54 comments

Contemporary Fiction

“Students! Can you all hear me? Students!” I scream at the top of my lungs.

Dead silence.

Your internet connection is unstable.

No kidding.

Reconnecting…

I have half a mind to close the laptop and just go back to sleep. But I turn off the Wi-Fi and turn it back on. As I join the class again, I plaster a fake smile on my face and wait for it to connect.

As soon as it connects, I check whether they can hear me, and continue the lesson.

I see Roger picking his nose, Charlie picking his teeth and Marlene picking at her plate of food. I have the sudden urge to end the class early, but I keep pushing on, finishing the module on cell structure.

After the class, some students have the courtesy to say ‘have a good day’ while the others log off as fast as their fingers can press the ‘leave’ button.

I end the meeting and close the laptop. Folding my arms on it, I rest my head for a few minutes, my mind already buzzing with lesson plans and worksheets and assignments that I have to make.

But before I can completely surrender to the tempting haven of sleep, I hear the door open, and the jangling of keys.

Edwin is home.

Thank all the gods in the world.

Getting up, my knees almost buckle, having lost all feeling after sitting at my desk for so many hours. I walk to the living room, and lean my head on the wall, watching Edwin as he unties his shoes and takes off his socks.

I wait for him to carefully place all his items in the proper places before I announce my presence with a loud clearing of my throat.

He looks up at me and smiles.

That is enough for my legs to become like jelly again.

The honeymoon phase is still not over.

When the pandemic started, we were quite literally forced to spend all our time with each other. We played all the video games we could, sulked over losing card games, watched movies with my head tucked under his and our fingers intertwined and made a mess of the kitchen every day with our experiments on food.

We had done it all, and I was still in love with him. Even more, because of all of it.

I wait for him to take a shower, and then pounce on him, his body smelling of lavender and his arms a familiar comfort.

That night, as we sit and watch the second-last episode of the television show that we have been binging, my mind soon begins to stray from the plot and characters.

My students are never far from my thoughts.

I am still worried whether they understood my explanation today, what with all the internet issues and time constraint. I make up my mind to teach it again tomorrow and ask them questions, especially the ones who tend to stay silent throughout the class without a care in the world for what is on the screen.

It is not easy at all teaching from kilometres away, not knowing whether the children are awake or asleep, paying attention or playing a game on their phones.

Their parents are more concerned about their every action since the lockdown, and the whole atmosphere would be one of stress in every household.

It is my responsibility to help them out, to see through the façade that they are hiding behind and make them feel at least a bit relaxed and happy.

******

Half the class is over.

After all the camera issues, the connection problems, the distractions and accidental humming and screaming from unmuted microphones, I decide to step in.

“Boys and girls, I think that’s enough of cell structure for today.”

I can almost hear their cheers and sighs of relief through the screens.

“I want you all to answer this question of mine honestly. Be open, don’t hesitate to tell us the truth. We are not any less of a family here, so you can tell us anything.”

I take in a deep breath and let it out.

“What is the difference between the you of today and you before the pandemic?” I ask.

I give them a few minutes to think about it, and I think about it too.

“So, who will initiate this discussion?” I ask.

Dead silence. They still have their thinking faces on, seriously considering my question.

“Okay, since none of you have anything to say, I’ll be the one to break the ice,” I say, and I see all of them lean forward, eager to hear my answer.

“I know that this is something common between all of us, no matter what our ages are or what circumstances we are in, but I know that past me used to take a lot of things for granted,” I say, and I see heads nodding fiercely, some of their faces reflecting their worst memories.

“I took my family for granted, I took my profession for granted, and I took money for granted. Now I understand the value of the things that we think we will never lose. We don’t know what we have until we’ve lost it,” I say, and some eyes go visibly moist.

“So that is the difference between past me and present me. So, who will go next?”

I see the tiny hand icon on Roger, and I urge him to speak out.

“I took my grandparents for granted. I just thought that they would always be there whenever I had a holiday. I just wish that I could take back all the things I told them out of spite, all the phone calls I avoided for lack of anything to say. Now I regret all of it,” he says, and his body slumps, almost in relief after having carried that in his heart for so long.

I offer him words of comfort, and he seems to brighten up after that.

Many others speak out, some saying that they became closer to their friends, they started talking to their parents more, they began spending more family time, they started talking to long lost relatives and old friends.

My heart threatens to almost burst as these young children speak wise words with great maturity, having more understanding of their feelings than I ever did as a child.

I guess it’s true what they say: a teacher always remains a student.

******

March 12, 2021 17:37

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54 comments

23:02 Mar 12, 2021

Honestly, you captured the energy of a remote learning class perfectly. (Not to mention, you nailed the teacher POV. Not that I would know, ofc. I'm not a teacher. XD) The end was so heartwarming that it made my day. The Minor Errors Police didn't have to stop by your house 👏🏾 I loved this story so much! Great great work! :DDD

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Writer Maniac
02:21 Mar 13, 2021

Aww thank you, I'm really glad you liked it!

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02:22 Mar 13, 2021

Yw! :))

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02:22 Mar 13, 2021

Yw! :))

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Valerie June
21:56 Mar 12, 2021

This story was so beautiful! Most of the times students are complaining about school, myself included, but here we were able to see the story from a teacher's POV. The last line was so true and you couldn't have chosen a better title. Mixing children's innocence slightly rubbed off by the pandemic made this story's message much stronger. If you have any spare time do you mind leaving some feedback on my first series? (The first one is 'My Lucky Day, or Is It? if you're interested.) Before I end this comment I have one more thing to tell you...

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Writer Maniac
02:23 Mar 13, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I will be sure to check out your series as soon as possible :)

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Kat Sencen
17:43 Mar 12, 2021

This was an awesome and inspiring story, and I can't believe you did three stories from one contest- I could never do that many! This had some sadness but lots and lots of inspiration. Loved it!!!

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Writer Maniac
17:44 Mar 12, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

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Veda Vivek💎
23:42 Apr 28, 2021

Beautiful writing! Honestly, how do you make me relate to the character so much?! It's insane. The problems of living in a lockdown world :) 🙃😀👍

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Writer Maniac
02:16 Apr 29, 2021

Thank you for reading!

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Radhika Diksha
17:20 Mar 13, 2021

Hey, I have come back. Starting a new series. Would love your comments and feedback. Hope you love this story.

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Writer Maniac
02:32 Mar 14, 2021

I will be sure to read the story soon! What did you think about this story, 'Learning is Lifelong'?

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Radhika Diksha
02:37 Mar 14, 2021

I will read it soon.

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Writer Maniac
02:43 Mar 14, 2021

I also just put out a story right now, would appreciate some feedback on that as well :)

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Jay D Mer
13:52 Mar 13, 2021

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Writer Maniac
15:14 Mar 13, 2021

Aww thank you so much!

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Jay D Mer
20:23 Mar 13, 2021

Of course, S.F. :)

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21:49 Mar 12, 2021

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME A...

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Writer Maniac
02:21 Mar 13, 2021

Aww thank you!

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02:23 Mar 13, 2021

Np! :D

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02:23 Mar 13, 2021

Np! :D

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Felicity Anne
21:08 Mar 12, 2021

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME AUTHOR ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜❤️🧡💛💚💙💜YOU ARE AN AWESOME A...

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Writer Maniac
02:22 Mar 13, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Felicity Anne
03:42 Mar 13, 2021

No problem ❤️

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Arwen Dove
02:30 Apr 29, 2021

Great job!

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Writer Maniac
02:37 Apr 29, 2021

Thank you!

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Nhu Ngoc
06:30 Apr 20, 2021

Such a beautiful story! The opening scene of the story is so real and so "us" haha

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Writer Maniac
06:58 Apr 20, 2021

Thank you! I would love some feedback on 'Forget-Me-Not' :)

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Pippin Took
00:44 Apr 01, 2021

LOVE IT!!! SO RELATABLE

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Writer Maniac
02:16 Apr 01, 2021

Thank you so much! Could you read 'Forget-me-not' and tell me what you think?

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Pippin Took
11:49 Apr 01, 2021

Of course!

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Pippin Took
00:44 Apr 01, 2021

So happy that you got your points back

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Writer Maniac
02:16 Apr 01, 2021

Me too!

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R. B. Leyland
19:20 Mar 20, 2021

Got younger siblings and cousins at school during this, it sounds like you described the video calls perfectly. Even students who's hands are always flying up in class remain silent on the calls by the sounds of it. The fact the teacher cares so much about her students, to the point of it bothering her at nights, is lovely. Well done yet again!

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Writer Maniac
02:37 Mar 21, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! As much as the frontline leaders have done for our sakes during this pandemic, I wanted to give the spotlight to someone else who does something just as great as saving people's lives, by giving them education. I'm glad you liked it! I would appreciate if you left a like on the story if you enjoyed it, and also some feedback on 'Remember that Night' :)

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R. B. Leyland
07:00 Mar 21, 2021

No problem at all! You did a great job. I thought I'd already liked it, I'll do so now! Ill take a look :) I have a new one up if you have time? No problem if not.

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Writer Maniac
07:19 Mar 21, 2021

I'll check it out when I get the time :)

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R. B. Leyland
07:59 Mar 21, 2021

Thank you:)

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Akura Ega Shiro
12:27 Mar 19, 2021

God, I can relate to the unstable connection. Such a pain.

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Writer Maniac
12:31 Mar 19, 2021

Yeah, it really is! Thanks for reading.

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Eric Hyzer
16:53 Mar 17, 2021

I really enjoyed reading this story.... Good work!

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Writer Maniac
02:29 Mar 18, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I would love to hear your thoughts on a story of mine called 'Black and White' :)

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16:02 Mar 17, 2021

Oh, wow, magnificent message, beautiful story. you can seriously write contemporary!, like the emotion was so there, i don't think i can write anything more than fantasy and what should i call you? Writer maniac is....., well a bit off for a name, no offence tho!, sorry!

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Writer Maniac
16:06 Mar 17, 2021

Aww thank you so much, I really appreciate it! You can call me Mania, that's what others call me on Reedsy, I know, my whole username is a bit of a mouthful :D I would love your feedback on a story of mine called 'Not Worth It'

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16:14 Mar 17, 2021

well, thank you for writing such a wonderful story! Mania? aaaarh..., can i call you something else, please?, or even your full name, like that reminds me of, er, insomnia, weird, i know but can I come up with another name? cool, teleporting there in 3, 2, 1.... (by the way, would love to hear your feedback on me new story, sorry if i bothered you!)

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Writer Maniac
02:26 Mar 18, 2021

You can come up with another name if you want to, it's totally up to you :)

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09:29 Mar 14, 2021

Ah yes, to be a student during online school. I really loved this story, and how the perspective was from the teacher, and not the students. The ending tied everything up really nicely, amazing work! :)

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Writer Maniac
12:09 Mar 14, 2021

Thank you, I really appreciate the comment!

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19:53 Mar 14, 2021

No problem! It’s a pleasure to read your work ~ Jasey :)

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J.A. Blackmore
20:43 May 02, 2021

I love this!!! It displays the online learning setting so good, how everyone is just afraid to speak up.

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Writer Maniac
02:11 May 03, 2021

Thank you!

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Graham Kinross
04:01 Apr 13, 2022

I really hate online lessons. There’s no connection compared to teaching in person. If they’re not engaged you can’t get their attention the same way. Improvising is also much harder online when you’re either leaving the camera to get something or waiting for a website to load. This resonated with me a lot.

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Samuel Li
07:16 Jul 26, 2021

WOW. That's all I can say. WOW

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Writer Maniac
07:51 Jul 26, 2021

Thank you :)

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