am outta here.” Another voice said. It was louder. With that there was the sound of lab stools shuffling hastily on the ceramic tile floors.
The sound of moving bodies and stomping feet whizzing past her, made Nan lower her head once more.
“Are you…are you ok Miss Nan?” someone was asking.
Nan didn’t know whether to be thankful or just stick to feeling mortified.
“Let’s get out of here! She’s fine.” With that the would-be rescuer was whisked away.
Soon the room was in silence. Or rather, one notch below silence. Except for that nagging whistle that often blew in her head. No one else ever heard it. When she asked, others would say she was imagining things.
The room was empty.
Nan slowly pulled her legs up under her and was soon kneeling on all four. She felt stable. Slowly she raised her hands and reached for the desk to pull herself up. The elevated stage that served as her teaching platform in the biology lab was now her comedy podium. She looked around at the scattered papers and sprawled books.
Nan sighed. She stared at the mess for another minute. Nan bit her lip and then cursed. It wasn’t like her to curse but then it wasn’t like her to do what she was now about to do either.
Nan walked on top of the pile of paper and books and headed to the door. Her heel caught slightly between the pages of zoology 101 but she quickly righted herself and strode on to the door.
Just as she was walking out, she nearly bumped into Mr. Green, the principal.
“Miss Nan, you are late for the meeting.” Mr. Green looked at his watch and tapped the face.
“How dare you make us wait for…” Mr. Green shut his moth just as quickly as he had opened it.
Nan brushed past him and walked on down the corridor.
That was not like Miss Nan at all. Mr. Green delighted in giving his teachers a good jolt each day to keep them on their toes. He especially liked pestering Miss Nan. She was the kind that quivered easily and that made him squirm with pleasure inside.
But not today. Mr. Green stared at the back of Nan as she walked right up to the front doors and exited.
Nan walked past the playgrounds and the bus stops. By now the student body volume was much depleted. The few that remained took to silence as Nan passed by. It might have been considered impolite to point out to Nan that her hair was rather frazzled and her blouse was sitting untidily out of her skirt. No, it was more likely that the spectacle was appreciated for the amusement it gave.
Nan walked past her tiny yellow Toyota corolla in the staff parking lot and headed for the main street. The apartment that Nan shared with her husband Trell was nearly six kilometers away. The distance didn’t bother her today.
Heads turned and horns honked as Nan walked in front of moving cars and violated pedestrian laws.
Nan stood in front of the black and brown brick building that was home for seven years. She looked up at the terrace on the fourth floor. The window was open and Blackey lay comfortably on the ledge purring ad waiting for her to get home.
“Blackey, you understand it all don’t you?” Nan spoke up to the cat.
Nan had made up her mind. Crazy times call for crazy action. Today was the climax. Nan was ready.
The apartment door was open as always. Nan turned the knob and walked in. she wasn’t prepared for the surprise.
“You going to stand in the door all day. Get inside. And for heaven’s sake what’s wrong with your hair-and your skirt?”
Nan stood frozen in the door way.
“What are you doing here? You didn’t…”
“Oh now I need a royal invitation to come visit my daughter? You are my daughter aren’t you? I thought you at least knew how to dress yourself up.”
“I’m right here.” Trell came from the kitchen with something in his hand. Pot roast. It was his mother in law’s favorite.
‘God, they’re at it again. Why the hell didn’t he just marry her?’
“Oh you shouldn’t have Trell. I hate to put you out of the way. You really work too hard.”
“It’s nothing. You know I love cooking for you mom.”
‘Did he…did he just blush?’
Nan looked from Trell to her mother and from her mother to Trell.
“Awww, you work so hard my son. How are things at that firm of yours?”
“I love what I do mom. And well, there may be talk of promotion soon I think.”
Trell beamed as he spoke slicing pot roast and adding to his mother in law’s plate.
“Oh!” Nan’s mom said delighted.
Nan watched her mom clasp her mouth with both hands. Nan felt like she was going to throw up. The scene was too much.
“Why can’t you ever give me some good news too Nan?
Sometimes I wander if you are my biological daughter. I swear I…”
“I quite school today. I’m starting a chicken and pig farm.”
Trell’s fork dropped the same time Nancy’s jaw did.
“Shoat, porcine, sus, swine, piglet, I plan to raise them.” Nan looked unwaveringly at the duo at the table.
“Nan, honey, did something happen today?” Trell asked.
“Chickens too. White leghorn, golden comet, rhode island. I’m going to raise them for eggs and chicken meat.”
“Stop it! Just stop it would you?” Nancy stood up from the table, her chair etching the floor as it was shoved out behind her.
“God Nan! It’s been fifteen years since you’ve uttered such absurdity. What about the Master’s in zoology you said you would do. Remember you want to be a professor at the…”
“No mom! You want me to be a teacher and a professor and someone that looks smart. I don’t.” Nan said defiantly.
Nancy was shocked. It showed all over her face.
“Nan, be serious for a moment. You’re talking nonsense. Think of me and Trell.”
“Nonsense?” No mom. It’s what I want to do. What I’ve always wanted to do. It’s why I studied Zoology. Not so I could teach and look smart to make you happy.”
Nancy looked at Nan and Nan looked at Nancy.
Trell picked up his fork, took a stab at the roast on his plate and shoved it into his mouth. He chewed slowly.
“You two can do what you want, as you always have, from now on I’m joining the club. I’m making the decisions for me that I want to make.”
Trell stabbed another piece of meat, chucked it and chewed slowly.
“Well I…I don’t understand dear. Why swine and leghorn?”
“You don’t have to understand mom. It would have been nice if you just accepted it and tried to be on my side for once.”
Nancy looked her daughter up and down as though she was suddenly seeing her for the first time. Then she sat back down at the table.
“Would you care for some roast darling? And perhaps you could share a bit about your swine and leghorn.”
Nan approached the table gingerly. She took a seat slowly. She reached for a plate and slowly sliced a piece of roast.
Trell and Nancy watched her with awe.