Lily gained confidence each time she spent time with Thomas McDavid. When she entered her classroom, Michael and a few other students were seated, talking. Copies of Great Expectations and Hamlet topped several desks.
“Good morning, Ms. Rood,” Michael said. Lily anticipated a comment about looking like Miss Havisham, or about how she looked tired, but no comments came.
“We were wondering if you thought Estelle and Pip would get together in the end,” Michael said.
“I’m just glad you apparently finished the story,” Lily said. “What makes you ask that?”
“Dickens ends the novel with Pip and Estelle together, and each has learned to come to terms with his or her childhood. Estelle married a snake, but he eventually died. And Pip never really became interested in any woman besides Estelle. It just seems like Dickens foresaw Pip and Estelle together, given the closing images of their story,” Michael continued.
“I tend to agree. It seems their childhoods–blacksmithing with Joe for Pip, and a psychological slavery under the rule of Miss Havisham for Estelle—forged them, ironically enough, for each other,” Lily said.
“Do you enjoy teaching this story, Ms. Rood?”
“I do, Michael. Literature of this quality has endured because it speaks to us all; it is universal. You are being reared in a time in history when literature, the classics, and wisdom as a whole, are being rejected. Wisdom is being replaced forcibly by categories of race, gender, and class/economics,” Lily said. “This is an age of folly.”
“Not all of us are buying these categories, Ms. Rood. Life seems a lot more complicated than one’s race, gender, or income,” Michael said.
“You’ve no idea how encouraging that is to hear, Michael,” Lily said.
“Excuse me, Ms. Rood. Would you mind—hmmmm?” It was Beth. She stood in the threshold of Lily’s classroom door. She had been listening to the conversation. Lily looked up to see Beth’s ruined burnt-orange hair and hear the metallic clink of gold bracelets on her forearms. Lily’s mind pictured Beth’s black nail polish as ravens’ claws, tearing her career from her.
Lily felt sweat form under her armpits, as she tried to form a smile and walk towards Beth.
“Yes?” Lily asked.
“Would you mind coming to the counselors’ offices again for a few minutes, Ms. Rood?” Beth asked, her monstrous hands garish with rings on each finger.
“I’m sorry, Beth, but class is about to begin. I need to be with my students,” Lily said.
“Ms. Rood, need I remind you of who I am?” Beth asked.
“That will not be necessary,” Lily said. “I have somewhat of an understanding.”
(To be continued)