Monday morning’s first light found Lily in her classroom at Covenant. She sat behind her metal desk in a cheap metal swivel chair. The desk was covered with worn paperbacks of Hamlet, Great Expectations, books of poetry, index cards on which she kept notes, Post-its of various colors she had stuck inside books with cross-references, and papers to be graded. Pens and pencils of various colors were in a heavy ceramic coffee cup Mr. Fred Aims bought her as a welcome. On the cup in white letters was stenciled a biblical reference: 2 Cor. 3:6.
Her classroom had one window through which she could see a live oak tree and some of Covenant’s grounds. No other teachers had arrived yet but she had learned that Thomas McDavid arrived early, too. Lily stared at the oak outside. She checked her calendar for the date: March 1. Spring is nearing, she thought, with its attendant rains, richness of upturned soil, life pushing upward.
“Holloa, my young friend! Up early again?”
Lily heard Mr. McDavid’s merry voice and caught the smell of black coffee.
“Good morning, Thomas,” Lily said, smiling. “Yes. How are you?”
“All’s well. We’re looking into some of Caesar’s weaknesses in my classes today.”
“Some other lads, too. Mark Antony and Brutus. Ever heard of’em?” Thomas said, grinning.
“I think I have.”
“Beware those lads from March, right?”
“Something like that, Thomas,” Lily said, laughing.
“Just wanted to check on you, young lady. I’m off to hang out with Julius Caesar and other men closer to my age.”
He sipped from his coffee cup.
“You still on the Mississippi with Pip and Miss Havisham?”
“Well, how about in 19th century England with Pip and Miss Havisham and Denmark with Hamlet?” Lily asked.
“Yes, of course, just like I said.”
“Right, Thomas. Have a good morning, okay?”
Mr. McDavid stepped backwards and looked back up the hallway, then stepped forward again into Lily’s room.
“Ready to tame Covenant’s shrew?” Thomas asked.
“You will see soon.”
Thomas McDavid departed, leaving only the smell of his black coffee. Suddenly Lily heard the sound of Beth’s heels and the metallic clinking of bracelets.
(To be continued)