“Ma’am?” Michael asked. “Ms. Rood, did you hear what I said?”
“Yes, it is. Are you alright, Ms. Rood?”
“Michael,” Lily said again. “I’m sorry. What were you saying?”
“I came to give you a message from Mrs. Wilkins in the front office.”
“What is it, Michael? I apologize. I must’ve fallen asleep or something,” Lily said.
“You were talking, Ms. Rood. You said ‘Christ’ when I entered your class. But no one is here with you. I just came in early to get some assignments. Mrs. Wilkins buzzed me in. You remember, right? I’m going to be out a few days for the fieldtrip with the acting team in Atlanta for theater practice,” Michael explained.
“Of course, Michael. Thank you for that.”
“Are you sure you’re alright, Ms. Rood?
“Mrs. Wilkins and the bookroom lady are in the front office, if you need me to ask them to get something for you,” Michael continued.
“It’s fine now, Michael. I just…”
“It’s okay, Ms. Rood. I won’t say anything about it. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The bookroom lady…”
“Her name is Alice, Michael, not bookroom lady,” Lily said.
Suddenly there was a knock at Lily’s open classroom door. Michael and Lily turned their heads simultaneously.
Desiree Dramal stood in Lily’s doorway, arms crossed, causing her breasts to appear still larger, even for her considerable height. Her legs were so long Lily thought they themselves could be characters in a Kafka story.
“I had heard you came to work early, Ms. Rood—and that you often had people in your classroom at odd hours.”
“Excuse me?” Lily said. “This is Michael. He is one of my seniors. He came for his assignments.”
“Of course, Ms. Rood. Not to worry,” Desiree Dramal said, uncrossing her arms and turning her palms upright to assuage Lily.
“What was it you needed?” Lily asked.
“I can see you have someone with you, Ms. Rood. I will return later. Just some unfinished business.”
“I was not aware we had begun any business,” Lily said.
“Michael, could you give us a moment, please?” Lily asked. Michael retrieved a journal and folder from his desk and disappeared.
“Yes, Ms. Dramal. I do come to work early. I did not realize that was worthy of discussion, but I must be wrong.”
“Not to worry, Ms. Rood. I was just sharing some things I’d heard. It doesn’t bother you, does it?”
“What bothers me is your not telling me what you came for. You did have a reason, I assume?”
“Ah yes. My friend Alice…you know Alice up front, right?…she wanted me to ask you if you’d had a chance to read her book on hearing from God. But that’s not what I came for. I was going to ask you if you would help with the spring play. I hear you’re good with working with students and their elocution,” Desiree Dramal said.
“Aren’t you in counseling, Ms. Dramal? You understand why I ask. What do you have to do with theater and elocution?”
“I like to be involved in a lot of things, Ms. Rood. I see myself as a kind of rudder, if you will, steering things…but behind the scenes,” Desiree Dramal said.
Lily felt bile rise in the back of her throat. Acrid. She was close to vomiting. “I will certainly consider it and let the right people know,” Lily said. “Is that all?”
“For now, Ms. Rood. Thank you. I can see that you enjoy working with students and others at many hours, so the theater would be a good place for your talents,” Desiree Dramal said. She slid saurian-like from Lily’s doorway and was gone.
(To be continued)