Darren's Story Wilfred's Story Molly's Story Cindy's Story
Sansky sat at the front of the bus on his way home; the school kids behind him were making a ruckus as usual. Each morning and afternoon that he rode the bus he was met with the same sensation – Shame. It was the worst possible way to start and end his workday. He passed the time inside his head, cursing and taunting himself. You’re pathetic Sansky. Why don’t you just kill yourself already. Nobody will give a shit.
All his life he had believed in the mystical power of logic and reason – in numbers. You can’t argue with a number. You could write a thousand books and a million poems on why second place is better than first, but in the end first place is the winner. Número uno. Case closed.
“Oi Sansky!” a voice shouted from behind him. He turned and saw a busload of blank and half snickering faces. Nobody stood out. It was a male student he deduced silently as he turned around. The children resumed their pointless chatter, except now they had something fresh and new to laugh about.
Sansky had never been number 1. As a teacher he had always struggled. He was to be a scientist but decided to start his career in teaching because he thought the holidays would suit him better. But after years of dealing with shithead children and counter-evolutionary bureaucracy he had suffered an internal nervous breakdown. He was hanging on only by the fact that he thought insanity to be illogical. He wasn’t crazy; he was just a pussy.
“Saaaaanskyyyyy,” the voice droned. He took his time to turn around. He saw no point in showing desperation by swinging his head to catch the perpetrator. The students smiled and giggled expectantly, waiting to see what he would do. The voice came from near the back of the bus, but not quite the very back. It was deep enough to be that of a grade ten student or above.
He had entered a groove in his teaching after five years or so. He would put up and shut up and maybe one day his life would be changed. He would find the perfect woman to invigorate his world with love, and with his new found confidence he would enter his chosen scientific field. This plan had worked perfectly to date; that is, he still remained waiting. He would sometimes secretly fall in love with new teachers but they invariably failed to notice he existed.
“You a virgin, Sansk?” The voice yelled out. The bus erupted in laughter. Sansky took his time. Usually he would just withstand. His stop would come in a few more minutes. Put Up; Shut Up. PUSU. Almost spells pussy he mused to himself. He smiled at the wordplay. It was fitting after his day’s lesson. Not in math class, but at the Poetry Qualifiers.
Poetry was one of his pet hates. It makes no sense. Even if it rhymed it was just stupid and pointless. Poetry won’t plot the orbit of a satellite or cure a disease. He felt this anti poetry passion before Wilfred Petterson came to Wakefield Flats. Before Wilfred made poetry bigger than the Beatles – bigger than the Beatles when they were bigger than Jesus. Math at its most popular was always a loathsome subject for most students, but after Wilfred came, participation and interest waned to all time lows. Math students stopped getting awards for their outstanding achievements; even the science classes were abandoned for extra curricular poetry subjects. It was bullshit.
But now Sansky could feel it. This student, Kevin Aitch, had unwittingly fallen into a pattern. Sansky could have summarised it into a simple formula and graph. He counted it down in his head. Four...Three...Two...He stood, pivoting on his heel performing a smooth 180 and shot his gaze directly at Kevin. “You hear me, San-” Kevin shut up and cowered but he knew he had been spotted. The bus fell to a hush. It was stationed at the most recent stop and it wasn’t about to pull out. Even the bus driver had to see this.
Sansky had never understood poetry until this day; the day that Darren Edgars, a brain dead 10th grader looking for any key to unlock the cell of his virginity, read his poem. A poem which was to become the catalyst that changed Sansky’s life. It struck him deep down in his soul and stirred awake the fear and inertia inside him that stood guard for him; protecting him from happiness.
Sansky calmly walked to the back of the bus, parting a sea of awe-struck students. He stopped at Kevin’s seat. Kevin was easily 20kg heavier and would have demolished Sansky in a fist fight, but as he sat looking up at his tauntee, he felt Sansky emanating physical superiority (this was the first time he had ever emanated superiority in any form in his life). Remaining still and dominant, Sansky stared into the face of fear. It stared back, reflecting its true nature. Kevin had the look of a lamb realising, just moments before its final breath, that it had been brought to a house of slaughter.
“Well…Are ya?” Kevin scoffed in an attempt to swing the scenario back to his advantage. He looked around with a goofball sneer but received no support from his peers. He was alone.
“That’s a good question, Kevin. In fact, I am a virgin.” Sansky felt he was getting the hang of words, of timing and flow. He decidedly conceded a little ground to Kevin but just before the slow witted juvenile could step forward he stole the rug from under his feet. “But since I told the truth, perhaps you can now reciprocate,” he offered with a sinister sincerity.
“Uhh no,” he scoffed again, looking around for his peers support again – seemingly his only move. They did not respond and he sank further into himself. He had no plan. He didn’t know Sansky would react like this. This guy’s a virgin, why isn’t anyone laughing at him? He wanted to present his argument but found no courage buried away in his racing heart.
“Oh, of course not,” Sansky said mockingly. “You’re the brother of Jonny Aitch! The coolest guy to ever go to Wakefield Flats. You know I heard he had already slept with 10 girls at the age of thirteen. Was that at the age of thirteen? Or was it that the last 10 girls he slept with were all aged thirteen? Better watch out Kevin, if you bring home any girls from school Jonny will just fuck them all. But then have you brought any girls home? Have you really slept with any girls, Kevin? Or did you see how Jonny turned out? In and out of prison; probably had his own cherry popped while he was there. I’m thinking you decided maybe that’s not the life for you?”
“Shut up!” Kevin squealed, his voice breaking. Inside, his anger and fear clashed in a storm of emotion. He needed to release it but only felt it bubbling over and dripping out his nose. He sniffled instinctively and pawed at the draining muck. He realised he was crying and then realised that everyone else realised it. A tear raced down the edge of his nose, he began shaking like a baby.
Sansky could destroy this student right now, simply by using words. He reached out and placed his hand on Kevin’s shoulder in a fatherly gesture. “It’s OK, Kevin. You’re not your brother and you don’t have to be,” he said soothingly. “Just search for what’s true inside of you and stop living to the expectations of others.”
Sansky was amazed at the words as they exited his mouth. He was speaking as much to himself and everyone on that bus. As he walked back down the aisle, parting the red sea once more, he hopped off even though it wasn’t his stop. He thought it was a fitting way to close out the dramatic events – poetic even. As he walked home, his mind clear and focused, he decided it was about time he bought a car.
The next day was the greatest day of Sansky’s life. Each class he taught with confidence and a smile and the students responded. Cindy Winchester, sporting a fresh black eye sat attentively at the front of class, asking questions about the work and diligently struggling to understand. Next to her, Molly Bingwall politely assisted in explaining the confusing algebra and the two girls stayed studying with Sansky 20 minutes after class during lunch; eating into their eating time.
Darren, to Sansky’s disappointment, was missing. He learned that the little poet had received a considerable beating and was stationed in hospital. He went to visit most days to talk about his inspiration and offer support. Curiously he often found Wilfred Petterson sitting at his bedside talking all things poetry. He enjoyed sitting in on the conversations which often featured some extravagant wordplay. At times he dared to share some of his own fledgling work with the word wizards. They were encouraging though he could tell they were just being nice.
One time he was about to enter when he saw Wilfred leaning over to kiss Darren on the cheek, pausing, and then daring to kiss him on the lips. Sansky couldn’t see whether or not Darren was awake or asleep.
But back to the greatest day of Sansky’s life. He had one last duty to perform before heading home. He sat marking some papers as Molly entered for her detention. The two had mended their teacher/favourite student relationship since Sansky’s outburst earlier that week and enjoyed a relaxing conversation ranging from physics to Molly’s plans for her career – which isn’t such a vast range because Molly planned to be a physicist. They talked of the changes they had both experienced which had so suddenly propel their lives in new directions and the refreshing outlook they have found on the end of it. They made each other laugh and could feel something special; something they had never felt before.
Neither can remember who made the first move. All they recall is a blur of emotion. They embraced each other in an uncontrollable moment of passion. Sansky could not withdraw, he knew this was beyond lust. He had found something greater. He thought of the hypocrisy of what he said to Kevin the day before but he gave it no weight. The two made love and no detail, no description could do due service to the beauty of their connection. As Sansky lay cuddled beside his new love, running his fingers through her hair and staring deep into her eyes, he felt pure love reign free over the ocean.