By Jessica Carroll
††††††††††† All the lights are off, which is normal, considering that Mr. Davis doesnít have a homeroom. Iím sitting in one of the wooden desks in the back left corner of the room. All the windows are open, but the old gray blinds are all pulled down, allowing no light to enter the room. The drone of the principalís voice over the loudspeaker fills the emptiness of the room. I cringe in anger at her. She cares about nothing other than the stamp with her signature engraved into it. She doesnít know. She doesnít care. She makes me angry.
Mr. Davisís desk is neater than ever. Not a single item lies on the glass that covers itís wooden top. Although the glass is chipped in some of the corners, it still has that brand new shine. I know Iím alone, but I just donít feel it. Perhaps itís Mr. Davis. I donít know. All I know is that I have a really creepy feeling about things and I canít wait for the bell to ring so I donít have to be alone anymore.
The walls are white, but dirty. I assume that they haven't been painted in at least ten years. They now look like they were originally painted beige, but it's only a layer of dirt, film, and smoke that has accumulated over the years. There are scuffmarks from shoes near the bottom of the walls where people traffic in the room, more densely in the doorway. In one spot in a corner, the paint is peeling. I can count seven layers underneath the current layer. I imagine all the years of dirt and scuffmarks that have been painted over. It disgusts me.
The bell rings. The students pile into the classroom through the narrow wooden doorframe, yelling and pushing and chattering amongst themselves. The clicks of high heels come down the rows, approaching me, then cease when the girls sit down. No one notices me sitting in the back, a tattered notebook on my desk and a sharpened pencil in my hand. I plan to sit here all day, writing about the room in my journal. It all just seems very appropriate.
††††††††††† The students continue their constant chattering, growing louder by the second. No one really notices the absence of the teacher. One student scratches obscenities into the hardwood top of her desk. She shows it to another student and they laugh. Two girls are at the blackboard in the front of the class, playing hangman. Another two girls are discussing their boyfriends while one of them paints her nails. She accidentally knocks over the bottle and the pastel pink liquid stains the floor. The girls try to clean it up, but are unsuccessful. The coloring becomes wedged between the strips of wood on the floor. After a while, they ignore the fact that itís there and go on talking and painting each otherís nails.
The assignments from yesterday are still written out in Mr. Davis's perfect handwriting. "Assignments" is written in white, and it looks like it hasn't been erased since September. The juniors' assignments are written in green chalk, and the seniors' are written in blue. No one mentions the assignments or asks when they are due. No one cares.
The bell rings again and thereís a stampede of girls piling in and out of the room. A book bag on wheels rolls across the hardwood floor. Girls jump out of the way to avoid tripping over it. The girls sit and chat quietly in a whisper, hoping a teacher won't come into the room. After a few minutes, one of them gets up and closes the door. No one cares where Mr. Davis is; they just don't want to have class. Books open on the wooden tops of the desks. The sounds of papers being shuffled surround me as the girls struggle to complete assignments that are due later in the day.
No one laughs over the missing chalk tray from the time Big Amy tripped and pulled it down while trying to use it as a last resort in regaining her balance. No one smiles over the ďJamie Loves JohnnyĒs and the ďSuzie Loves BillyĒs that are carved into the desktops and the corners of the black board. They simply donít remember.
Years from now, they will look back on their memories and remember things like Big Amyís klutziness and their past loves Ė forever etched in desktops, but none of them will ever think of Mr. Davis, or all the things he taught or would have taught them. After today, none of them will even think of Mr. Davis again. There will be more important things for them to discuss Ė boys, makeup, that assignment that theyíre not going to do. There will be a new teacher. Right now the future isnít a concern to them. The only things on their minds are the notes theyíre passing and the voice mail left by boyfriends. Too bad they missed the most important memo. Mr. Davis had died the night before.