Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The Story Goes

“…and miles to go before I sleep…”

-Robert Frost

To Whom It May Concern:

I have over four years experience in the education field and have obtained my bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from Hofstra University as well as my Masters of Science in School Counseling. I have had the opportunity to work with students in kindergarten through the 12th grade. I have been a mentor to students when I was in high school and have also taught Sunday School. All my experiences have taught me the importance of listening and learning, not only for my students, but for me as well. I have obtained various techniques from seasoned school counselors and educators all over New York state, and have incorporated them into a counseling and education style with which I have found great success.
I welcome challenges and obtain my biggest rewards while working with students. Even with sparse resources and pressures from all levels, I have accomplished so much more than I ever thought possible.
My ability to reach out and connect with students, faculty, and even parents has taught me so much more than what I learned throughout the school counseling program.
My experience in counseling has allowed me to recognize the many problems that students are facing in today‘s society and has strengthened my resolve for the need of knowledgeable, competent and caring school counselors.
Darla Finch

That was the cover letter that got me the position I’d been waiting for.  Finally! I was going to be a guidance counselor at a junior high school.
I was sincere in the letter. Never in a million years did I think I would meet a whole different set of challenges. Challenges that I couldn’t have made up in my wildest dreams.
Oh yeah. Speaking about dreams…

Dear Journal:

My name is Darla Finch and I’ve always been a skeptic.
Not about world religions, or the concept of aliens, or spiritualism. Never things of that nature. I was taught better than that.
I’ve always been a skeptic about people.
I’ve only really trusted two people outside my immediate family. My best friend Mariah, and my ex-boyfriend, Jim. Truth be told, I even doubted Mariah’s life credibility most of the time. In any case, all people mentioned always warned me about the real world…
“Be careful when crossing the street!”
“You have to listen to your gut instinct!”
“Make sure you don‘t have a boogie hanging out of your nose!”
And other things of that nature.
I put my pen down as the thoughts swirl around in my head.
When I was still seeing Jim (who is technically the love of my life), we would get into deep and serious conversations about the future. Usually, about our future. But when he learned that I wanted to be a school counselor and enter the Board of Education, he told me, “To all the head honchos, whatever difference you could make will never count. To them, it‘s only about the paycheck.”
I should have listened to Jim, but regardless of my skepticism: I had more faith in people at that time. Now it’s about four years down the road, and the words that he said that day still stick out clearly in my mind. Just as clear as Jim’s face and hands – sigh. Moving on…
Let’s face it: all the good educators that everyone knows about have had problems with the powers that be. Anne of Green Gables (fictional? Who knows, really. Everything is always based on SOMETHING), the woman who Freedom Writers was written about, and Ron Clark. Then, Ron Clark finally went and opened up his own school! Too bad it’s in Virginia, while I’m stuck suffering in New York. I so would have applied to work at his school.
I guess I should start at the beginning, before any drama even manifested.
I had a picture perfect childhood. Our little family crammed into a two story house on a rural suburban block. They used to pool together for block parties, picnics, neighbors dropping by whenever, you name it. One of my childhood friends even had a shortcut from my house to his house through a gap in all the neighbors’ fences. Great hiding places. Sometimes I wish that I can see those kind of carefree days again, and I find myself hoping that at least that my children will experience those kinds of days.
By the time I was in the first grade, I knew that I wanted to work with children. I used to dream that I was teaching students out in this beautiful, open field and I wanted to make the dream a reality.
Actually, I felt oddly sure about this fact. My sister laughed at me. By the time I got to seventh grade, I knew that I needed a job for me to get the things I wanted. That was something that my parents had instilled in me since I was a little girl- to work for what I wanted.
Overall, I had the kind of childhood that you see in movies. Other things you should know is that my family totally denies any connection to the world of magic.
Our ancestors have been fabled not only to have psychic abilities but also to heal people and have empathic abilities, which made a lot of them ill at some point in their lives. Most of the ancestors we know about and present relatives have led their lives as priests, nuns and teachers. Mothers and nurses are the number one career choice for the women in my family. Totally family oriented on all sides of my family, we never discovered the truth about who we were no matter how hard we looked. It was a secret lost in time.
Being a mother is the ultimate job that encompasses all careers. Of course, being a father figure in this whole family is also a pretty important job. Knowing these facts prepared me for the future. Knowing these facts also led to countless fights between my parents and my sisters.
Fast forward to high school, where students and teachers alike thought I was an undercover cop placed in order to nab a drug ring. I would get tapped on the shoulder during class, and be asked, “What‘s your assignment?” and “So, who are you here to arrest?”
No matter how many times I would adamantly state that I was not an officer of the law, they persisted. Before that, when I was in elementary school, I barely spoke. I barely participated just so I wouldn’t speak out loud. Not that I didn’t know how to, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to be left alone to learn and to work.
Oh well. At least they never mistook me for impersonating a teacher.
Somehow, the way I had carried myself throughout life prepared me for how to behave in High School, though I still managed to get myself on my junior year history teachers radar. Come to think of it, her name escapes me now. Would you really blame me? I’m probably traumatized.
Within the first 5 minutes of a class I took in junior year of high school, we were already being assigned seats in alphabetical order. Mind you, I was in a private school so we were all wearing pretty much the same uniform (shudder). The teacher began to do role call, gets to my name and says, “Darla Finch, hmm? You must think you’re something with such a name!”
I looked up to the Heavens and silently thanked Jesus for having such a sense of humor. I knew I was going to have it bad that year. That was just my instinct.
My feelings worsened throughout the year. That woman’s vendetta against  me got increasingly worse until I had to transfer out of the school. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Needless to say, this part of my life wasn’t boring. I learned a lot of valuable lessons:
  1. Transfer out of a class if you think the teacher has it in for you.
  2. Transferring to a new school is not a bad thing.
My experiences senior year of high school really pushed me to want to work with children. I had completed volunteer work at churches and daycare centers and knew it was the right path.
I didn’t understand it either.
My life goal was solidified when I got to the public school system. It had more seasoned teachers there, and I loved how they just taught as though it was their great calling in life. Thanks to my sociology teacher in my senior year at that Public School, I enrolled to a university in the fall for my bachelors in Criminal Justice.
Again, I went about ‘the College Years’ pretty much the same way I went through the rest of my school years. Never spoke in class, sometimes participated, but picking up a few good friends along the way. I was not in a sorority, and I never made any extra commitments.
While fellow classmates were scrambling with their majors, I went about my busy weeks effortlessly. I had a job, a large family to keep me occupied, and I was going steady with Jim.
Life was perfect.
Finally having obtained my bachelors degree, I knew that I still wanted to work with kids but didn‘t know how to go about it.
My mother was the one who actually came up with the idea of me continuing my education but pursuing a career in School Counseling. Maybe it was a guilt trip on her part (she’s Greek so she’s GREAT at the guilt tripping), but I felt a little jolt at her words. Maybe that’s what I’d wanted to do all along. I wasn’t sure about the concept, but I decided to try it anyway.
Panic arose in me like tiny bubbles the day I interviewed to get into the school counseling program at the University. I was so nervous. My interviewer, who was the head of the school counseling program, drilled me until I blurted out that all I had ever wanted to do was to help children succeed with their lives and to help them realize that only they have the power to make themselves happy. She ended the interview by laughing, shaking my hand, and saying that she knew she would hear the name Darla Finch echoed throughout the years.
I’ve wondered what that meant ever since.
I lay back on my pillow and try to put it all together.
All this, and still… I wondered where life was trying to lead me.
“Ugh, here we go again.” An exasperated voice states and wakes me up.
Huh? What?
I look up from my bed…except I’m not in my bed anymore. I’m standing up in my fuzzy PJ‘s, now gaping at the teenage brunette on my right.
I’m dreaming again.
“Not you again…”, I mutter.
“No. Not JUST her. Me, too”, says the blonde to my left, twisting a curl around her finger.
“I have really had just about enough of you interrupting my sleep.”
“Well, deal with it. We’re here for a reason.”
“I see. And…where is here?”

Looking around, there's not much to it. A hum of light music in the air and the gentle whirring of a machine beyond that.
“An elevator.”

Duh. What are we doing in an elevator?, I think to myself as I notice that the elevator buttons that should have floor numbers on them instead have tiny photos that resemble hieroglyphs.
“Listen, great-niece. We have no reason here other then to say what we came to tell you. We have no idea why your subconscious chose the elevator. Will you listen or NOT?”
“What good does it do for me to LISTEN, when I never remember what you’ve come to say after I wake up?”
“We’re here to tell you to open your eyes. Get out of whatever bad situation it is that you’re in. Get out of it as fast as you can. History has begun to repeat itself. On you…”
“We don’t want to see you hurt…”
“If you get hurt, you’ll hold yourself back.”
“Hold myself back from what?”
“The rest of your life. What you’re meant to do.”
“What am I meant to do?”
“We can’t tell you,” stammers my blonde Great-Aunt, turning her startling blue eyes to the floor. The same eyes that I had seen when my Grandfather used to be alive.
“We don’t know!”, shouts the brunette.
“Why are you mad? What did I do? What’s going on…”, I feel a heavy pressure in the middle of my forehead.
My Great-Aunts touch my shoulder simultaneously.
“Wake up!”, they yell.
I do.
And find myself on my bedroom floor.


From the Desk of Darla Finch
Guidance Counselor
Rebuttal: May 4, 2007
To Whom It May Concern:
A new meeting and notice was held with Mr. Tuft on May 3rd, 2007. In the beginning of this meeting with Mr. Tuft, he asked me what are my plans for my future? When I asked Mr. Tuft to clarify once more, he asked me if I was staying in this school. In response to the attached letter written by Mr. Tuft, during our recent conversations, the only thing stated to me is that Mr. Tuft was dissatisfied with one student meeting I’ve had, not that any ‘particular skills are not those from children of this middle school can benefit.’ This statement was not explained to me by Mr. Tuft.
I am a Guidance Counselor, and as such, my job description is to guide the children in the direction most suited to their dispositions. There was never any Staff Development implemented that should have honed my existing skills and developed new ones. However, Assistant Principal Burgess has held meetings with me and the rest of the Guidance Department as to what we are to do in various situations. If this is what Mr. Tuft meant by Staff Development, it was never clarified.
Mr. Tuft stated in this letter attached that, “my level of ongoing teacher development has not proceeded at a rate that meets the needs of our students, or the goals of our school.” Again, I am a Guidance Counselor and not a teacher. This generic letter that Mr. Tuft has handed me has again not reflected what I am doing wrong as a counselor, nor did he suggest any ways I could improve my behavior.
The fact that I am facing a possibility of a U rating for the school year is outrageous since there has not been a legitimate reason. I have considerable counseling skills. I will not be changing schools even though Mr. Tuft is adamant on that topic, with the only he provided is one meeting a student re-registering to the school.
Darla Finch

I know what you’re thinking…
What a wonderful letter to show your future children and family members about the trials and tribulations you went through as a young adult just entering her career!
This alone should give one enough information about my boss, Mr. Tuft, at this moment in time. Rest assured, he doesn’t only have it out for me. He has it out for about half the faculty of the school I‘ve found myself working in.
My luck just keeps improving.

Dear Parents/Guardians:
Our school’s guidance department believes that all students are unique, each with special abilities, talents and needs. Our students should function at their highest level, both academically and personally. Our mission is to create a safe and caring environment that fosters responsible and academically motivated students.
Upon entering New School, every student is assigned a personal guidance counselor. The counselor is the person with whom your child can discuss academic and personal problems.
Your child can make appointments to see his or her guidance counselor before class, upon entering school in the morning, or after the school day is over.. The guidance staff works collaboratively with the administration, faculty, parents and students in many ways through our comprehensive counseling program. Each service is aimed at helping students learn and develop to their highest potential and the hopes of making a smooth transition to high school.
As a guidance counselor, I encourage you to stay involved with your child’s school and its staff. It is advisable that you meet with your child’s counselor on Open School evenings and afternoons. If such a time is not convenient, please schedule an appointment either by phone or e-mail. Lastly, feel free to join the Parent’s Association and attend its monthly meetings. These meeting are informative.
I extend a heartfelt welcome to all parents and guardians.
 Very Truly Yours,
L. Parsons, D. Finch, K. George

“Holy crap! Doug, I’m telling you- if you don’t stop sneaking up on me like that…” I retort, pushing a curly hair out of my eye.
“Relax! Who else is it going to be? We’re the only two down at this side of the building with an office. Why are you so on edge today?” Doug asks, looking at me quizzically with an eyebrow raised.

Doug is almost 6 feet tall with sandy blonde hair, kind blue eyes and a careful grin. We have been working together for some time at this point, and working together in a chaotic environment will bring some people closer together. I feel that connection over crazy with Doug.
“Oh, same old. Didn’t sleep well, found my old observation…”
“Ah. ’Nuff said. I thought you were on edge because of a certain someone who always wanders down this way at this time of the day”, a sneaky smile appears on Doug's face, suggesting something secretive.
“Douglas. Sweet Doug. There is nothing going on between me and Michael. You know that, you have the connecting office! If there was anything, I would assume you’d be the first to know it. You are his best friend.”
“There’s a lot that he doesn’t tell me. So far as I’ve heard, you are both just pining for each other. So my question is, why not just do something about it?”
“You know, Doug? I have never in my life known a man to be such a busy-body. Besides, it would be ridiculous to get caught up in a relationship in the work place. It’s crazy enough as it is in this building. I can’t add to it,” I raise my eyebrow as I wait for Doug's response. How did the books on my shelves fall over?
“Secrets, secrets. Later, Finch!” He turns on is heel and quickly makes way down the staircase, leaving me alone rearranging the wilted novels.
“Wait. What do you mean, secrets?” I turn to follow him with one novel in my hand and stop myself.
I hear Doug speaking with Michael outside the staircase door. I turn on my heel and walk away.

September is a happy time for both students and teachers, I like to believe. Sure, the summer is over, and it’s back to the routine, and kids would rather be home. The teachers, administrators, and support team, however? That’s a different story. They are the ones who are looking forward to cooler weather, new adventures…new school supplies! Pens, pencils, bulletin board borders. You name it. There is heavy-duty school shopping going on from about August until November.
It always overjoyed me walking into a store as a student to buy a new pack of pens, but now? As a counselor? I can buy the pens and then some, paid for since I’m in the city’s system, and hang on to them to distribute to the students if need be!
It’s kind of like… a studious Christmas. I don’t even need to put a bow around a bunch of freshly sharpened pencils. Just the smell of freshly sharpened pencils bring back ghosts of school years past. These would so be my Christmas Gifts of choice.
The not-so-great parts about the first few days back at work are the meetings. No one wants to sit at work for over 3 hours at a time listening to one man (the principal) going on and on about procedures, and himself.

Honestly, who wants to hear the ranting of a lunatic? No one wants to hear him make a commotion of how it’s his school while he’s banging on the desk to make a point? We’re all professionals, we’ve been to school. Wouldn’t a half an hour of that 3 hour meeting suffice? To me, that would be the only logical thing, since you have to prepare with the teachers in your cluster, prepare your classroom, brainstorm lesson plans, and all the rest of it.
The remainder of the week goes by uneventfully. I move along as if in a daze. I can’t believe I actually get through any part of the first week of such long and grueling meetings.
Driving home from these meetings always get me to thinking about the way my life was going. Was I truly happy this way, or could I be happier? I started this job at a junior high school (not 15 minutes away from my apartment, might I add) about 10 months ago, and wouldn’t you know it? Problems!
I don’t want to cause rumors, or like it when people spread rumors. I don’t want to cause people angst. I really try to stay clear of drama, and distance myself from people who create it. I’m too tired to do that, especially when I work out.
The truth is that lately, I am feeling out of place. Not in the concept that was guidance counseling but in the concept of myself. Part of me is panicked because I feel as if I should have accomplished more at my ripe age of 28. By now, I thought that I’d have written that book and traveled some of the world with my husband who was to be the man of my dreams!
I always imagined that man to be Jim. Since the change of events, I haven’t even tried to replace him in my fantasies. As much as I think of Michael, it’s just not in the same way. I don’t see Michael as the man I would be with for the rest of my life, but there is this draw that pulls me to him that I cannot explain.
Yet, I can explain everything there is to explain about Jim. The way he talks, his dreams and his life goals mirror my own. Deep down, I know that I’ll never find someone who would compliment me so well.
It hurts.
Through the years, these thoughts would sneak up on me. I figure that I have a great family, great friends, and a great career, so everything else is probably not in the cards for me. Yet. But sometimes impatience gets the better of me.
It was on one such impatient morning later that year, when I decided to act more like myself. So, it was the first time that I wore jeans to work, ever. Just to be clear, you’re allowed to wear jeans to work when you’re a teacher. I’ve worked in schools where teachers wear sweats. Not that I would wear sweatpants to work, but it’s not written anywhere that you can’t. I’ve visited a lot of schools, and I’ve seen most teachers wearing jeans. I run down to the main office from my office and come face to face with Principal Tuft, who quickly turns around and says, “How do you feel that your students look more professional today than you do?”
Say what??
I re-examined my outfit choice.
I’m wearing a dark wash pair of Seven jeans and a blue button down shirt, for crying out loud! There are no stains or holes anywhere, and I’m wearing heels!   HEELS! Do you know what it’s like to travel around a school building that has no elevator with heels on? My office is on the fourth floor, for crying out loud!
COULD YOU DO THAT, Principal Tuft? Could you teeter around on 4-inch heels walking through marble staircases with mountains of stuff in your arms? You can’t be serious!
I can’t believe that now not only do I have to create an assembly about bullying, I probably have to teach Tuft a thing or two about it.
As I get back to my office (yes, teetering up the stairs in those 4-inch heels), I document this comment which came out of left field from Principal Tuft. I even double checked to make sure there is nowhere in the school counselors contract that says one is not allowed to wear jeans. I was right. School Counselors are not really that much different than teachers. We just teach students different things.
Why did I document this interesting blip of a statement? To tell you the truth, it’s because I was told to. I remember when I started working at this school, that someone had told me if I started hearing or seeing anything weird throughout my career, just keep documenting it! “Make sure you try to keep all this information safe and in one place so you can keep adding to it.” For the life of me, I can’t remember who it was. Might be getting old timers too early, but it’s a piece of advice I took to heart.
The rest of that day had pretty much gone by in a blur, with thankfully just the students to keep me busy. The students, as usual, were a godsend! No meetings, no conferences, nothing. Just my sessions with the kids, which were really the highlights of my day.
After such an interesting dream and first few days back, it was Friday and I just had to go vent to my best friend after work.
I met up with Mariah at one of our favorite cafes, Le Brick Café.  
Le Brick was a quaint little coffee shop located in one of the trendier neighborhoods of Queens, New York. There were comfy couches in various jewel colors, little tables, great food…but the best part was in the summertime, when it opened it’s doors and set tables outside. It looked like a café that should have been placed in Europe with its wrought iron chairs and decorative wall hangings on a full brick wall, which created such a relaxing ambiance. That was exactly what I liked; the European feel of it. Mariah had actually had a business meeting here once, then dragged me here the next night, and it has been our hangout ever since. Not that we didn’t enjoy going to other places, but here it just suited our style. At least, we liked to think so.
I was lost in thought when who comes strolling in? Janet Wyckoff. Another sign that I should have stayed in bed, I quietly sighed to myself while looking up to the heavens.
“What’s wrong?, asked Mariah, whose hair was looking especially glam after her visit to the salon. It hung in long black waves over her back, with side-swept bangs gently shading her eyes.  
Some girls just have good hair genes.
I was of the other population where I would rather shave off all my hair than deal with it. Sometimes.
I looked up at Mariah through my mess of dark curls while trying to shield my eyes from Janet. I leaned back into the sofa.
“Janet Wyckoff just walked in sporting new arm candy. Take a good look, we’ll be hearing all about him and his dark and sordid past in a few months. Poor thing. Doesn’t even know what he’s getting himself into.”
“I say we toast to the fact that we’ve been through it and don’t have to deal with her anymore!”, Mariah lifted her Martini glass to her MAC clear-glossed lips.
I pushed my bangs out of my face and took a sip of my hot chocolate, knowing full-well that in order to keep my now-trim-thanks-to-the-gym figure I should cut back on the chocolate. Caffeine. It was one of my life‘s weaknesses.
Janet Wyckoff had recently joined the staff at Mariah’s law firm last year. Though she was a complete newbie in every aspect, she thought she could act as though she were Queen of the World. With her too-tight suits and snappy comebacks, she seemed to learn how to manipulate other people into taking care of her responsibilities, leaving her to free up time in her schedule enough to schmooze up to Mariah.
Mariah and Janet quickly became friends, and started spending every minute together. Janet had quickly gotten Mariah to open up to her and, with her manipulative skills, started going out with Mariah and all of her friends, including me.
“I can’t believe we went practically everywhere with her. And how did she wind up showing up to all those places? Not even Isabel knows how she got to the fashion show she was hosting. There was not a cab available in the city that day.”
I’m shushed as Mariah picks up her phone. Quickly getting lost in my thoughts, I let my eyes drift around the room, taking everything in. There’s a little 3 year old girl sitting with her parents at the neighboring table. From the looks of it, she’s taken a liking to me and waves. I wave back.
At first I had been interested as Janet spoke about her life and her travels, but there was always something that bothered me about her. I thought maybe I was losing my mind, but every time we were out, and Mariah, or anyone else for that matter, eyed someone, Janet would immediately seize the opportunity to jump up and go make conversation with that person. Eventually, it would turn into something more, until she would move on to the next victim.
There was a time when Mariah and I had decided to take a road trip up to Connecticut, to visit the casinos. Mariah offered to drive, so I made plans for MooShoo, my puppy, to be taken care of for the night.
In the car on the way to a diner that morning, Mariah had told me that Janet would be joining us. I really wasn’t in a place to voice my opinion, so as I ordered my chocolate chip pancakes I kept my mouth shut. Soon enough, Janet showed up. She wasn’t alone; she had decided to bring a friend of hers, too. When I looked over at Mariah, she just shrugged her shoulders, as if this was something she was used to from Janet.
Janet also seemed like she was all up in Mariah’s face, constantly asking her for a ride, for some days off here and there, and even communicating with Mariah’s friends behind her back. The only reason things blew up between Mariah and Janet, is because someone told Mariah that Janet had been frequenting one of the local hangouts with her ex-boyfriend. Thus, Mariah kept her cool until one thing went wrong at work, and Janet was history.
Until now.
While Mariah is ending her phone call, I begin thinking to myself: how is it that my luck just seems to be getting worse? I smile as Mariah apologizes for the last phone call and hear a shrilling beeping noise.
She looks at me with an apology in her eyes and answers it.
“Hello. Yes. Yes. What? What are you talking about? Those statements had to be faxed yesterday. YESTERDAY. Are you kidding me? Well, what did I hire you for? Excuse me? Excuuuseeee… That bastard. He hung up on me!” Mariah’s pretty face was scrunched up in fury.
“What is…”, I started.
“That incompetent bastard! I knew he couldn’t stand it when women were in power in the workplace. Who does he think he is? Me? He’ll never work for another firm again! And to think he was going to join us in South Korea. What a big mistake I made!
“Let me get the check, Dar. I have to go and hound human resources into getting someone who can work for me who has a brain. Call me later? Oh, and say hi to Mooshoo!”
With that, Mariah threw down some bills on the table and hurried out the door. I too, stood up while wrapping my hot pink scarf around my neck. Rapidly walking past Janet, who I prayed was too busy entertaining her new man-friend to spot me. I hurried my steps.
With those thoughts, I made my way out of Le Brick. I thanked the heavens that she didn’t see me because I was not in the mood. I also thanked the Lord that He, once again, showed us who our true friends were.
Speaking of…crap.
I never got the chance to tell Mariah my dream. I would have to try her again later on via phone call, I thought as I pushed the door open and stepped out into the night.
All thoughts were quickly swept away by the weather outside. It was so cold for this time of the year, damnit. The weather was always another reason why I wished I was anywhere else.
Somewhere warm, with a drink in my hand, hanging out on the beach. Should it be that wishful thinking is what gets one through the day?
I flip my hair over my shoulder and turn the corner to where my car is parked. I stick my gloved hand in my pocket.
I open my bag, close to freezing, and swish it around looking for my keys.
Why can’t I ever find my keys when I need them? Then there’s the times when I don’t need them and they’re the first thing I grab…maybe I should just be thankful that I’ve never lost them. Especially in weather like…
And that’s when I ran smack into someone.
And my stomach fell to my feet.
“I’m sorry. Forgive me?”
I look up in surprise and blink. I could swear the person standing in front of me is wearing a white…toga? Standing in front of hot, endless land? He’s holding out his hand to me. I reach out to take his hand.
I blink again.
Cement under my feet. Whew.
Trying to get myself together, I find myself looking into the eyes of Michael Cartise. I take back my hand.
“ Oh, Michael. How are you? Sorry about…”
“About the elbow you gave me? No problem. How are you doing? I didn’t get to see you at work today. Were you even in?”
“Uh. Yeah. I was in today. I just-I guess- It’s been a long day. You know, one thing after the other and before you know it, the day is finally over. How is everything with you? Since when do you venture to this neck of the woods?”
“I was meeting a couple of friends for dinner,” He smiled while pushing his hair back.
Where in the bloody hell are my keys?!
“The new students in your history class must be- interesting”, I mutter, though it comes out more like a grumble.
“You know it. Thanks for fighting for me to keep my classes. It means a lot to me that-”
“HA! GOTCHA!,” I pulled my keys out of their hiding place.
“Haven’t I told you to get a long key chain for your keys? You’re always losing things, especially those!”
“I haven’t gotten around to it yet,” I said, smiling up at him.
“Seriously, and stop stealing mine when I’m teaching.”
“You know I do that because it keeps the students on their toes!”, I lied.
Of course I lied. I did it just to freak him out. It serves him right to have them on a string dangling out of his pocket.
“Right. Later, Finch.” Shaking his head, he walks away.
“See ya, Mike.”
As we part ways on the corner, I thought about how badly Michael took it when his favorite class was disbanded and spread throughout the entire building.
The new class that he had been given was somewhat of a challenge since the
students all had behavioral issues.
Since picking up this class about a month ago, Michael had been taking special care to get his students up to speed by providing worksheets, homework help website information, and parent conferences during his personal time.
At times, Michael reminded me of myself but then I remembered about how he talked about having some sort of interesting life story at one of the school’s socials. I don’t have an interesting life story, which is partly why I went into guidance counseling. I knew it would bring me closer to people who had real lives and were interesting.
Michael had talked about all the traveling he and his family did when he was younger, how he and his brothers were always fighting with each other, and the interesting events that occurred to him throughout high school. The memories he spoke of that stuck out in my mind is when he and his family had stood amidst 30,000 penguins in Chile, and swimming with dolphins in the British Virgin Islands, and visiting the pyramids in Egypt…
Maybe that’s why I had that flash?
I had barely ever traveled as a child and that was all I had ever dreamed of doing as far back as I could remember. I’ve always researched about the places I’ve wanted to go see and the things that I want to go do. So, I was fascinated that Michael lived through some of that.
Honestly speaking, I sometimes think about doing those same things with Michael. I always try my best to stay away from him as much as I can help it. Every time that I see him, I get drowned by the pools of deep brown of his eyes. They always seem to see right through me. He has dimples, and a full mouth that, during daydreams, I imagine what it would be like to kiss…
“Hmm? Oh! What?”, I blushed. Apparently, Michael had turned back around and had been walking behind me while I was lost in my daze.
“I was just asking you if you were going to be attending the social on Friday after school, but then you started blushing and now we’re here.” Michael smiled and those dimples winked at me.
“Most likely, I’ll try to be there. Will you be going?”
“Only if you do. Take care, Darla.”, Michael said and hurried off, leaving me alone once again. Leaving me confused on that street corner.
Confused- the way he always made me feel.
For crying out loud, I thought to myself. I hate it when he does that. He acts so arrogant and always says things like that and continues to throw at me the fact that he’s out and about and happy and seeing people. What’s wrong with him?
What’s wrong with me?
Easy, I thought to myself. I act like that all the time with my friends. I say the same things. Maybe he values my friendship.  
I try not to work myself up anymore, which is a bad habit of mine that I’ve been working on. Though, I think this is the most working up I’ve done in one day since the last time that Michael side swiped me with kind and almost human remarks.
The problem is, I don’t think of him as just a friend. I want more. It’s been a long time since I’ve had more.  
Ever since the first day he started at work, when he rolled up his sleeves in front of me because it was still summer weather and hot as all hell. He looked up at me and smiled. Then that was it. I was gone. Me. An educated woman.
Me- someone who tries their best never to be flustered.
God. This is probably another reason I became a guidance counselor, I thought.
So I could get some help myself while I’m at it.

No comments:

Post a Comment