History Wields A Sharp Knife

Alex is wanted, wanted by men for her elfish looks and complete disinterest, wanted by friends for her gentle charm and permanent child minding availability, wanted by her class for her anecdotes of life in a world removed to her typical 8 year olds, but more recently, since she was reported missing, wanted by the police. David Smith or Green or Joe Reddington or whichever alias felt good that day, he wanted her most of all and today he has his catch, today he has Alex.


2. June 2011

Every year I got a new box of chocolates, there was never a leaflet explaining which chocolates were which flavour, but the mixture was always the same, a few nutty ones, a sensible caramel or fudge that I could rely on for stoicism, and a handful of soft centres that needed to be handled with care, especially in hot weather so they didn't melt into a sticky mess. I now beamed at my box of chocolates, also known as class 8T. Today the box was quiet, even the pineapple heart was subdued in concentration. The sun was out and the school was baking, shafts of sunlight ripped through the windows and surely penetrated into the storerooms below. I wondered what the light would be like in that room, spooky, or magical.

I regarded the class with fondness and a smidgen of jealousy, ignorance really is bliss, unless you find yourself on the wrong side of the fist of a brazil nut and 'miss' is nowhere in sight. I wondered how many people wouldn't notice the lift, the goodness, the feeling of warmth and gentle lapping of appreciation that slowly erodes away worries and doubts; all of this from my (now) well marshaled class. I really did love my job, at least the none paperwork, none political side of it.

My phone flashed, always silent in class and often silent after when I neglected to switch it back to normal, a text from Cheryl, a request for baby sit Saturday eve. I'd reply later, as ever I would do it, no real life of my own to interfere with Cheryls, in my head that sounded bitter but didn't feel it, Cheryl was just more of a socialite than I, anyway her daughter Sophie was super charming and often provided more thoughtful chat than many an adult I could name.

The bell sounded, "As always please remember to do your homework tonight class, excuses such as my dog ate my homework or even the dog did my homework will not be permitted even if your dog may score higher marks than you Justin Edwards" he rolled his eyes, the class chuckled but were already door bound and planning their social lives for the day now that the boring bit was over. The organised ones were already gone, the clumsy struggled to close their bags and manage not to trip over the litter of slightly lilliputian furniture. Finally the classroom was empty and I did my routine circuit to straighten the room, lock the windows, check the cupboards, shutdown the computers, clear the whiteboard.

I walked back to the staffroom without my usual spider sense.

"Alex, whats your opinion?" Demanded Mr Pearson, head of PE but not an especially well respected member of staff, in fact 'head of' was little more than a title really it seemed he was head of some gym equipment. Clearly the topic was already emotional whatever it was.

"Yes it's true, well yes after some deliberation, I have to agree with you one hundred percent, the world is definitely not flat. Please let me know if you have any other points of contention." I suggested, raised an odd smile but not with Mr Pearson.

"No no I mean these new assessment forms, how much Free time do they think we have? Surely you're not supporting them are you?" I could have a reasonable guess at who 'they' were but I definitely wasn't supporting them although briefly I pictured myself at a stadium with a banner decreeing Go Team Assessment Forms!

"Does anyone know if we still have to complete the EC57s? That would give us some time back." I asked this with no foundation whatsoever but as a ruse to divert attention to a new topic and away from my fence sitting pose on a subject I hadn't read the requisite memos about. It worked, or Mr Pearson decided in an instant I wasn't an immediately ally he could rely on. The discussion switched to the school secretary and EC57s while I snuck past the gaggle of teachers obstructing the main thoroughfare to check the internal mail.

"Well dodged" whispered Mrs Jackson with a conspiratorial smile, the smile I returned knowingly.

At this point the head walked in and our meeting began, touching many mindless and often obvious topics, but not the new assessment forms to Mr Pearsons chagrin.

40 minutes later and school was really out for the day, I almost skipped out of the school, feeling somewhat dirtied by the meeting, into glorious weather and lung filling, sunshine endorsed fresh air. I hopped into my Volkswagen, switched on the music (Zoe - Sunshine on a rainy day) and wound down the windows. Right now I felt high on life. How my journey was about to change my life I wouldn't appreciate for some time to come.


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